Aviation Pioneers

Steponas Darius, A Brave Lithuanian-American Aviator

You can find many great individuals in the history of aviation who were ready to go all lengths to help aviation industry develop and grow. Some of these people were so determined that in order to aid the growth of the industry, they lost their very own lives. In this short article we are going to discuss the life of Steponas Darius, one of these brave aviators.

Life And Career Of Steponas Darius

He wa s born Steponas Jucevičius-Darašius on the 9th of January 1896 in Rubiškės, in Russian Empire’s Kovno Governorate which is today located in Lithuania. Not much is known about his early life in the Russian Empire, as he and his family immigrated to the United States at a very young age. Darius’ family went to the U.S. in 1907 with hopes for a better life, when he was 11 years old.

Steponas Darius
Steponas Darius

At the age of 21, Darius joined the U.S. Army following the declaration of war against Germany in the World War I. He first started serving as a telephone operator and then also played a more active role, figthing against the Central Powers in France and getting wounded in the process. As a result of this, Darius received the Purple Heart medal, which is one of the oldest military awards still given to those who get wounded or killed while serving.

Three years after joining the U.S. Army, Darius returned to his home country, Lithuania, in 1920. The following year, he graduated from War School of Kaunas and joined the Lithuanian Army to serve his country using his skills and experience as a soldier. While serving in the Lithuanian Army, he played a role in the Klaipėda Revolt that took place in 1923 against the French Administration.

As he was living in Lithuania, he helped the development of many different kinds of sports and also participated in them himself. He was the first person to publish booklets in Lithuania about basketball and baseball and he also started the construction of the first stadium in Kaunas, which was later named after him.

During his service in Lithuania, he finished his pilot training and went back to the U.S. in 1927. In the United States he got involved in civil aviation and established the South Bend Airways with Carl G. Jordan in Indiana. Their small fleet was made up of two aircraft; one Pheasant H-10 and one Eaglerock Long Wing.

Steponas Darius’ Death

Darius’ life was dedicated to the betterment of the world and the development of the areas he was passionate about. He literally fought to protect his country and his people, supported the advance of sports in Lithuania and was determined to aid the growth of the aviation industry. His devoted and disciplined nature helped him achieve most of the goals he set for himself.

However, his devotion also caused his dawnfall. On the 15th of July 1933, he and another Lithuanian-American aviator named Stasys Girėnas tried to fly from NYC to Kaunas, Lithuania non-stop. At first, the flight seemed like a success but as they were only 650 kilometers away from their destination, they crashed and both pilots were killed in the accident.


Anon. (n.d.), Steponas Darius, Wikipedia, Retrieved 7 July 2021

< https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steponas_Darius >