EAA Chapter 905 - Paul Redfern Chapter

St. Simons Island, Georgia

About Us

EAA’s local chapters are about people, bringing together individuals interested in learning more about aviation as well as sharing their own knowledge.

Chapter members are involved in a variety of social and educational activities, including Young Eagles rallies, fly-ins, building seminars, and more, to build awareness in the community.

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History of  “Paul Redfern”, namesake of EAA Chapter 905

Paul Rinaldo Redfern was born in 1902 to Blanche Myrtle Redfern and Dr. Frederick Coachefer Redfern in Rochester, NY. As a teenager, Paul lived in Columbia, S.C. where his father was a Dean at Benedict College His mother taught English at Benedict and represented South Carolina as a delegate at national political conventions.

Paul was a mechanical and musical prodigy. He was planning to go to MIT, but after building several planes, he was asked by the U.S. government at age 16 to go to N.J. to be a production inspector for the Army Air Corps at the Standard Aircraft Company. Upon returning to South Carolina, he became a barnstormer at air shows and started the first airport in Columbia, S.C. He married Gertrude Hildebrand in Toledo, Ohio in 1925.

In 1927 Redfern became the first person to fly solo across the Caribbean Sea and the first aviator to attempt to fly nonstop from North to South America.

Departing from St. Simon’s beach he was spotted by the Norwegian freighter Christian Krogh, a few hundred miles off the coast of South America, after dropping a message asking for the ship to be turned in the direction of the nearest land.  When nearing Venezuela, he was spotted by a fisherman just off the coast and then later by others in towns and outposts in Venezuela.

He failed to arrive in Rio de Janeiro, and over the years more than a dozen search parties were organized to find the wreckage of his airplane. 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.

In 1929, Lindbergh skimmed the sands of the Sea Island, Georgia beach that Redfern took off from and dropped carnations in his fellow flyer's honor. If Redfern had reached his destination, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, his 4,600 miles (7,400 km) flight would have outdistanced Lindbergh’s solo crossing of the Atlantic.

Redfern had an alternative landing site planned if his fuel ran too low, but it is unknown whether he pursued that alternative or decided to continue on to Rio where thousands awaited his arrival, including the President of Brazil and movie star Clara Bow.

Listed below is a chronology of rescue/search attempts.

In September 1927, George Tate, sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, went to look for Redfern. Rumors that he was still alive persisted as late as 1932.

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

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

In February 1938, Frederick John Fox died while trying to locate Redfern.

In April 1938 Theodore J. Waldeck reported that he had found the wreckage of Redfern's plane.

Redfern’s father died in 1941, still hoping that his son would be found alive. His widow, Gertrude Hildebrand, died in 1981 and was buried in Detroit, Michigan.

In 1988 Robert Carlin believed that Redfern had flown over Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela only to be killed in a crash in the jungle and that a report that aviator Jimmy Angel had seen wreckage of Redfern's plane was not bragging but correct.  Carlin believed the area to be approximately 40 miles NNW of Angel Falls. No wreckage has ever been recovered.

EAA Chapter 905 is proud to be named after this heroic pioneer aviator.

 

EAA 905
President: Jerry Latvala
Contact: 912-269-2155 | jblatval@bellsouth.net
Meetings: Every 2nd Sunday 12:30 PM
Location:
EAA Clubhouse
1797 Demere Road
St Simons Island, GA 31522

EAA Chapters Silver
Programs: IMC Club, VMC Club, Young Eagles, Technical Counselors, Eagle Flights
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