On July 15, 1931, two Hungarians crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Aside from breaking a number of records, Sándor Magyar and György Endresz aimed to call attention to Hungary’s dismemberment following the Treaty of Trianon after World War I.
Navigator Sándor Magyar originally came up with the idea following Charles Lindbergh’s flight in 1927. The American-Hungarian Transatlantic Committee took charge of organizing the venture and planned to cover the expenses by selling postcards for one dollar each. However, by June 1930, they had only managed to collect $5,000 in the US and Canada and $45 in Hungary – which wasn’t even enough to order the plane. Emil Szalay, a Hungarian sausage maker from Michigan, stepped up, mortgaging his salami factory and donating $20,000 towards the initiative.
In addition, famed British newspaper tycoon Lord Rothermere also offered $10,000 to the cause. He was also the one who came up with using “Justice for Hungary” as the mission’s slogan and the plane’s name, a Lockheed-Sirius model.
Signed on June 4, 1920, in the Grand Trianon château of Versailles, the treaty split up the territories of the collapsed Austro-Hungarian Monarchy as a result of their defeat in World War I. Subsequently, Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory and 3.3 million ethnic Hungarians were left outside the borders.
The two finally left Harbor-Grace in Newfoundland on July 15, 1931. Their non-stop flight took 26 hours and 20 minutes covering 5770 kilometers in total. Due to unfavorable weather conditions, they were forced to make a number of bypasses resulting in their fuel running out earlier than planned. As a consequence, they were unable to land at the planned site of Mátyásföld, an airfield on the outskirts of Budapest where thousands were awaiting them. Instead, they were forced to touch down 25 kilometers short, in a cornfield close to Bicske and Felcsút, in Fejér County.
Justice for Hungary’s landing near Bicske.
Endresz and Magyar were first-timers in many aspects: besides having been only the 15th voyeurs worldwide to cross the Atlantic in a plane, and of course, the first Hungarians to do so, they also broke Lindbergh’s record, whose flight took six hours longer. Their average speed of 250 kilometers per hour above the ocean was also of record. Moreover, this was the first time that such a flight was used for political purposes.
Not surpisingly, on July 20, they were received as heroes in Budapest. While Miklós Horthy and his regime were keen to exploit the performance for political propaganda and helping their revisionist aims, during communism the story was neglected, and no photos could be published that displayed the slogan. In 1991, however, Budaörs airport’s sports jet association was named after Endresz just like the Primary School of Felcsút that bears his name since 2005.
featured image: Endresz, sponsor Szalay and Magyar.