1927 air race passes over Jamestown

JSSP Keith Norman Column Sig
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Residents of Jamestown would have had their eyes on the skies in late September of 1927.

Jamestown was along the route of a transcontinental air race with the starting line at Roosevelt Field in New York and the finish at Spokane, Washington.

Grant funds up to $75,000 are available through the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District.

This race was in the fall after Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic and interest in anything aviation was high.

Fargo and Bismarck were refueling and checkpoints in this race so the aircraft would likely pass near Jamestown on the race path.

Race participants competed in three classes. There were seven contestants in the Class A segment flying faster and more powerful planes.


Newspaper reports indicated 15 planes were entered in the Class B category with slower and less powerful aircraft. There were a couple of late additions with 24 total competitors.

The race offered a nonstop class although it appears no one entered that class.

North Dakota air race fans would have been particularly interested in the Class B race. Verne Roberts of Fargo was the only North Dakota pilot on the race roster. Roberts was flying a “monocoupe” aircraft.

Monocoupe Aircraft built single-engine aircraft with an enclosed two-seat cabin. The planes were simple and lower cost than most aircraft of the era.

Maybe the Momocoupe was built too low on the quality and budget scale.

Roberts made it about halfway through the race without problems and was preparing to land in Fargo, his home airport when the propeller fell off. Roberts managed to land the aircraft without incurring injuries but was unable to continue the race.

Two pilots died during the race and six others, including Roberts, failed to finish the race.

Charles “Speed” Holman won the race with a total flight time of 19 hours and 42 minutes. He took home a $10,000 prize.


Adjusted for inflation, that amounts to about $162,000.

Holman was an early pilot for Northwest Airways. In 1928, he set a world record of 1,433 consecutive loops in five hours at St. Paul, Minnesota.
No word if he flew a loop when he passed over Jamestown in 1927.

Author Keith Norman can be reached at

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