Photograph of airmail pilot Lloyd Bertaud and unidentified individual
After his years in the airmail service, Lloyd Bertaud continued to try and make aviation history. He and an old airmail buddy, James DeWitt Hill, were swept up in the excitement of record making flights in these early aviation years. They decided to try for a distance record-making trip Rome. The pair were sponsored by newspaper giant William Randolph Hearst and accompanied on their flight by Philip Payne, a Hearst employee. The pair took off in a Fokker F.VIIA monoplane they named Old Glory from an airfield in Maine on September 6, 1927.
At about 4 am the next morning Bertaud radioed a pair of distress calls. The nearest ship reached an assumed crash area later that morning, but was unable to find any sign of the plane or crew. Hearst sent a chartered ship, the SS Kyle, to the search area. Five days after Bertaud's distress calls the Kyle's crew discovered Old Glory's wreckage. There was no sign of the crew.
National Postal Museum, Curatorial Photographic Collection