Steponas Darius

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Steponas Darius
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Steponas Darius
Full name Steponas Darašius
Born (1897-01-09)January 9, 1897
Rubiškė, Lithuania (then Kovno Governorate, Russian Empire)
Died July 17, 1933(1933-07-17) (aged 36)
Pszczelnik, Poland (then Kuhdamm, Nazi Germany)
Cause of death Aviation crash
Nationality  Lithuania
Spouse Jaunutė Škėmaitė-Darienė
Aviation career
Known for The second-longest non-stop flight by distance, and the fourth-longest by duration, at the time; also the first official airmail shipment from the USA to Europe.
Famous flights Lithuanica flight
Flight license 1927
Air force Lithuanian Air Force
Rank Captain

Steponas Darius (known as Stephen Darius in the USA; born Steponas Darašius; January 8, 1896 in Rubliiškė, now Klaipėda district of Lithuania – July 17, 1933 near Soldin, Germany) was a Lithuanian American pilot.

Born in Rubiškė, in the Kovno Governorate of the Russian Empire,Darius emigrated to the USA with his family in 1907. In 1917 he joined the United States Army, after the United States entered World War I, and changed his name to Darius. He served as a telephone operator in the 149th Field Artillery Regiment, fought in France, was wounded and received the Purple Heart medal. In 1920 he returned to Lithuania and joined the Lithuanian Army, graduating from military school in 1921. He helped to organize the Klaipėda Revolt of 1923. While living in Lithuania he completed pilot training. In 1927 he returned to the USA and started working in civil aviation. He initially formed South Bend Airways in partnership with Carl G. Jordan of South Bend, Indiana. Their fleet consisted of a Pheasant H-10 and a Longwing Eaglerock, both powered by OX-5 engines of World War I vintage. He lived for a while in the Jordan household prior to moving to Chicago.

While living in Lithuania he actively promoted various sports. He initiated building of first stadium in Kaunas; it was later was named after him - the S. Darius and S. Girėnas Stadium. He played basketball, baseball, ice hockey, and practiced boxing and athletics, while also being an international footballer, having played for Lithuania national football team in its first competitive game against Estonia on June 23, 1923. Since he was the first to publish booklets about basketball and baseball, he is considered to have brought those sports to Lithuania. He was also the first chairman of Lithuanian Physical Education Union, and a founder of Sporto Žurnalas (Sports magazine).

On July 15, 1933, along with Stasys Girėnas, he attempted a nonstop flight from New York City, USA to Kaunas, Lithuania - a total of 7,186 km, in a Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker airplane named Lituanica. After successfully crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 37 hours and 11 minutes, they crashed on July 17, at 0:36 AM (Berlin Time), by the village of Kuhdamm, near Soldin, Germany (now Pszczelnik, near the Myślibórz area, Poland), most probably because of difficult weather conditions combined with engine problems. Both aviators were killed in the crash. They had covered a distance of 3,984 miles (6,411 kilometers) without landing, and were only 650 km short of their final destination.

A monument to Darius and Girenas is located in the northeast corner of Marquette Park in Chicago.

See also[edit]

  • Lituanica (for complete information on the famous feat)

External links[edit]

Darius (left) and Girėnas on a Lithuanian 10 litas banknote