Podcast | How Seattle launched the first ’round-the-world flight

In 1924, four airplanes took off from what’s now Magnuson Park. Six months and more than 26,000 miles later, half the fleet made it back.

group photo of the first men to fly around the world

A group photo of the first men to fly around the world. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army)

The 1920s marked an era of aviation. After World War I, many powerful nations focused on the new technology and rushed to be the first to use it to circumnavigate the globe.

In 1924, the U.S. military selected eight Army pilots and four specially made biplanes with open-air cockpits to make that first attempt. The pilots were called “the Magellans of the Sky” after the celebrated 16th-century explorer who tried the same feat on the sea. Their official launch site? The shores of Sand Point, or what’s now Magnuson Park in Seattle. 

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Crosscut’s resident historian Knute Berger shone a light on these lesser-known Magellans in a recent episode of the Mossback’s Northwest video series, but there’s more left to highlight. 

In this episode of Mossback, Berger joins co-host Stephen Hegg to dig deeper into the reasons behind the attempt, the physical dangers and geopolitical challenges the pilots faced, the flight’s global significance and its relationship to Boeing. They also discuss the Centennial Celebration that will mark the anniversary of the flight in 2024, exactly where the planes launched and landed a century ago. 

Before listening, we suggest you watch the Mossback's Northwest episode about the Magellans of the Sky here.

About the Hosts

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.

Stephen Hegg

Stephen Hegg

Stephen is formerly a senior video producer at Crosscut and KCTS 9. He specialized in arts and culture.