U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office Chart depicting Ruth Elder’s disappearance over the Atlantic, Oct.1927

Aviator Ruth Elder and her co-pilot/instructor George Haldeman disappeared over the Atlantic creating a desperate scramble to determine their whereabouts. Through the 1920s and 1930s, the staff at the U.S. Navy’s Hydrographic Office in Washington, D.C. supported a number of long-distance over-water flight attempts through the preparation of detailed weather forecasting charts. These skills were tested on October 13, 1927 when Elder and Haldeman were reported long overdue in Paris after their non-stop attempt from Long Island in their Stinson SM-1 Detroiter "The American Girl." The meteorologist(s) who prepared the chart attempted to determine a likely course that Elder would have followed if she had not corrected for drift, which would have been nearly impossible to do without good weather data and the drift measuring equipment then available. Elder and Haldeman survived the flight unscathed after being rescued by a passing tanker shortly after experiencing an oil leak.

Caption:
Aviator Ruth Elder and her co-pilot/instructor George Haldeman disappeared over the Atlantic creating a desperate scramble to determine their whereabouts.
Type: Map
Credit: National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
NASM-9A08381
Navigators & Inventors
Navigation Methods
 
Aviator Ruth Elder and her co-pilot/instructor George Haldeman disappeared over the Atlantic creating a desperate scramble to determine their whereabouts.
The Azores have long been a popular way station for transatlantic flights.
Matthew Fontaine Maury is the father of modern hydrography in the United States Navy.
Elder’s intended course and where she actual ended up were considerably different.
U.S. Navy hydrographers computed an alternate course for Elder and Haldeman after they disappeared.