World Aviation in 1937

13 March
Italy announces a four-year expansion programme for its air force.

1 April
New Zealand Permanent Air Force adopts a new name , the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

6-9 April
Mitsubishi Type 97 (Ki125) J-BAAI ‘Kamikaze’ is flown by Masaaki Iinuma, with Kenji Tsukagoshi as his navigator, from Tashikawa to Croydon to capture the Japan to England record. The flight takes 51 hours 17minutes 23 seconds and covers a distance of 15,356 kilometres (9,542 miles).

19 April
The first letter to encircle the world by commercial air mail is despatched from New York via San Francisco to Hong Kong, Penang, Amsterdam and Brazil and arrives back in New York on 25 May.

26 April
German aircraft of the Legion Condor, operating with Spanish Nationalist Forces, bomb Guernica, seat of the Basque government. This act becomes a symbol of the inhumanity of aerial bombing.

6 May
German hydrogen-filled airship, the ‘Hindenburg’, is destroyed by fire whilst docking at Lakehurst in New Jersey. 33 of the 97 people on board are killed.

8 May
A new altitude record is set at Montecelio in Italy when Lieutenant Colonel M. Pezzi flies a Caproni 161 to 15,655 metres (51,362 feet).

29 May
German battleship ‘Deutchland’ is attacked by Spanish Republican air units near Ivaza in the Balearic Islands. 28 people are killed and 71 injured.

2 July
Amelia Earhart and Captain Fred Noonan are lost over the Pacific during an attempted round the world flight.

7 July
Following clashes with Chinese troops at Lukouchiao near Peiping, Japan initiates a full scale invasion of China.

12-14 July
Soviet ANT-25 (RD-2) Colonel M.M. Gromov, Commandant A.B. Yumashev and Ing S.A. Danilin establish a new distance record for the Soviet Union. The flight covers a total distance of 10,148 kilometres (6,306 miles) from Moscow to San Jacinto in California via the North Pole.

25 October
Hanna Reitch, flying a Focke Wulf Fw61, establishes a distance record for helicopters of 108 kilometres (67 miles).

26 December
Pan American World Airways (Pan-Am) flying-boat ‘Samoa Clipper’ inaugurates the first air mail and freight service between the USA and New Zealand.