Paul Redfern

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Paul Redfern (13 February 1902 – 25 August 1927[1] (approximate)) was an American musician and a pilot from Columbia, South Carolina. He became known during the summer of 1927 for attempting to fly from Brunswick, Georgia to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a distance of more than 4600 miles and at that time longer than anyone else had ever flown in one flight.


Paul Rinaldo Redfern was born in 1902 to Dr. Frederick S. Redfern.[2] He had as uncles, Richard S. Redfern and Edwin C. Redfern.[3] He married Gertrude Hildebrand in Toledo, Ohio in 1925.[4]

Flight and disappearance[edit]

Redfern went missing in 1927 when he attempted to fly from Brunswick, Georgia to Brazil. He was spotted by the Norwegian freighter Christian Krogh a few hours later, after dropping a message asking for the ship to be turned in the direction of the nearest land, and when nearing Venezuela he was spotted by a fisherman just off the coast. He failed to arrive in Rio de Janeiro, and over the years more than a dozen search parties were organized. Missionaries and people visiting tribes living in the jungle reported on a white man living among the Indians, but he was never found and no credible evidence documenting that he somehow survived the flight exists.[5][6]

In September 1927, George Henry Hamilton Tate, sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, went to look for Redfern.[7] Some believed him to still be alive as late as 1932.[8]

In 1936, Art Williams claimed he found traces of the Redfern crash in British Guyana.[9]

In 1937, the 13th expedition was organized to find out his fate.[10] Now missing for ten years, he could be legally declared dead.[11]

In February 1938, Frederick John Fox died while trying to find Redfern.[12] In April 1938 Theodore J. Waldeck believed he found the wreckage of Redfern's plane.[13]

His father died in 1941, still hoping that his son would be found alive.[2]

His widow, Gertrude Hillabrand, died in 1981 and was buried in Detroit, Michigan.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Redfern, Frederick C. (1929). "Life Story of Paul Redfern, Aviator". Rochester Alumni Review. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Redfern, Father Of Lost Aviator. Professor Clung to Hope That Son, Paul, Who Disappeared in 1927 Flight, Was Alive". New York Times. November 8, 1941. Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  3. ^ "Rochester Suicide Believed R.S. Redfern. Uncle of Aviator Lost on Brazil Flight Had Aided Search in South America". New York Times. April 26, 1933. Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  4. ^ a b "Paul Rinaldo Redfern. The First Aviator to Solo the Caribbean Sea". Palmetto Sport Aviation. Retrieved 2013-12-30. 
  5. ^ Piercy, Alan (21 October 2013). "Lost legend – Paul Redfern and the birth of aviation in Columbia, S.C." Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  6. ^ Bryson, Bill (2013). One Summer in America – 1927. Black Swan. pp. 419–420. ISBN 978-0-552-77256-3. 
  7. ^ "Explorer In Brazil To Seek Paul Redfern. Backer of Expedition Cables Tate to Use Native Runners in Hunt for Georgian Flier". New York Times. September 11, 1927. Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  8. ^ "Says Flier Is Safe If With Parintins. Explorer Believes Paul Redfern Is Enjoying Life in the Brazilian Jungle". New York Times. December 28, 1932. Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  9. ^ "Williams Found Redfern Traces. Signs of Missing American in Guiana Jungles Were Recent, the Flier Declares". New York Times. January 22, 1936. Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  10. ^ "Begin New Redfern Hunt. Explorers Start 13th Expedition in 10-Year Quest for Flier". New York Times. December 14, 1937. Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  11. ^ "To Ask Redfern Be Ruled Dead". New York Times. September 30, 1937. Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  12. ^ "New Yorker Dies in British Guiana Jungle While on Expedition to Find Paul Redfern". New York Times. February 18, 1938. Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  13. ^ "Death Of Redfern Now Held Proved. Waldeck, on Return From the Jungle, Says He Has Found Scene of Fatal Crash. Riddle Believed Solved. 'The Suspense Is Ended', Flier's Father's Comment on Expedition's Report. Flier's Father Gets Report. Plane Crash Established". New York Times. April 29, 1938. Retrieved 2013-12-29.