Paul Redfern (Page Two)

Redfern used a Stinson Detroiter SM-1, a high-wing monoplane with a Wright  J-5 “Whirlwind” engine, the same type of motor used on “Lucky Lindy's” Spirit of St. Louis.  According to the publication Aircraft Circulars, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, prepared by the Stinson Aircraft Corporation, and published in Washington in 1927,  “The Stinson Model SM-1 was the first monoplane of the illustrious ‘Detroiter’ series and successor to the popular SB-1 cabin biplanes (Ed. Note: It was also the first aircraft to be fitted with a Diesel engine. See here and here). The first SM-1 ever built won the 1927 Ford Air Tour, flown by Eddie Stinson himself. Thirty-six planes were reported built in 1927, and many were used in attempts to set world records. Although comparatively large, the SM-1 performed and handled well and could be landed in the traditional cow pasture. The factory price was $12,000 to $12,500 and included such standard equipment as inertia-type engine starter, metal propeller, wheel brakes and wings wired for navigational lights. Pontoons were also available.”

Redfern went to the Stinson Aircraft Factory in Detroit to supervise the installation of additional fuel tanks and other modifications in the Stinson Detroiter. "With Eddie Stinson in the second seat, Paul took off in the modified Stinson at 9:40 a.m. on August 5 and reached Brunswick, Georgia, at 7:40 p.m. He averaged 86 miles an hour on this non-stop flight,” according to Redfern's father.  John Underwood states in his book, The Stinsons -- A Pictorial History, that Eddie Stinson tried to persuade Redfern that two days of flying "was more than a man could stand." He was unable, however, to convince Redfern to take another pilot with him.


Redfern (right) and a colleague beside the Stinson SM-1 (Russell Maxey Collection)

Redfern had the Detroiter painted green and yellow with white lettering. The authors note that green and yellow are the colors of the Brazilian flag. On both sides of the fuselage just behind the engine were the words: “Port of Brunswick.”  In bold letters behind the wing's trailing edge was “Brunswick to Brazil.”  In large letters on the upper and lower wing was the registration number issued by the U. S. Department of Commerce, NX773.

Among those monitoring the flight nothing was heard from anyone by the time Redfern’s fuel would have been exhausted by 4:30 p.m. on August 27. By that time the festive atmosphere in Rio de Janeiro, where the president of Brazil and the movie star Clara Bow planned to greet him, had ended with the knowledge that he and his plane were down, but where and when nobody knew.  There was no news until September 8. It is not hard to imagine the agony experienced by his wife, parents, three sisters, his flight committee and many friends. His wife, Gertrude, spent most of this time in seclusion. His father, Dr. Frederick C. Redfern, spent most of August 27-28 at The State Newspaper in Columbia awaiting word, which never came. Then on September 8, as reported in the Atlanta Journal, the last written communication by Paul Redfern surfaced, as the captain and crew of a ship, then docked in New Orleans, reported about their unexpected encounter with Paul Redfern and his brightly colored airplane.