Russell Boardman

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Russell Boardman (1898–July 1, 1933) was an early American aviation pioneer who, along with John Polando, flew from Floyd Bennett Field to Istanbul, Turkey in 1931 to set an aviation record for the longest continuous distance flown without refueling. Before this achievement, he was also a stunt pilot for the film Hell's Angels.


Early life[edit]

Born in 1898 on a farm in Connecticut, Boardman flew as a stunt pilot for the Howard Hughes film Hell's Angels. He met John Polando at a "Wall of Death" motorcycle event in Revere where Boardman was a rider. Polando decided that Boardman would make a good co-pilot due to his aviation maintenance skills, and the two teamed up and began to pursue a dream of breaking a world record.[1]

Record attempt[edit]

The two men trained at Hyannis Airport in preparation for their trip to Istanbul.[2]

The attempt at the record took place between July 28 and 30, 1931. Boardman and John Polando took off from Floyd Bennett Field in the aircraft Cape Cod. Eighteen minutes later, Clyde Edward Pangborn and Hugh Herndon, Jr. took off from Floyd Bennett in an unsuccessful attempt to circumnavigate the world.[3][4] Boardman and Polando then flew over Newfoundland and dropped the New York Times at lighthouses in the province. Along the way, they also flew over Ireland, Paris, and Munich. They also circled the Swiss Alps at night to avoid crashing into them. While it was originally planned for them to fly to Moscow, it was determined that Istanbul would be easier, because it would allow for them to still break the record.[1]

The distance of 5,011.8 miles (8,065.7 km), over a total of forty nine hours and twenty minutes helped to establish a distance record, which was the first known non-stop flight whose distance surpassed either English (5,000 mi) or metric (8,000 km) mark.[2][5][6][7][self-published source]

Following the landing of their aircraft in Istanbul, they were greeted with great fanfare.[1]

Death and legacy[edit]

Boardman died on July 1, 1933, as a result of injuries sustained when his Gee Bee Model R crashed upon take-off following a fuel stop at Indianapolis. At the time of the crash, he was competing for the Bendix Trophy.[8]

In 1981, the airfield at Barnstable Municipal Airport was renamed Boardman/Polando Field to recognize their accomplishment.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Roscoe, Lee (5 August 2011). "When 'Cape Cod' flew to Istanbul". The Barnstable Patriot. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Kline, Stuard (17 May 2001). "John Polando". Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  3. ^ "Moscow and Istanbul Are Flight Goals". The Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. 28 July 1931. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  4. ^ "'Herndon v. Liberty". Time. 22 May 1933. Retrieved April 28, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "'Cape Cod's' Success Climaxes 5 Years [of] Bellanca Records". The Sunday Morning Star, Wilmington, DE. August 2, 1931. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  6. ^ Polando, Johnnie (2000). Wings Over Istanbul: The Life and Flights of a Pioneer Aviator. Portsmouth, NH: P.E. Randall Publisher. ISBN 0914339842.
  7. ^ Frattasio, Marc (2013). NAS Squantum: The First Naval Air Reserve Base. ISBN 9781304662491. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  8. ^ Hollway, Don. "Doolittle Tames the Gee Bee: The Story of the 1932 National Air Races". Retrieved 21 April 2016.