Monthly Archives: July 2017

31 July 1944

Commandant Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres. (John Phillips)
Commandant Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres. (John Phillips)

31 July 1944, famed French aviator and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint Exupéry), flying for the Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres (the Free French Air Force), departed Borgo Airfield on the island of Corsica. He on a reconnaissance mission of the Rhône Valley. His aircraft was a Lockheed F-5B-1-LO Lightning, serial number 42-68223, an unarmed photo reconnaissance variant of the P-38J Lighting twin-engine fighter.

Saint-Exupéry was never seen again.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry flying his Lockheed F-5B-1-LO Lightning near Alghero on the coast of Sardinia, 1944. (John e Annamaria Phillips Foundation)
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry flying his Lockheed F-5B-1-LO Lightning near Alghero on the coast of Sardinia, 1944. (John e Annamaria Phillips Foundation)

In 1998 a fisherman found his silver identity bracelet on the sea floor south of Marseilles. Parts of the aircraft were recovered in 2003.

“Saint-Ex” wrote Night Flight, Flight to ArrasWind, Sand and Stars and The Little Prince, as well as many other works. He was a gifted writer.

A pilot boards his Lockheed P-38 Lightning at sunset. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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30 July 1983

Dago Red, Reno, 1988 (Wikimedia)

30 July 1983: Flying a modified World War II-era fighter, Frank Taylor set a  Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Speed Over a 15/25 Kilometer Straight Course¹ with an average speed of 832.12 kilometers per hour (517.056 miles per hour)—(0.686 Mach). The record flight took place at Mojave Airport (MHV) in the high desert of southern California. The runway elevation at MHV is 2,801 feet above Sea level (853.8 meters). The airport is about 19 miles (30.6 kilometers) northwest of Edwards Air Force Base.

Flying magazine briefly commented the record run:

“. . . he ran the Mustang’s Merlin engine at 110 inches of manifold pressure [372.5 kilopascals] and 3,800 r.p.m. (it was designed for 61 inches and 3,000 r.p.m.) and fed it 110 gallons [416.4 liters] of 115/145-octane fuel with manganese additive, enough for only two passes.Flying, Vol. 112, No. 1, January 1985, at Page 64.

Taylor’s air racer was Dago Red,² a North American Aviation P-51D-30-NA Mustang. The fighter had been built at Inglewood, California, in 1944 with U.S. Army Air Corps serial number 44-74996. When the U.S. Air Force retired the last of its Mustangs from Air National Guard service in 1957, 44-74996 was sold as surplus.

Dago Red would have appeared like this F-51D when in U.S. Air Force markings. This fighter, 44-74998, was the second Mustang to be built by North American Aviation at Inglewood after Dago Red. (U.S. Air Force)

It was issued the civil registration N5410V. The Mustang changed ownership many times before it crashed following an engine failure at Concorde, California, 16 August 1970. After a decade in storage, the wreck was rebuilt as an air racer.

North American Aviation P-51D-30-NA Mustang 44-74996, N5410V. (Unattributed)

The P-51D was modified for air racing. It’s wings were “clipped” (shortened) and the upper fuselage re-shaped, both intended to reduce aerodynamic drag. Approximately 2½ feet (0.76 meters) were removed from each wing tip. The Rolls-Royce Merlin V-12 engine also received many internal modifications to increase power output, and to survive that increase. The Merlin turned a Hamilton Standard “paddle blade” propeller. (Dago Red‘s current engine is based on the post-war 620-series commercial variant.)

On 21 August 1989, an Unlimited Class Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat, Rare Bear, exceeded Dago Red‘s record speed while setting its own FAI record,³ averaging 850.24 kilometers per hour (528.315 miles per hour) over a shorter 3 kilometer course. Both airplanes’ records stood until they were retired due to changes in the sporting code.

In addition to its world speed record, Dago Red has won the National Championship Air Races six times.

Dago Red (Dago Red LLC)
Carrari Dago Red

¹ FAI Record File Number 8434

² “Dago Red” is a derogatory American slang term referring to an Italian-style blended dark red wine. It was also the name of a commercial brand sold in the 1970s. Dago Red sold for about $2.00 per bottle ($13.00 in 2017). (Thanks to “Dr. Vinny” for the info).

³ FAI Record File Number 8437

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

 

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30 July 1939

A color transparency of the Boeing XB-15
A color transparency of the Boeing XB-15

30 July 1939: Major Caleb Vance Haynes, United States Army Air Corps, with Captain William D. Old, Master Sergeant Adolph Cattarius and Staff Sergeant William J. Heldt, flew the Boeing XB-15 experimental long range heavy bomber to a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Greatest Payload Carried to a Height of 2,000 meters. The XB-15 carried 14,135 kilograms (31,162 pounds) to an altitude of 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) over Fairfield, Ohio.¹ The flight set a second record by carrying 10,000 kilograms (22,046 pounds) to an altitude of 8,228 feet (2,508 meters).² Both records were certified by the National Aeronautic Association, the American organization representing the FAI.

Major Caleb V. Haynes, Captain William D. Old, Master Sergeant Adolph Cattarius and Staff Sergeant William J. Heldt, crew of the record-setting Boeing XB-15. (FAI)
Boeing XB-15 35-277. (FAI)
Boeing XB-15 35-277
Boeing XB-15 35-277

The Boeing Model 294, designated XB-15 by the Air Corps, was an experimental airplane designed to determine if a bomber with a 5,000 mile range was possible. It was designed at the same time as the Model 299 (XB-17), which had the advantage of lessons learned by the XB-15 design team. The XB-15 was larger and more complex than the XB-17 and took longer to complete. It first flew more than two years after the prototype B-17.

Designers had planned to use an experimental 3,421.194-cubic-inch-displacement (56.063 liter) liquid-cooled, supercharged and turbosupercharged Allison V-3420 twenty-four cylinder, four-bank “double V” engine with a compression ratio of 6.65:1. It produced a maximum of  2,885 horsepower at 3,000 r.p.m. The engine was not available in time, however, and four air-cooled Pratt & Whitney R-1830 (Twin Wasp) engines were used instead. With one-third the horsepower, this substitution left the experimental bomber hopelessly underpowered as a combat aircraft.

Boeing XB-15 35-277, a prototype long-range heavy bomber. (U.S. Air Force)
Boeing XB-15 35-277, a prototype long-range heavy bomber. (U.S. Air Force)
Boeing XB-15 35-277. (U.S. Air Force)
Boeing XB-15 35-277. (U.S. Air Force)

The XB-15 was a very large four-engine mid-wing monoplane with retractable landing gear. It was of aluminum monocoque construction with fabric-covered flight control surfaces. The XB-15 had a ten-man crew which worked in shifts on long duration flights.

The prototype bomber was 87 feet, 7 inches (26.695 meters) long with a wingspan of 149 feet (45.415 meters) and overall height of 18 feet, 1 inch (5.512 meters). The airplane had an empty weight of 37,709 pounds (17,105 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 70,706 pounds (32,072 kilograms)—later increased to 92,000 pounds (41,730 kilograms).

As built, the XB-15 was powered by four air-cooled, supercharged, 1,829.39-cubic-inch-displacement (29.978 liter) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-11 (Twin Wasp S1B3-G) two-row 14-cylinder radial engines with a compression ratio of 6.7:1. The R-1830-11 was rated at 850 horsepower at 2,450 r.p.m. and 5,000 feet (1,524 meters), and 1,000 horsepower at 2,600 r.p.m. for take off. They turned three-bladed controllable-pitch propellers through a 3:2 gear reduction. The R-1830-11 was 4 feet, 8.66 inches (1.439 meters) long with a diameter of 4 feet, 0.00 inches (1.219 meters), and weighed 1,320 pounds (599 kilograms).

Boeing XB-15 35-277
Boeing XB-15 35-277

These gave the experimental airplane a maximum speed of 197 miles per hour (317 kilometers per hour) at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) and a cruise speed of 152 miles per hour (245 kilometers per hour) at 6,000 feet (1,829 meters). The service ceiling was 18,900 feet (5,761 meters) and maximum range was 5,130 miles (8,256 kilometers).

The bomber could carry a maximum of 12,000 pounds (5,443 kilograms) of bombs in its internal bomb bay, and was armed with three .30-caliber and three .50-caliber machine guns for defense .

Only one XB-15 was built. During World War II it was converted to a transport and redesignated XC-105. In 1945 it was stripped and abandoned at Albrook Field, Territory of the Canal Zone, Panama.

Boeing XC-105 35-277 in Panama
Boeing B-15 35-277 arrives in Panama (49509 A.C.)

¹ FAI Record File Number 8739

² FAI Record File Number 8740

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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29 July 1957

Bendix trophy winner Captain Kenneth D. Chandler, U.S. Air Force, in teh cockpit of Convair F-102A Delta Dagger 56-1196 (U.S. Air Force via Jet Pilot Overseas)
Bendix Trophy winner Captain Kenneth D. Chandler, U.S. Air Force, in the cockpit of Convair F-102A-65-CO Delta Dagger 56-1196 (Jet Pilot Overseas)

29 July 1957: Captain Kenneth D. Chandler, 11th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 343d Fighter Group (Air Defense), U.S. Air Force, won the Bendix Trophy Race, flying a Convair F-102A Delta Dagger from O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois, to Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington, D.C., a distance of 619.73 miles (997.36 kilometers). His elapsed time was 54 minutes, 45.5 seconds, for an average speed of 679.053 miles per hour (1,092.830 kilometers per hour).

Cnvair F-102A-65-CO Delta Dagger 56-1196 with its drogue 'chute deployed on landing at Andrews Air Force Base, 28 July 1957. (From the Collection of Johan Ragay)
Cnvair F-102A-65-CO Delta Dagger 56-1196 with its drogue ‘chute deployed on landing at Andrews Air Force Base, 28 July 1957. (From the Collection of Johan Ragay)

The six F-102 interceptors in the race departed O’Hare at five minute intervals. Captain Chandler, flying the fifth Delta Dagger, departed at 1320.0 hours.

Captain Chandler’s commanding officer, Colonel Robert L. Gould, also flying an F-102, placed second in the race.

Chandler’s F-102 ran out of fuel while taxiing to the ramp.

Captain Kenneth D. Cahnadler's Convair F-102A Delta Dagger, 56-1196, at Andrews Air Force Base, 28 July 1957. (From the Collection of Johan Ragay, with much appreciation—TDiA)
Captain Kenneth D. Chandler’s Convair F-102A Delta Dagger, 56-1196, at Andrews Air Force Base, 28 July 1957. (From the Collection of Johan Ragay)

The Chicago Daily Tribune reported the event:

KOREA JET ACE WINS BENDIX TROPHY RACE

Sets New Record of 679 M.P.H.

Washington, July 28 (AP)—Capt. Kenneth D. Chandler, a Korean War jet ace, set a new Bendix Air Race record of 679 miles an hour today.

     Chandler, 33, flew a Convair F-102 delta wing interceptor 620 miles from Chicago’s O’Hare field to nearby Andrews Air Force Base, Md., in 54 minutes, 45½ seconds. Five other Air Force pilots made the race, flying F-102s.

     Second place went to Col. Robert L. Gould of Baltimore, with an elapsed time of 55:16:8.

Chicagoan Is Third

     Captain Leroy W. Svendesen of Chicago placed third with an elapsed time of 55:17:2. There was a difference of only about two minutes in the times of the first and last place planes.

     Chandler smashed the 666 mile an hour set last year by Maj. Manuel (Pete) Fernandez. Fernandez flew an F-100 from Victorville, Cal., to Oklahoma City.

     The Ricks Memorial trophy flight today also ended at Andrews. The winner of the 2,680 mile flight from Fresno, Cal., was Maj. Peter R. Phillipy, 35, of Pittsburgh. Phillipy made the trip in 4 hours, 13 minutes and 40 seconds, averaging 638 miles an hour.

Springfield Pilot 2d

     Second place was won by Capt. Shirley V. Drum, 29, of Springfield, Ill.

     Chicago area pilots in the race were Maj. Aloysius X. Hiltgen, 33, of Park Ridge, whose time was 4:31:7, and Capt. John C. Nowacki, 34, of Cicero, 4:31:36.

     The Bendix and Ricks air races were highlights of an air show sponsored by the Air Force Association, in a salute the 50th anniversary of the United States Air Force.

     A crowd estimated at more than 75,000 persons witnessed the first public flights of the Ryan X-13 Vertijet and the Republic F-105 supersonic fighter-bomber.

Chicago Daily Tribune, Volume CXVI—NO. 180, Monday, July 29, 1957, Part 1, Page 15, Columns 1–3.

The tally board shows the departure times and elapsed times of each pilot. Chandler is number five. (Jet Pilot Overseas)
The tally board shows the departure times and elapsed times of each pilot. Chandler is number five. (Jet Pilot Overseas)
Captain Kenneth D. Chandler, United States Air Force, with the Bendix Trophy. (Jet Pilot Overseas)
Captain Kenneth D. Chandler, United States Air Force, with the Bendix Trophy. (Jet Pilot Overseas)

The Convair F-102A Delta Dagger was a single-place, single engine, supersonic all-weather interceptor. It featured a delta wing and was based on the experimental Convair XF-92 of 1948.

The F-102A was the first production model and was vastly improved over the YF-102 pre-production prototypes, which had first flown 24 October 1953. The redesigned YF-102A made its first flight 20 December 1954, and the first production F-102A flew six months later, 24 June 1955.

The Convair F-102A was 68 feet, 4.5 inches (20.841 meters) long with a wingspan of 38 feet, 1.5 inches (11.621 meters) and overall height of 21 feet, 2.5 inches (6.464 meters). It had an empty weight of 19,350 pounds (8,777 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 31,500 pounds (14,288 kilograms).

The F-102A was powered by a Pratt & Whitney J57-P-23 axial-flow turbojet engine. The J57 had a 9-stage, low-pressure and 7-stage high-pressure compressor section, and a single-stage high-pressure turbine and 2-stage low-pressure turbine. The J57-P-23 was rated at 10,200 pounds of thrust, or 16,000 pounds with afterburner. The engine was 20 feet, 4 inches (6.198 meters) long and 3 feet, 3 inches (0.991 meters) in diameter. It weighed 5,175 pounds (2,347 kilograms).

Compare this overhead view of a Convair F-102A-90-CO Delta Dagger, 57-0809, to that of the prototype YF-102 at top. The "wasp waist" area rule fuselage is very noticeable. U.S. Air Force)
A Convair F-102A-90-CO Delta Dagger, 57-0809. The “wasp waist” area-rule fuselage is very noticeable. (U.S. Air Force)

The Convair Delta Dagger was the first American production interceptor that could reach supersonic speed in level flight. Its maximum speed was Mach 1.25 (825 miles per hour, 1,328 kilometers per hour) at 35,000 feet (10,668 meters). The service ceiling was 53,400 feet (16,276 meters).

Armament consisted of six Hughes AIM-4 Falcon missiles, either radar-homing, infrared-homing, or a combination of both. The missile bay doors contained launch tubes for twenty-four 2.75-inch (70 millimeter) unguided Folding Fin Aerial Rockets (FFAR).

A Convair F-102A Delta Dagger launches three AIM-4 Falcon guided missiles. (U.S. Air Force)
A Convair F-102A Delta Dagger launches three AIM-4 Falcon guided missiles. (U.S. Air Force)

Between 1955 and 1958, Convair built 889 F-102A Delta Dagger interceptors. The F-102A remained in service with the U.S. Air Force Air Defense Command until 1973, and with the Air National Guard to 1976.

The Bendix Trophy-winning F-102A, 56-1196, was delivered from Convair to the 326th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 328th Fighter Group (Air Defense), at Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, south of Kansas City, Missouri, on 2 July 1957. It later served with a number of Air Force and Air National Guard squadrons. Its last operational unit was the 157th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, South Carolina Air National Guard. Placed in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona, in March 1975. 56-1196 was converted to a QF-102A target drone, and in August 1978, a PQM-102B.

The Bendix Trophy-winning Convair F-102A Delta Dagger, 56-1196, in storage at The Boneyard. The interceptor is wearing the markings of the South Carolina Air National Guard.
The Bendix Trophy-winning Convair F-102A Delta Dagger, 56-1196, in storage at The Boneyard, circa 1975. The interceptor is wearing the markings of the South Carolina Air National Guard. The interceptor’s fuselage missile bays are open.

Kenneth Donald Chandler was born 14 October 1923 at Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the second of six children of Thomas Brown Chandler, a cabinet maker, and Gladys A. Smith Chandler. While growing up, his family lived in Phoenix, Arizona, and Compton, California.

During World War II, Chandler flew Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter bombers in the European Theater of Operations. In 1950, he flew a North American Aviation F-86A Sabre as Captain Chuck Yeager’s wingman during the filming of aerial sequences for Howard Hughes’ movie, “Jet Pilot,” which starred John Wayne and Janet Leigh. (RKO Pictures, 1957.)

While flying an F-86 Sabre with the 336th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 4th Fighter Interceptor Group, 18 November 1951, Chandler, flying just ten feet over the ground, destroyed four enemy Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 15s parked at the south end of Uiju Airfield, on the North Korean side of the Yalu River. He and his wingman, Lieutenant Dayton W. Ragland, damaged several others. On 13 December, he shot down a MiG 15, but his Sabre, F-86A-5-NA 49-1159, ingested debris from the damaged enemy airplane. Chandler flew the crippled fighter to the vicinity of Chŏ-do Island, where he bailed out and was rescued by two South Korean airmen in a small boat, and taken to a waiting helicopter.

Captain Chandler and 1st Lieutenant Frank Latora, both of the 343d Fighter Group, were killed when their Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star jet trainer crashed 12 miles (19 kilometers) north east of Parker, Colorado, while on a ground-controlled approach to Lowry Air Force Base on the night of Friday, 28 March 1958. Captain Chandler’s remains are buried at Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, California.

TDiA would like to express its appreciation to Johan Ragay for the use of the exceptional photographs of 56-1196, and for some additional details of its service history.

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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29 July 1938, 04:11 GCT [Greenwich Civil Time]

Pan American Martin M-130 Flying boat, NX14714, 9 September 1935. (Glenn L. Martin Co.)
Pan American Martin M-130 Flying boat, NX14714, 9 September 1935. (Lockheed Martin)

29 July 1938: At 12:08 p.m., local time, the Pan American Airways flying boat Hawaii Clipper lifted off from the waters of Apra Harbor on the west side of Guam, an island in the western Pacific Ocean. The Clipper was on a planned 12½ hour flight to Manila in the Philippine Islands. On board were a crew of nine, with six passengers.

Hawaii Clipper never arrived at its destination. What happened to it and the fifteen persons on board remains one of the enduring mysteries of aviation history.

The flight was designated Trip #229. It had originated at Alameda, on San Francisco Bay, California, and flew to Honolulu in the Hawaiian Islands, then on to Midway Island, Wake Island, and Guam.

The Pan Am crew consisted of Captain Leo Terletzky, First Officer Mark A. Walker, Second Officer George M. Davis, Third Officer Jose M. Sauceda, Fourth Officer John W. Jewett, Engineer Officer Howard l. Cox, Assistant Engineer Officer T.B. Tatum, and Radio Officer William McGarty. The passengers were attended by Flight Steward Ivan Parker.

Captain Terletzky held a Transport Pilot’s License issued by the Aeronautics Branch of the United States Department of Commerce. He had flown more that 9,200 hours, and 1,614 hours in the Martin M-130.

Captain Terletzky's Transport Pilot License, issued 13 February 1930.
Captain Terletzky’s Transport Pilot’s License, issued 13 February 1930. (The Pan Am Historical Foundation)
Leo Terletzky (Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register)

Captain Terletzky (there are alternate spellings, such as Terletsky, and he was also known as Leo Terlitz) was born 18 January 1894 at Odessa, Imperial Russia (now, Ukraine).

Following the Russian Revolution, he left his native country and traveled to Omsk, Siberia, and then to Yokohama, Japan, where he embarked on S.S. Empress of Japan, on 28 March 1919. The passenger liner arrived at Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 6 April. He then traveled on to Seattle, Washington, via the Canadian Pacific Railroad, arriving there on 9 April 1919.

Terletzky became a naturalized citizen of the United States, 15 December 1924. On 1 July 1919, he married Miss Helen Sarepta Bowman at Miami Beach, Florida.

Canadian Pacific passenger liner S.S. Empress of Japan, passing First Narrows, seen from Brockton Point, looking north. This ship made 315 Pacific crossings. (Major James Skitt Matthews)

The airliner’s six passengers were: Lieutenant Commander Edward E. Wyman, United States Naval Reserve, of Bronxville, New York. Commander Wyman was the former assistant to Juan Trippe, the founder of Pan American Airways. He was now employed by Curtiss-Wright. Pan American’s traffic manager, Kenneth A. Kennedy, was also on board.  Colonel Earl E. McKinley, M.D., United States Army Reserve, Dean of Medicine at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., a bacteriologist, and Fred C. Meier, Ph.D., were collecting airborne bacteriological samples to research transocean bacterial transfer. Major Howard C. French, Air Corps, United States Army (Reserve), the commanding officer of the 321st Observer Squadron based at Vancouver, Washington. Finally, there was Choy Wah Sun (also known as “Watson Choy”), of New Jersey. Mr. Choy was believed to be transporting $3,000,000 in U.S. Gold Certificates for the Kuomintang, the Nationalist Party of China, which was headed by Chiang Kai-shek.

A United States $10,000 Gold Certificate, Series 1934. (Bureau of Engraving and Printing)

Hawaii Clipper was a Martin M-130, NC14714. It was the first of three of the type built for Pan American Airways. With the experimental registration NX14714, it had made its first flight at Middle River, Maryland, 30 December 1934.

When Hawaii Clipper departed Alameda, it had flown 4,751:55 hours, TTAF. When it made its last position report, it had flown another 55 hours, 58 minutes.

The first Martin M-130, NC14714, undergoing ground testing at the Glenn L. Martin Co. plant at Middle River, Maryland, 30 November 1934. (Lockheed Martin)

The Martin M-130 was a large, four-engine flying boat of all-metal construction, designed to carry as many as 36 passengers on transoceanic flights. The M-130 was 90 feet, 10.5 inches (27.699 meters) long with a wingspan of 130 feet, 0 inches (39.624 meters). It was 24 feet, 7 inches (7.493 meters) high. The flying boat had a maximum takeoff weight of 52,252 pounds (23,701 kilograms).

The M-130 was powered by four air-cooled, supercharged Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp S2A5-G two-row 14-cylinder radial engines with a compression ratio of 6.5:1. The S2A5-G had a Normal Power rating of 830 horsepower at 2,400 r.p.m. to 3,600 feet (1,097 meters), and 950 horsepower at 2,550 r.p.m. for takeoff, using 87-octane gasoline. The engines drove three-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic constant-speed propellers through a 3:2 gear reduction. The S2A5-G was 4 feet, 8.75 inches (1.442 meters) long, 3 feet, 11.88 inches (1.216 meters) in diameter, and weighed 1,235 pounds (560 kilograms).

The airplane had a maximum speed of 180 miles per hour (290 kilometers per hour), and a cruise speed of 130 miles per hour (209 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling was 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). Its range was 3,200 miles (5,150 kilometers).

A pair of Pan American Airways Martin M-130 flying boats at Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaiian Islands. (Hawaii Aviation)
A pair of Pan American Airways Martin M-130 flying boats at Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaiian Islands. (Hawaii Aviation)

Hawaii Clipper departed its mooring at Apra Harbor at 11:39 a.m., local time (3:39 a.m., Manila time) and lifted off 29 minutes later. In addition to its six passengers, the airliner was carrying 1,138 pounds (516 kilograms) of cargo. The duration of the flight was estimated as 12 hours, 30 minutes. The M-130 carried sufficient fuel for 17 hours, 30 minutes of flight. Its gross weight was 49,894 pounds (22,632 kilograms) at takeoff, well under its maximum takeoff weight.

At 04:11 Greenwich Civil Time (12:11 p.m., local time), Radio Officer McGarty sent Hawaii Clipper‘s coded 04:00 Ded Reckoning ² position report. The deciphered message read:

Flying in rough air at 9,100 feet. Temperature 13 ˚C., wind 19 knots from 247˚ Position N. 12˚27, E 130˚40, ground speed made good, 112 knots, desired track 282˚. Rain. During past hour conditions varied. 10/10ths sky above covered by strato cumulus clouds, base 9,200 feet. Clouds below 10/10ths sky covered by cumulus clouds whose tops were 9,200 feet. 5/10ths of the hour on instruments. Last DF bearing from Manila 101˚

This placed the Clipper approximately 582 nautical miles (670 kilometers) east southeast of Manila. The transmission was acknowledged. When the land-based radio operator tried to make contact one minute later to provide updated weather information, he received no reply. There were no further radio transmissions received.

When Hawaii Clipper did not arrive at Manila, a large ocean search was begun. On 30 July, the Unites States Army transport ship USAT Meigs discovered an oil slick approximately 28 nautical miles (52 kilometers) south southeast of the flying boat’s last reported position. The slick was described as being approximately 1,500 feet (457 meters) in circumference.

No physical evidence of the Martin M-130 has ever been found. What happened to cause its disappearance is unknown.

While it is assumed that the airplane went down at sea, that might not have been the case.

A telephone company employee on Lahuy Island (a small island of the coast of Luzon, east southeast of Manila) reported having heard a large airplane above clouds at 3 p.m. Manila Time. In 1938, the number of large airplanes operating in the Philippine Islands must have been fairly limited.

As with the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan the previous year, there was no shortage of “conspiracy theories.” An example is that agents of the Empire of Japan had stowed away aboard Hawaii Clipper, hijacked the airplane and it was flown to Ulithi, and then Truk. The story goes on the the passengers and crew were murdered and their bodies were buried under the foundation of a hospital under construction.

Kawanishi H6K Type 97 Large Flying Boat.

Another story is that the Clipper was intercepted by a Japanese flying boat, such as the Kawanishi H6K Type 97 Large Flying Boat, which forced it to an unknown destination, similar to the story above.

Only six months earlier, another Pan American flying boat, Samoan Clipper, a Sikorsky S-42B, NC16734, disappeared about two hours out of Pago Pago. The airliner is believed to have exploded in midair. In that case, an oil slick and wreckage were found.

¹ Following the United States’ entry into World War II, Captain Terletzky’s widow, Mrs. Sarepta B. Terletzky, (née Helen Sarepta Bowman), a graduate of Smith College, joined the United States Navy. She was commissioned as a Lieutenant, W-VS, United States Naval Reserve, 4 August 1942. On 1 December 1945, she was promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander, and to commander, 1 January 1950. Mrs. Terletzky had been born at New York City, New York, 28 September 1895. She died at Miami, Florida, 4 August 1970.

² Ded Reckoning (Deductive Reckoning, often erroneously referred to as “dead reckoning,” is a method of navigation which uses a previously known position, time of flight, estimated speed of the aircraft based on forecast weather conditions, etc., to estimate the current geographical position. It is the standard method of navigation in the absence of radio aids or satellite position.

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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