Sunday, April 26, 2009
Flying the PAN AM Boeing 314
Another great article from Flight Global archives on Flying the New Boeing 314.
The Flightglobal Archive invites you to explore 100 years of aviation history as it appeared in the original pages of Flight Magazine from 1909-2005.
The necessities of sheer size and relative complication have
demanded that the work of flying and navigating the
Boeing 314 shall be divided between the members of a large
crew, and the operating quarters in the machine have been
designed with a spaciousness which permits such an arrangement
to work really well. In the illustrations above that
on the left shows the crew's flying quarters as a whole,
with the navigator at his table on the left, the two pilots at
the controls in the nose, and the radio operator and the
engineer on the right. The picture in the centre gives an idea
of the freedom and space which is available for the navigator
—notice the telescopic drift-sight and the essential flying
instruments on the left of the chart table. On the far right
the engineer's controls and instruments are shown in detail
—complete with pencil-sharpener ; among other things the
engineer looks after the engine cooling flaps, manifold
pressures and the automatic mixture controls.
Trying Out the New Boeing 314 : The
" Yankee Clipper" at Southampton :
Modern Ideas in Equipment and Operation :
Making Use of Sheer Size
THIS first of the 1939 Atlantic flights over the Azores
route by the Pan-American Airways' Boeing 314
Yankee Clipper may be considered more as a full-scale
test for the new boat rather than as a survey flight.
Two seasons ago the company used a Sikorsky S.42B for
direct crossings between Botwood and Foynes—in collaboration
with Imperial Airways who made similar flights with
the Short boats Cambria and Caledonia—and on another
crossing a similar route was used. In any case, Pan-
American Airways' officials and engineers have been over to
the Azores and to Lisbon during the past months, and the
only necessary survey, as such, was that in connection with
the test of the short-wave direction-finding stations which
have been installed by P.A.A. at Horta, in the Azores,
and at Lisbon.
As a test for the big Boeing, however, the trip must
have been extremely informative to the most prodigious
crew carried in the 314, and many of the little difficulties in
the matter of engine maintenance, radio and navigational
equipment, and the duties of the personnel will have been
settled. In particular, the system by which, in such large
machines, the work of the different members of the crew
is very clearly defined will have been usefully tried out
in practice over long periods.
The Boeing left Baltimore on March 26, and reached
Horta, in the Azores, after a flight of some 2,450 miles, in
17 h. 37 min., carrying a crew of twelve and nine passengers,
including Pan-American, Boeing, Curtiss-Wright,
Civic Aeronautics Authority and United States Air Service
representatives. Three days later, on March 30, the machine
—which, like the 42B used in 1937 for the Atlantic experiments,
is commanded by Capt. Harold E. Gray—left for
Lisbon, flying the 1,100-mile second stage in just over 7 hr.,
an average of approximately 155 m.p.h. The section to
Biscarosse, near Bordeaux, was covered on April 2, and on
the next day Capt. Gray took off and reached Marseilles,
before leaving on April 4 for Southampton, where the
machine arrived at about 330 p.m.
As soon as the Boeing had made its two circuits of
Southampton Water in order to give the local population
a chance of looking at America's latest flying boat—and,
also, incidentally, a chance for the commander to find any
odd area of open water which might or might not be available
in this restricted area—the machine was brought in and
taxied cautiously up to No. 3 Imperial Airways mooring.
A little earlier the Short Connemara, one of the modified
" C " Class boats which will later be used for our own
Atlantic services, had arrived in formation, the American ship somewhat overshadowing
the other. Meanwhile, a host of photographic
and other machines were patrolling the sky and, when the
Boeing eventually made its circuits, something like a
dozen aeroplanes, varying in size from a Puss Moth to a
Rapide, dived after it at full throttle. In fact, what with
a few Lysanders, Ansons, Harts and Spitfires, the sky must
have appeared to Capt. Gray to be dangerously crowded,
and there were apparently two or three bad seconds when
collision was only narrowly averted.
As soon as the Boeing was safely moored arrangements
were made for refuelling, since the machine was due to
leave for Foynes early the next morning. In due course,
Capt. Gray and some of his crew, including his first officer,
Capt. A. E. La Porte, came on board the Calshot, the
tug which had been expropriated by Imperial Airways for
the official and Press welcome. They were met by, among
others, Sir Francis Shelmerdine, the D.C.A., Col. N. F.
Scanlan and Major G. C. McDonald from the U.S.
Embassy, and Lt.-Col. Burchall, Major R. H. Mayo, Major
H. G. Brackley and Capt. A. S. Wilcockson of Imperial
On April 5, at 7.58 a.m., the Yankee
Clipper took off across Southampton Water
after a run lasting about forty seconds, clearing
the shore by very little margin. Some
three-quarters of an hour later the machine
returned because '' the latest weather information
indicated that the conditions at
Foynes were not suitable for a survey such as
is desired by the C.A.A. officers." Since the
possible weather developments on the west
coast of Ireland could not have radically
changed in less than an hour, it is to be supposed
that the machine returned for other
reasons. After all, one cannot expect an entirely
new flying boat, with, for instance,
engines which are still to some extent experimental,
to complete a strenuous flight of this
description without minor troubles. The
boat was due to leave for Foynes on
Undoubtedly the most interesting feature
of the Boeing 314 is the way in which the
crew's duties have been carefully divided,
and the flight deck arranged with a spacious-
Some idea of the size of the machine and the
area of the sponsons may be gained from this
photograph of the crew being taken aboard one
of the Imperial Airways' Power tenders.
ness which gives the various members of the operating
staff a chance to do their work in the best possible conditions.
On its crossings the Boeing is carrying no fewer
than twelve members of the crew. Six of them, including
the commander, Capt. Gray, and the first officer, Capt.
La Porte, are pilots, while there is one chief engineer
officer, two flight mechanics, two radio operators and a
Of these, the first and second officers share the bulk of
the actual flying, though one of the other flight officers
may take over from time to time or help with the navigation,
which is normally carried out by the third officer
under instructions from the commander. The latter does
comparatively little flying and is there to take the necessary
final responsibility, and to correlate the work of the
various members of the crew. In the ordinary way he is
at the controls during the take-off and the approach and
landing. The engineer and radio officers are, of course,
specialists in the operation of the power plant and the
All the incidental engine controls and instruments are
looked after by the engineer, who is seated at the rear of the flying quarters, and this means that the actual control
cabin can be very tidy. In fact, the two pilots merely
look after the master engine controls and the various trimming
controls, and have before them duplicate blind flying
panels with, in the centre, the Sperry pilot panel and certain
master engine and temperature instruments. The
throttle and trimming controls and indicators are arranged
in boxes on each side of the cockpit on the left- and righthand
side of the first and second pilot respectively.
The navigator has a large and well-lit chart table beneath
two windows, out of which certain astronomical sights can
be taken. In the ordinary way these sights are, however,
taken through a special cupola which has been built in
the roof, and which, in the plan view photograph on the
opening page, can be seen at the centre section. The
navigator also has a telescopic drift sight and a panel
carrying the essential flying instruments.
The engineer is seated at a table with, before him, a large
panel carrying all the engine, temperature and mixture
indicators, with, on its right, the fuel controls with a quickly
read " p l a n " of their operation. The engine head and
base temperatures are read off for sixteen different points
from a single dial. Beside the engineer is one of the doors
leading into the wing itself, from the interior of which the.
engines may be reached for minor ajustments. When the
machine is on the water the engineers normally go out to
the engines in this way and out through doors which, when
open, become woAing platforms.
Ahead of, and below, the control cabin is the marine
compartment, with an anchor hatch and- a special door
which provides an outside platform for the member of the
crew who is picking up moorings. The lower part of the
hull is divided into ten passenger-carrying compartments,
and the machine is entered through a door beside the port
sponson. Incidentally, whatever the aerodynamic advantages
or disadvantages of the sponson, this does at least
provide a magnificent platform for loading and unloading.
This Boeing 314 is fitted with Goodrich de-icing equipment,
and the leading-edge shoes must be the largest to
be fitted to any machine in the world.
For the needs of long-distance oceanic work in particular,
the radio equipment is very complete indeed, including two
duplicate transmitters and receivers for W./T.—the latter
with D / F loop—as well as R / T transmitters and receivers
The frequency range covered is very wide, ranging from
330 kc/s to more than 12,000 kc/s ("for Atlantic services),
while the definite pre-set operating frequencies include those
for keeping contact with shipping. For the lower frequencies
trailing aerials, led out from the bows, are used,
but for the higher frequencies the considerable size of the
Boeing permits the satisfactory use of the fixed aerials. Two
dynamotors provide power for the transmitters, these being
fed from the main battery system, which is charged by the
engine-driven generators. When on the water a special
engine generator unit can be used, while, interestingly
enough, kites are carried for raising the aerials from the
surface in case of emergency.
During the eastward crossing the machine was being
flown only in reasonably good weather conditions, and the
need for a carefully organised combination of celestial
navigation, direction-finding and dead reckoning was probably
not apparent. As already explained, P.A.A. have
installed high-frequency Adcock D / F stations at Horta, in
the Azores and at Lisbon. These, with the short-wave
D/F stations which are already in existence at Ballygireen,
in Ireland, and in Newfoundland, provide the primary
means of navigational assistance, with checks from the
Boeing's own loop aerial and, more important, from the navigator's
sextant sights. In addition to the land installation
in the Azores, the company also has two sea-going
launches, with-full radio equipment, stationed at Horta.
Until further experience has been obtained it is not
possible to say by which route P.A.A. will eventually prefer
to cover their Atlantic services. With modern machines
and equipment—the 314 has a range of 4,275 miles—and
with an adequate navigating crew, it is practicable to fly
courses which will make the best of prevailing wind and
weather conditions. On the Pacific service, for instance,
the machines very rarely fly on the great circle course
between San Francisco and Hawaii, and it is normal practice
for the captain to take a route which may be from a
hundred to three hundred miles longer in order to take advantage
of favorable winds, or to avoid bad weather.
Imperial Airways and the Air Ministry have been working
out weather charts for the Atlantic during the past three
years,, and by now it should be possible to gauge the situation
with very fair accuracy.
At the moment P-A.A. apparently show a preference for the Azores route, at least in the winter, and it is always
possible that, in order to take advantage of wind conditions,
the service will be flown, when possible, via Newfoundland
and Ireland in the eastward direction and by the Azores
route in a westward direction. The thing to remember is
that full ground equipment is available for both routes—
with, in case of emergency or strong winds when using the
southern route, Bermuda as an auxiliary stopping point.
Contrary to general belief, however, the use of Bermuda
will only reduce the non-stop stage by a matter of three
The latest figures for the Boeing 314 (four 1,500 h.p. two row
Cyclone engines) are as follows: Span, 152ft.; length,
109ft. ; height, 28ft. 6in.; all-up weight (C.A.A. requirements),
82,500 l b . ; maximum fuel capacity, 4,200 gallons;
maximum speed, 190 m.p.h. ; cruising speed (economical
output), 150 m.p.h. ; normal maximum range, 4,275 miles;
and ceiling, 21,000ft. When used for oceanic services forty
passengers can be carried over the 4,000-mile range, while
seventy-four passengers can be carried on shorter runs.
Sixty passengers were actually carried on one trip last week
by the Atlantic Clipper, which is now being used on the
New York-Bermuda run.
Needless to say, even to-day it is not possible to obtain
something for nothing, and the price which is paid for the
tremendous loading and range figures of the Boeing is in
terms of take-off run. Time will tell whether it is better
to put up with a somewhat extended run and a not-too-good
initial r a t e of climb t h a n t o go to the extent and complication
of organizing a reliable air-fuelling system—which is
favored by our, Air Ministry Refueling at least enables
the modified "C" class boats to carry a total load with
which they would be unable to leave the water.
Although a great deal has been made of the supposed
fact that the Boeing is the largest machine ever to have
crossed the Atlantic, this is not strictly true, though it is
certainly the largest machine to make the crossing within
a reasonable length of time. In 1930-31 t h e Dornier Do.X
crossed by t h e South Atlantic route and back by the North
Atlantic, after many vicissitudes. The Do.X had a normal
all-up weight of 114,400 lb. against the Boeing's 82,500 lb.,
and a span of 157ft. 5m. against the Yankee Clipper's 152ft.
Following a previous attempt, which ended in trouble
off the coast of Florida, the big Latecoere 521 boat made
a two-way crossing last year. This machine, at least with
its original engines, had an all-up weight of 81,400 lb., and
has a span of 161ft. 8in.
The crew of the Yankee Clipper consists of Capt. Harold E.
Gray (commander), 1st Officer A. E. La Porte, 2nd Officer
A. E. Kalkowski, 3rd Officer J. W. Walker, 4t h Officer H.
Brock, 5th Officer L. C. Lindsey, chief engineer Officer C. D.
Wright, Fit. Mechanics D. R. Cornish and S. M. Kritser, radio
operators R. P. Dutton and A. W. Beideman and ship's clerk
W. Thaler. Also on board is Mr. H. Schildhauer, the Pan-
American operations manager for the Atlantic division, Mr.
Edmund Duff, representing the Boeing Company, Mr. A. E.
Gaylord, representing the Curtiss-Wright Company, Messrs.
B. M. Jacobs, E. L. Turavitch and R. C. Nichols, representing
the Civil Aeronautics Authority, and Messrs. L. I. Carr, I. E.
Hobbs and L. C. Chalker representing the U.S. Army and
Navy Air Services. Additionally, another P.A.A. representative,
Mr. R. E. Long, flew with the machine from Lisbon