By: Clark B McCurdy
My Uncle Russell Norton Boardman owned the Granville Racer GeeBee #7-11 (Model R-2) for a period up until his death in the aircraft while participating in the Bendix Cross Country Race in 1933. The crash occurred while Russell was on takeoff from an airport near Indianapolis, I believe, in strong gusty crosswinds. Evidently he snatched the plane off the ground in a strong gust decay situation and flew up into a slow flight and stall situation. The aircraft immediately snap rolled into the ground. He died two days after the crash from head injuries and impacts to the chest.
Two years earlier in 1931 he and His copilot/mechanic Johnny Polando flew a Belanca to Istanbul from New York City setting a world long distance record for the time of over 5000 miles. President Hover gave them both the Distinguished Flying Cross upon their return to the US with the airplane. Johnny’s widow Dorthy lives here in Portsmouth, NH near me and we attend the military pilot fraternity “Daedalions” Chapter meetings each month together. She has published her book on the flight entitled “Wings Over Istanbul”, Published by Peter E Randall, Publisher, Portsmouth, NH. On the cover is the photograph of Russell in the left seat and Johnny in the right seat.
I never met my uncle Rusell as I was born some two and a half years later after his death. But he and his brother, my uncle Earl Boardman, were the ones whom I have followed as guides in my own aviation career.
Jimmy Doolittle was hired to fly the plane for my uncle Russell in the Thompson Trophy races in Indianapolis as he had been injured in an earlier crash. These were regular occurrences in the era of aviation. One always need to be on the lookout for your next unexpected landing field.