Trans-Sierran Pioneer Flight – Nevada State Historic Marker

The Trans-Sierran Pioneer Flight marked a significant milestone in aviation history, reflecting the relentless pursuit of conquering new frontiers in flight. The Flight on March 22, 1919 is honored with Nevada State Historical Marker number 134 and located in Carson City along Highway 50.

Trans-Sierran Pioneer Flight- The first airplane flight over the Sierra Nevada mountains landed in Carson City on March 22, 1919.
The first airplane flight over the Sierra Nevada mountains landed in Carson City on March 22, 1919.

Early Aviation Ventures

In the early 20th century, aviation pioneers like Orville and Wilbur Wright laid the groundwork for powered flight. Their successful flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903 ignited a flurry of experimentation and innovation in aircraft design and piloting techniques. As aviation technology advanced, pilots became increasingly ambitious, seeking to push the boundaries of what was considered possible in the skies.

Governor Emmet Derby Boyle (July 26, 1879 – January 3, 1926)
Governor Emmet Derby Boyle (July 26, 1879 – January 3, 1926)

The Sierra Nevada mountain range, stretching along the eastern edge of California, presented a formidable obstacle for early aviators. With its towering peaks, rugged terrain, and unpredictable weather patterns, crossing the Sierra Nevada represented a significant challenge. However, the allure of conquering this natural barrier drove aviators to attempt daring feats of aerial navigation.

On March 22nd, 1919, just sixteen years after the Wright brothers flew for the first time, the Trans-Sierran Pioneer Flight flight of thee Liberty-powered Dehavillands and a 90 hp Curtiss Trainer took off from Mather Field, California and turned to the east. The flight of four places is the first authenticated flight over the Sierra Nevada Mountain range.

Before continue on to Reno, Nevada, the flight was greeted by then Governor Emmet Derby Boyle. On the return trip to Sacramento, Governor Doyle was a passenger on the turned flight.

Nevada State Historic Marker 134

Trans-Sierran Pioneer Flight

The first authenticated air flight over the Sierra Nevada was successfully completed when four U.S. Army planes touched down here on an improvised field.

Originating at Mather Field, Sacramento, and led by Lt. Col. Henry L. Watson, the squadron was made up of three Liberty-powered Dehavillands and one 90 hp Curtiss Trainer.

The fliers, personally welcomed by Governor Emmet D. Boyle, were Watson, Lts. Ruggles, Curtis, Krull, Schwartz, and Haggett, and Sgt. Conway.  Haggett introduced an added surprise by landing his small trainer, unannounced, some minutes after the main flight.

The flight concluded in Reno that afternoon.

Governor Boyle flew as a passenger in one of the planes on its return flight to Sacramento, thus making him the first civilian ever to cross the Sierra in flight.


Nevada State Historic Marker 134 Map

Nevada State Historic Marker 134 Summary

NameTrans-Sierran Pioneer Flight
LocationCarson City, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude39.1720, -119.7482
Nevada State Historic Marker134

Nevada State Historical Markers identify significant places of interest in Nevada’s history. The Nevada State Legislature started the program in 1967 to bring the state’s heritage to the public’s attention with on-site markers. These roadside markers bring attention to the places, people, and events that make up Nevada’s heritage. They are as diverse as the counties they are located within and range from the typical mining boom and bust town to the largest and most accessible petroglyph sites in Northern Nevada Budget cuts to the program caused the program to become dormant in 2009. Many of the markers are lost or damaged.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.