Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This is the story of TWA Flight 1, a DC-2 that crashed on a mountain top near Uniontown, Pa. on April 7, 1936.
Its also the story of Miss Nellie Granger the Hostess on board the aircraft who was a member of TWA’s second class of air hostesses and her bravery and dedication to her crew and passengers.
Nellie Granger should never be forgotton.The first TWA Flight Attendant hero






New York April 7, A transcontinental Western Airliner, carrying 14 persons, crashed near Uniontown, Pa. killing eleven, according to advices received today by TWA main office.
The hostess of the plane, Miss N.H. Granger, telephoned the offices here from Uniontown, Pa. and reported the crash. She said that only she and two passengers survived.

She said she leaped from the wreckage, suffering principle from shock, and rushed to a nearby farmhouse for aid. After reporting the tragedy she raced back to the plane to give first aid to the two surviving passengers.
Among the passengers aboard the plane which left Newark, N.J. at 7:45 a.m. was Mrs. Meyer Ellenstein wife of the Mayor of Newark. Mrs. Ellenstein was enroute to St. Louis.
Another prominent passenger was D.D. August, an official of the Revel August Forge Co., of Grove City, Pa.
The plane known as “Flight No. 1” made its first scheduled stop at Camden N.J.. It was due at Pittsburg at 10:23 A.M. but was more than three hours over due when the hostess telephoned word of the crash. Earlier it was reported that the plane was having radio trouble and had passed up Pittsburg to continue to Columbus. It was due at Columbus at 11:46 A.M. but it was overdue to there even before the crash became known.
On the basis of the hostess report, Chief Pilot Otto Ferguson, and assistant pilot H.C. Lewis were killed.

PWA Worker Sees Crash

First indicators that the giant airliner, a bi motored Douglas had crashed came from a PWA worker who telephoned from the summit Hotel, near Uniontown, that he had seen a plane fall. He did not identify the plane.
Searching parties which started out from Pittsburg earlier were directed to hurry to the scene of the reported crash.
Simultaneously, John A. Collings TWA Eastern Division Superintendent, with headquarters in Columbus started from the Ohio terminus to direct searching parties.

TWA announced it had talked to the Uniontown Hospital and understood that the passengers who survived were a man and a woman.
Mrs. Ellenstein was the only woman on the passenger list. Another report stated that the hostess and a passenger were the only survivors.

Must Tote Injured 7 Miles

TWA said it had established contact with a person who resides near the scene of the crash. The resident said the injured would have to be packed 7 miles over mountain trails before a road could be reached despite the fact that the accident happened only four miles south of Uniontown.
One theory developed that the pilot got lost in the fog, had gotten on the wrong radio beams between Newark and Pittsburg.
Miss Granger went to the farmhouse of Mrs. Ray Adis.
“Miss Granger was badly hurt herself” Mrs. Adis said. “She had an awful bump on her head and said her clothes had been burned. She was wearing a mans overcoat and wouldn’t stay here a minute after she telephoned.”
“The man told her he would have an ambulance at Haydentown to meet the two injured passengers and take them to Uniontown Hospital.”
“Then Miss Granger left right away with Dale Weller, a neighbor in his car to go back to the plane for the two injured.”

APRIL 8, 1936





Uniontown ,Pa. April 8…The cause of the accident that sent the giant air liner, “Sun Racer”, crashing into a mountain side , killing nine passengers and two pilots, was disputed today by officials of the Transcontinental and Western Air, Inc, and by the Department of Commerce.
The crash of the ‘Sun Racer” brought Pennsylvania air fatalities for the first three days of this week to a total of 16.
Five U.S. Army fliers were killed Sunday night when their twin motored ship which was carrying them from Pottstown to Langley Virginia crashed and burned in the heavily timbered Blue Mountains near Fredericksburg, Pa. just west of Pine Grove.
Both pilots got off their courses and crashed into the sides of mountains. Apparently they both were trying to follow their radio beams because they were flying blind on account of hazardous atmospheric conditions.
There was no survivors of the army crash to give an inkling of what caused the crash.
Three investigations began while relatives claimed the bodies of the dead in a makeshift morgue in a local hospital.
The one survivor in condition to describe the last moments in the planes cabin before it crashed. Miss Nellie Granger, the ships stewardess and heroine of the tragedy was guarded in a local hospital by TWA officials and was not permitted to talk to anyone except employees of the company.
The other two survivors are in critical condition. Mrs. Ellenstein and Charles C. Challinor, of Cleveland.
The plane crashed because a radio beam operated by the department of commerce was not functioning properly, company officials said.
The radio beam was functiong perfectly Department of Commerce Officials said.
Four inspectors of the departments division of aeronautics set out today to inspect the wreckage in one of three investigations. TWA executives four of whom reached Uniontown yesterday afternoon a few hours after the plane crashed into a mountain at Fairchance, near here, undertook their own investigation. The third was undertaken by the special Air Safety Committee of the Senate.
Mrs. Ellenstein was near death, she received a blood transfusion at Mt. Summit Hospital, She had suffered a compound fractures of both legs, deep facial cuts from which she lost a large quantity of blood. Her husband, who came here by plane was at her side.
Challinor’s condition was less alarming, though both his arms and one leg had been fractured. Physicians expect him to recover.
Miss Granger apparently suffered no injuries in the crash beyond shock, though she was badly scratched and bruised ad her ankles were sprained in her mad dash over six miles of rough mountain terrain to the nearest telephone, where she summoned aid.
Miss Grangers story was made available through statements issued by TWA officials in New York, and Chicago. J.B. Walker, TWA vice president in charge of operations made a public third version. Miss Granger herself was in a hospital room where she was still reported suffering from shock. No one was permitted to talk to her. Even her brother had difficulty gaining admittance.
From the companies resume of her story, it appeared that the pilots Otto and Ferguson flying blind in a thick fog, was unaware of his danger until a split second before the giant twin motored Douglas crashed into a mountain top shortly after 10 A.M. A little while previously Miss Granger had gone to the pilots cabin and asked Ferguson how soon he would land in Pittsburg. Ferguson replied. “In a few minutes”

Miss Granger told her passengers to adjust their straps (Air passengers are required to strap themselves to their seats when a plane is about to land) and went to the tail of the plane and sat down in her own seat. A minute or so later the plane crashed. She was thrown clear and recovered consciousness” Looking at the sky”.
Knitting known fragments together made it appear that pilot Ferguson actually believed he was coming into the Pittsburg Airport some forty miles north of the scene of the crash.
At approximately the same time he told Miss Granger he was going to land in “In a few minutes”, he said into his radio telephone.
“flying blind at 3,000 feet, Letting down to land at Pittsburg.”
This message was picked up at TWA ground stations at Newark and Pittsburg, was the last word from the plane. More than three hours later Miss Granger frantic voice coming over rural telephone lines to Pittsburg TWA headquarters, announced the tragedy . A slight girl just over five feet tall and weighing 101 pounds, she had demonstrated blind courage.

Miss Granger’s story tended to bear out the company’s charges that the radio beam had not been functioning properly deceiving the pilot into the belief that he was near the Pittsburg Airport.
The tiny girl still weeping and badly shaken today, displayed the stuff of which legends are made. TWA officials praised her emotionally saying the company had picked her from 200 applicants as of the character and courage befitting a plane stewardess.
Mrs. Ellenstein, Challinor and Miss Granger were taken into Uniontown by horse and wagon, the only conveyance capable of negotiating the roads. Rescue parties recovered 11 charred bodies from the plane later and they were brought here by the same means, where they were laid out in the basement of the hospital rented by TWA.
Relatives claimed the bodies today. Most tragic of those who came here on sad errands was Mrs. Stanly J. Boyersdorfer, wife of a department store executive. First reports said her husband had been injured. She came with her family physician and his business partner to discover Boyersdorfer had been confused with Challinor.



TWA’s heroine stewardess, Little Nellie Granger, height 5’2” weight 101 pounds whished most fervently today that she could stop weeping.
The involuntary reaction plus many bruises and scratches and the loss of her petticoat were her personal sufferings from the crash of her air liner yesterday in which she displayed enough courage for a person twice her size.
She could do nothing for the nine passengers and two pilots killed out right in the crash of the giant Douglas but had it not been for her the two passengers who came out alive might have been dead. She stumbled, falling at intervals over six miles of rough mountain terrain to summon aid and using her petticoat for bandages ministered to their hurts so efficiently that both may live.
Later today three newspapers were admitted to Miss Granger’s room for a brief interview. She said,” I just did all I could when informed that her deed and courage had won the admiration of the country

APRIL 9, 1936
Uniontown, Pa. April 9,…A steady rain delayed complete destruction of the wrecked TWA liner Sun Racer, today and investigators decided to make another check of the twisted airframe.
William Cunningham a State Aeronautical Inspector, wafted to apply a torch to the liner which crashed against a mountain side, killing eleven persons.
Officials decided to make the last minute check on the possibility some additional information might be disclosed to help them reach a conclusion about the cause of the crash.
They still hoped to determine whether the landing gear actually was up or down. After today’s hearings, investigators for the company and other agencies will hear testimony on the radio beam and other technical phases.
TWA official P.E. Richter stated” As a result of flight checks made yesterday there is no indication the Pittsburg radio beam is not functioning properly.
“We had our chief pilot, Harlen Hull, take a ship out with two Commerce Dept. Men over the Pittsburg Radio Range. From the flight, the day after the accident, the check showed the range was O.K.

April 11, 1936

As a reward Miss Granger has been promoted to Hostess of the lines crack plane from New York to California. She will be taken to New York and then sent to California by boat before resuming her position.



Secretary of Commerce Daniel C. Roper today made public the report of the Director of Air Commerce concerning the aircraft accident near Uniontown, Pennsylvania on April 7 1936. It is as follows:

To the Secretary of Commerce:

On April 7, 1936, at approximately 10:20 a.m., at a point about three miles southeast of Fairchance, Pennsylvania, an airplane of United States registry, owned and operated by Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc., and while being flown in scheduled interstate operation carrying passengers, mail and express, met with an accident resulting in fatal injuries to 12 of the 14 persons on board, injuries to the remaining two persons and the complete destruction of the aircraft.

Those fatally injured were:

Donald D. August, Grove City, Pa.

George W. Heffermen, Bronx, N.Y.

S. W. Bayersdorfer, Steubenville, Ohio.

Crawford T. Kelly, McKeesport, Pa.

C. G. Chanllinor, Cleveland, Ohio.

John ONeill, Jersey City, N.J.

C. R. DArcy, New York, N.Y.

Charles H. Smith, New Kensington, Pa.

Robert Evans, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Pilot Otto Ferguson, Kansas City, Mo.

Frank Hardiman, Jersey city, N.J.

Co-Pilot Harry C. Lewis, Kansas City, Mo

Those injured were:

Mrs. M.C. Ellenstein, Newark, N.J.

Hostess, Nellie H Granger, Dravosburg, Pa.

The aircraft, a Douglas, model DC-2, had been inspected and approved by the Bureau of Air Commerce on June 27, 1935, and bore Federal license number NC-13721. It was being operated on April 7, 1936, by Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc., as the Sun Racer, Flight No. 1, Newark, New Jersey, to Los Angeles, California.

The pilot, Otto Ferguson, held a Federal transport pilots license and a scheduled air transport rating. The report of his quarterly physical examination taken on March 14, 1936, showed he was in good condition at that time. He was assigned to the Newark-Kansas City Pilot division of TWA as being qualified and authorized to operate scheduled flights over this division, its alternate routes and extension area. The co-pilot, Harry C. Lewis, held a Federal transport pilots license and a scheduled air transport rating. His quarterly physical examination, taken on January 11, 1936, showed that he was in good condition. He was assigned to the Newark-Kansas City pilot division.

The airplane left Newark Airport at 7:54 a.m. and arrived at Central Airport, Camden, N.J., at 8:27 a.m. It was cleared from Camden on time at 8:35 a.m., and was scheduled to land at Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Airport at 10:23 a.m.

The mountains between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh were for the most part obscured by clouds which extended to a maximum altitude of about 15,000 feet, and there were rain, sleet and general icing conditions in this area. West of Buckstown, Pa., a southwesterly wind of a high velocity was reported blowing at 15,000 feet altitude and the effect of this wind was evident to a decreasing extent at lower altitude.

While these weather conditions were not considered hazardous for this type of aircraft operation, they did indicate that on part of the trip the flight would have to be made in or above the clouds, necessitating instrument flying. Therefore, the pilot was authorized by his company to go on instruments at his discretion. Evidence shows that the plane entered the overcast when in the vicinity of Harrisburg, and that Pilot Ferguson continued on instruments to an undetermined point within approximately the last 20 miles of the flight.

Before leaving Newark, Pilot Ferguson prepared a flight plan which showed he intended flying from Camden direct to Pittsburgh on a compass course, which is the procedure regularly followed except when weather conditions prevent flying by observation of landmarks. In this event, both the operating manual of TWA and the Department of Commerce Regulations Governing Scheduled Operation of Interstate Air Line Services require that the course must be altered so that the plane follows the right hand side of the Harrisburg radio range and the right hand side of the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh radio range.

Radio reports from the plane and testimony of witnesses show that the course was not altered in accordance with these requirements and that after the plane crossed the south leg of the Harrisburg radio range, and entered the overcast, the pilot continued to follow what he thought was his original compass course but which developments show was a course deflected to the south of this compass course. (See Map.)

Proof that the plane was not following the west leg of the Harrisburg radio range is given in Pilot Fergusons radio report that he would cross the south leg of the Bellfonte, Pa., radio range at 9:21 a.m., south of the west leg of the Harrisburg radio range. This crossing was logged by the pilot at 9:30 a.m. and so reported to the TWA ground station at Cresson, Pa., at 9:3l a.m. This definitely places the plane somewhere south of Mount Union; Pa.

Then at 9:49 a.m., the pilot reported crossing the north leg of the Buckstown, Pa., radio range in the A twilight zone of the Pittsburgh radio range, which placed him somewhere south of the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh range. A change was made in the original 9:49 report as recorded by the TWA radio operator at Pittsburgh stating that the plane had crossed the north leg of the Buckstown range on the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh radio range.

At 9:50 a.m. employees of the Department of Commerce intermediate landing field at Buckstown, which is two miles west and one mile north of the Buckstown radio range, heard a multi-engined airplane flying slightly south of the field and in a westerly direction. The most experienced of these witnesses, who has been observing aircraft in that area for nearly seven years, gave sworn testimony that the plane was not of the type used by Pennsylvania I Air Lines and Central Air Lines, which operate between Pittsburgh and Washington and with which he declared himself to be familiar. This testimony satisfactorily establishes that the plane referred to by these witnesses was Flight 1, as all other aircraft known to have been in the air and in that area within the period concerned, have bean otherwise accounted for.

Further evidence to support the finding of the Bureau of Air Commerce, that the plane was not on the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh radio range, comes from the 10 oclock report from the pilot, in which he estimated, his position as over Chestnut Ridge. This report shows that he was still basing his position estimates on the direct Camden-Pittsburgh compass course and was not using the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh radio range as a course. Otherwise, if he had believed he were on, the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh range and had flown from the point where this leg crosses the north leg of the Buckstown range: to the point where it crosses Chestnut Ridge, only 15 miles in 11 minutes, he would have had to reduce his cruising speed from, about 160 miles per hour to about 82 miles per hour.

During this 11-minute interval, another TWA plane, Flight 21, bound nonstop from Newark to Pittsburgh and due to arrive there at about the same time as Flight 1, had, according to the pilots log, reported crossing the north leg of the Buckstown radio range on the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh radio range at 9:51 a.m., two minutes after Flight 1 had reported crossing the north leg of the Buckstown range. Flight 21 also was Douglas Model DC-2 and of the same general speed and performance as Flight 1. At 10 a.m., Flight 21 estimated its position as over Blairsville, Pa., at the same time that Flight 1 reported its estimated position as over Chestnut Ridge. From this, if it is to be inferred that the two planes were on the same range course, Flight 21 in a short distance had advanced beyond Flight 1 and was leading the latter by several minutes.

However, there is no record of a report from the pilot of Flight 1 that he had been forced to slow down or had voluntarily done so. It is therefore concluded that Flight 1 was not on the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh radio range during the interval in question.

Flight 21, which was flying on the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh radio range, reached the Pittsburgh air line terminal without difficulty.

At about the time Pilot Ferguson was reporting his estimated position as over Chestnut Ridge at 10 a.m., witnesses at Big Springs Summit, which is on Laurel Hill and is about 2 1/2 miles northwest of Bakersville Pa., observed a large, gray, two-engined airplane flying through the lower edge of the clouds, headed west. Big Springs Summit is 24 miles west of the Buckstown radio range and 16 miles south of the direct Camden-Pittsburgh compass course.

Then, at 10 09 a.m., Pilot Ferguson reported his estimated position as 10 miles east of Pittsburgh, but at 10:10 a.m. or one minute later, the airplane was heard and seen by witnesses in the vicinity of Connellsville, Pa., which is about 30 miles southeast of the Pittsburgh Airport. At approximately 10:20 a.m. the plane crashed at a point 12 miles east and 39 miles south of the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Airport, the air line terminal.

Further details of the flight from Camden to the scene of the accident follow:

After leaving Camden, and in accordance with operating procedure, Pilot Ferguson made his first position report by radio to his company station at 9:00 a.m., while flying two miles West of Lancaster, Pa. As be could see the ground, there is no reasonable question as to the accuracy of this particular position.

The pilots next report placed him as crossing the south leg of the Harrisburg radio range at 9:10 a.m. There is no reason to question the accuracy of this position. The usual flight path at this point when flying with the ground in sight, is approximately 7 miles south of the Harrisburg airport. In this vicinity, the pilot climbed into or above the clouds beyond the sight of ground, and flew by instruments, a normal


At this point cognizance is taken of the other TWA plane, Flight 21, piloted by R. N. Larson and bound non-stop from Newark to Pittsburgh. Because of a late start, it was due, to arrive at Pittsburgh at approximately the same tine as Flight 1. Whereas Pilot Ferguson crossed the south log of the Harrisburg radio range at 9:10 a.m. Pilot Larson reported that he crossed the north leg of that radio beam at 9:12. This places the two planes running at about 2 minutes apart and because they were converging on Pittsburgh with both flying in or above the clouds, the pilots established radio communication between themselves and agreed that Pilot Larson would fly at 5,000 feet and Pilot Ferguson at 4,500, to preclude any possibility of a collision as their respective courses came closer together.

The next report from Flight 1, at 9:2l a.m., was that the plane would cross the south leg of the Bellofonte Pa., radio range, south: of the west leg of the Harrisburg radio range. The crossing was logged by, the pilot at 9:30 a.m., and so reported to the TWA ground station at Cresson, Pa., at 9:31 a.m. This message definitely showed that Pilot Ferguson, navigating entirely by instruments, was flying a direct compass course and was not using the west leg of the Harrisburg radio range as a course as is required under these circumstances. It places the pilots intended course as somewhere south of Mount Union, Pa. Flight 21 reported crossing the south leg of the Bellefente radio range at 9:31 a.m. a minute later. There is no occasion to doubt the accuracy of these reports.

At 9 49 a.m., Pilot Ferguson radioed that he had crossed the north leg of the Buckstown radio range. This message was typed by the TWA radio operator at Pittsburgh as follows: N LEG BK 49 AT 4900 IN A TWILIGHT PG - - (North leg of Buckstown range at 9:49 a.m. at altitude of 4900 feet in a twilight zone of the Pittsburgh radio range. The phrase in A twilight zone, in this report, means somewhere south of the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh radio range.) A portion of this message was x-ed cut by typewriter by the TWA radio operator at Pittsburgh and the message changed to read: N LEG.BK 49 AT 4500 ON E LEG PG NEW RANGE - - (North leg Buckstown range at 9:49 a.m. at 4500 feet on the east leg of the Pittsburgh new radio range. In this report seat leg means northeast leg.)

This correction, which materially changed the originally recorded position of the airplane, may have been the result of the TWA radio operator at Pittsburgh confusing a call at 9:51 a.m. from Pilot Larson of Flight 21, who reported crossing the north leg of the Buckstown radio range on the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh radio range. The Bureau of Air Commerce believes that the originally recorded position report from Flight 1 is as Pilot Ferguson communicated it. Also, the originally recorded message more accurately defines the position at which the pilot expected to be, according to his flight plan and previous position reports. There was no record of Flight 21s 9:51 position report at the Pittsburgh TWA ground station, although there is a record in Flight 21s log that such a report was made Pilot Larson so testified at the public inquiry.

As previously stated, at 10:00 a.m., Pilot Ferguson estimated his position as over Chestnut Ridge at an altitude of 3800 feet, and so reported. At the same time, Flight 21 reported its estimated position as over Blairsville at an altitude of 4500 feet.

The last radio report from Flight 1 of record was at 10:09 a.m., and was to the airport control tower at Pittsburgh. The pilot gave, his estimated position as 10 miles east of Pittsburgh his altitude as 3,000 feet, and on instruments. At this time Pilot Ferguson asked for positions of other airplanes and for clearance to land. The requested information and clearance to land were given, and in acknowledging its receipt, the pilot told the control tower, You are very weak. Nothing more was heard from the plane until about l:55 p.m., when the air hostess, Miss Granger, telephoned the Pittsburgh office of TWA that the plane had met with an accident at a point near Fairchance.

Meanwhile, Flight 21 appeared over the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Airport on instruments at approximately 10:23 and landed at 10:30 a.m. The airport ceiling it this time and during the previous half hour was 1700 feet.

Detailed evidence as to the course actually flown according to testimony of witnesses, follows:

The first reports from witnesses on the ground tending to show that Flight I was not on the radio range courses marked by the Harrisburg and Pittsburgh stations (which already has been shown by the planes position reports) or even on the compass course which the pilot intended to fly, came from witnesses at the Buckstown Department of Commerce intermediate landing field. Their testimony already has been referred to in the forepart of this report.

At a time given as between 10 and 10:30 a.m., witnesses at Big Springs Summit saw what is believed to have been Flight 1 flying west through the lower edge of the clouds The altitude of Big Springs Summit is 2900 feet. Subsequent events indicate that the plane passed over Big Springs Summit at approximately 10:00 a.m., at which time Pilot Ferguson was reporting his estimated position as over Chestnut Ridge at 3800 feet. The path of flight, based on the Buckstown and Big Springs Summit observations, shows a consistent compass bearing from the point where the flight went on instruments, which was in the vicinity of Harrisburg. This flight path deviates approximately 8 degrees south of the course indicated on the pilots flight plan.

The airplane was again heard and seen by witnesses in the vicinity of Connellsville, which is about 30 miles southeast of the Pittsburgh airport, at approximately 10:10 a.m. (At 10:09 the pilot had reported his estimated position as 10 miles east of Pittsburgh.) Its flight path at this point was southwesterly, passing about 2 1/2 miles due east of Connellsville, at a low altitude. The ground elevation there is approximately 1900 feet.

It is also apparent from the evidence obtained near Connellsville, that the pilot had descended a considerable amount, which is confirmed by his radio reports, the last one of which placed his altitude (above see level) as 3,000 feet, and that he may then have been trying to identify landmarks in this vicinity instead of flying solely by instruments.

Testimony of witnesses throughout the remainder of the flight shows definitely that the airplane continued, in a general southerly direction, passed to the east of the Summit Hotel (on Chestnut Ridge near Uniontown, Pa.), to a point about two miles northwest of Elliotsville Pa., and headed westerly up a small valley in the general direction of Fairchance. Throughout this portion of the flight the airplane was flying just over the tree tops and the pilot was obviously trying to keep the ground in view while veering to avoid higher hills. A light freezing rain was falling at the time and low clouds end fog obscured the tops of the surrounding mountains.

At the point where the airplane turned west up the small vallely, its altitude was estimated by witnesses, as approximately 100 feet above the ground, and at that height it could only be seen intermittently. This valley is a ravine on the southeast side of Chestnut Ridge which curves toward the north and ascends as it approaches the summit. Apparently at the end of the ravine the pilot was suddenly confronted with the ridge directly ahead, the top of which evidently he could not see, due to fog and clouds. A check of this terrain relative to the altitude at which the airplane was seen to be flying just previously shows that, to clear the ridge, the plane would need to, climb 650 feet in approximately three-quarters of a mile.

This climb, turning to the right with the ravine, took the airplane into the low-hanging clouds, thus further obscuring the pilots vision. At a point approximately on top of the ridge the airplane, still turning to the right, struck a series of trees and Came to a stop about 1200 feet beyond the first tree hit.

The evidence indicates that there was no malfunctioning of the aircraft, engines or equipment. While general icing conditions were present, the plane was equipped with devices to remove ice formations from the wings, tail and propellers, and there is no evidence that ice affected its flying characteristics. Further, there was sufficient fuel aboard for more than two, hours flying at the time of the impact and there is no evidence that the pilot was attempting a landing.

With respect to the radio aids of air navigation which the Bureau of Air Commerce operates for the assistance of all airmen:

The two Pittsburgh radio ranges were flight checked by a Bureau of Air Commerce radio test pilot on March 29 and the characteristics common to these radio ranges located in mountainous country, were published by the Bureau in a Notice to Airmen dated April 1, six days before the accident, and made available to all air lines operating through Pittsburgh, including TWA. Further there is evidence that TWA pilots on this run are and have long been familiar with these general characteristics.

However, all pilots known to have been flight in the vicinity of Pittsburgh on the morning of the accident and using the radio ranges at, or about the same time Pilot Ferguson was in the air, gave sworn testimony at the formal Department of Commerce hearing at Pittsburgh, as follows:

Pilot Larson, of TWA Flight 21, who was using the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh radio beam on his flight from Newark to Pittsburgh, and was due to land at Pittsburgh about the same time as Flight 1:

My beam reception from Buckstown in was o.k. I had no trouble.

Pilot R.S Leroy, of the Pennsylvania State Division of Aeronautics, left Pittsburgh at 9 a.m. for Harrisburg and flew out on the northeast leg. Because of icing conditions, and no special do-icing equipment on his airplane, he returned to the airport after being out about 20 minutes. In this flight he used the right hand side of the beam going out and the right hand side coming back and reported no difficulty.

Pilot Horace Starke, of Central Air Lines, flew into Pittsburgh on the northwest leg of the Pittsburgh radio range from Akron, Ohio, and landed at 9:37 a.m. He reported the range very good. When he landed, Pilot Ferguson was then somewhere between the south leg of the Bellefonte and the north leg of the Buckstown radio ranges.

Pilot Harry L. Smith of Pennsylvania Air Lines left Cleveland at 8 32 a.m. and arrived at Pittsburgh at 9:27, using the northwest leg of the Pittsburgh radio range. He departed for Washington at 9:44 a.m. and followed the southeast leg of the beam until 10:38 a m. - - a period during which the accident occurred. He testified; Our radio been reception was satisfactory all the way. He crossed the south leg of the Buckstown range at 10:19 and arrived in Washington at 11:15 a.m.

Pilot John H. Neale, senior pilot of Pennsylvania Air Lines, left Washington at 8:35 a.m., and testified he flew the southeast leg of the radio range into Pittsburgh on top of the clouds and: arrived over the Pittsburgh airport at 10:00 a.m. He said he used the southeast leg for guidance and I didnt notice any unusual characteristics. Because of icing conditions beneath he decided to proceed to Cleveland where he landed 15 minutes overdue, which I attribute to winds, he said. He testified he crossed the Buckstown range at 9:27 a.m. above the clouds.

Pilot Otis F Bryen, of TWA, chief pilot of the companys eastern division, and riding as co-pilot on Flight 6 from Columbus, Ohio, arrived at a point 16 miles southwest of Pittsburgh at 10:20 a.m. and after waiting for clearance, landed at 10:41 a.m. Pilot Bryan testified he found a dead spot in the beam about 8 or 10 miles southwest of the airport. (There is no evidence that Pilot Ferguson at any time was west or southwest of the Pittsburgh airport or radio range stations.)

Pilot E W. Day, of Central Air Lines, testified he left Washington at 9:10 a.m. and shortly thereafter he picked up the Pittsburgh beam. He crossed the Buckstown beam on instruments between 7,000 and 10,000 feet at 10:03 a.m., and because of heavy icing conditions at his present and lower altitudes, he endeavored to reach the top of the clouds which were more than 16,000 feet. In this endeavor, he encountered strong winds from the southwest, was blown to the northeast and eventually landed at Erie, Pa., at 1:10 p.m. Because of his efforts to get away from the ice and to surmount the high cloud banks, he said he used the Pittsburgh beam very little.

The foregoing testimony accounts for all four legs of the Pittsburgh radio range while Pilot Ferguson was in the air. Also, in all cases the airmen testified they were tuned to the new station, although the older one was in operation at the same time and was available at their option on another frequency.

The bureau of Air Commerce monitoring stations at Cambridge and Cleveland, Ohio, reported no swinging of the Pittsburgh radio range courses during the period Flight 1 was in the air.

An analysis of the evidence obtained by the Bureau of Air Commerce, both at the scene of the accident and at public hearings conducted at Uniontown and Pittsburgh, makes it apparent that the pilot, following a straight compass course out of Camden for Pittsburgh, continued this compass course after it became necessary for him to resort to instrument flying in the vicinity of Harrisburg, and that he did not proceed to and follow the course marked by the west leg of the Harrisburg radio range and the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh range. There is no evidence placing the plane on these radio courses either by witnesses or by a radio report from the plane announcing a change in the flight plan.

It is further apparent that from Harrisburg west, the pilots correction for cross-wind drift was in error because the actual course he flew was approximately 8 degrees to the south of the intended course and the one he believed he was following. The south and north logs of the Bellefonte and Buckstown radio ranges respectively, which crossed his course at approximately right angles, would give the pilot checks on the westerly progress of the flight only, and were used by him for this purpose. However, they would not be expected to disclose a small amount of drift to the north or south. As a result of this deviation from the intended course, the airplane, according to witnesses, passed south of the Buckstown field at a point approximately 15 miles south of the intended course and apparently without the pilots being aware of this discrepancy.

After the Buckstown crossing Pilot Ferguson continued the same course he had been flying which actually was south of the route he thought he was following. Consequently, he crossed the southeast leg of the Pittsburgh radio range at a point about 35 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. A few moments later he altered his course to the southward, obviously thinking that he had just crossed the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh radio range. This change of course to the southward, indicates conclusively that Pilot Ferguson believed he had crossed the northeast leg instead of the southeast leg. To determine which of the two legs he had crossed, it Was necessary for him to make some kind of a turn, since the signals in crossing either leg from the A zone to an N zone are Or Course (represented by long dash) and N (dash dot). If there had been any reason for the pilot to assume he had just crossed the southeast leg, the turn which ho normally would have made to check his position would have been naturally to the right or northward after crossing the leg, since this direction would bring him back onto the southeast leg.

After a few minutes flying in a southerly direction and at approximately 10:09 a.m., he reported his position as 10 miles east of the air terminal at Pittsburgh, a natural conclusion since he believed he had crossed the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh range and was still, basing his calculations on ground speeds made between previous check points.

However, as the time of the crash is fixed at approximately 10:20 a.m., the airplane could not have flown from the reported position 10 miles east of the Pittsburgh air terminal to the point of the accident - a distance of about 45 miles, at an altitude of 3,000 feet or lower where no helping winds existed, and over the route reported by witnesses - in 11 minutes, as this would have required a speed substantially in excess of the maximum attainable speed of the airplane.

Therefore, the conclusion of the Bureau of Air Commerce is that the airplane was much further south and east of the position Pilot Ferguson reported at 10:09 a.m., and that he never reached the position he had calculated. This is supported by the fact that the: pilot reported the signal strength of the Pittsburgh radio control tower as weak, which would be expected at a point as far away as Connellsville ( where the plane was seen and heard at 10:10 a.m.), nearly at the limit of the transmitting range of the Pittsburgh airport radio control tower.

When Pilot Ferguson discovered he was off his course, either by visual observations or signals from the radio range which told him definitely that he was in the N zone south of Pittsburgh instead of the N zone north of the airport as he may initially have assumed, the airplane was flying at a low altitude, following the main valley along the east side of Chestnut Ridge. He evidently concluded to continue at a low elevation and keep the ground in sight, until he could determine his exact location or find an opportunity to head west out of the mountains and into better weather conditions. This latter procedure brought him into the ravine with fatal results.


It is the opinion of the Bureau of Air Commerce that the probable cause of this accident was poor judgement on the part of Pilot Ferguson for flying by visual ground observation methods after having descended through the clouds and overcast in mountainous terrain at a point unknown to him. Because of clouds and poor visibility this, required flying close to the ground whereas the safest method under such circumstances is to climb into or above the overcast to a safe altitude and determine the location of the plane by instruments and radio.

Contributory causes to this accident were:


Failure of the pilot to identify accurately his position with respect to the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Airport before descending through the overcast in preparation for his scheduled landing.


Failure of the Pilot to proceed to and follow the right hand side of the west leg of the Harrisburg radio range course when it first became necessary for him to resort to instrument flying in the vicinity of Harrisburg due to weather conditions and failure to complete his flight on the right hand side of the northeast leg of the Pittsburgh radio range, as provided for by both Department of Commerce and TWA regulations.

Respectfully submitted

Eugene I. Vidal

Director of Air Commerce

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
April 11.

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
ship's clerk.

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
wireless equipment.

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.

Ancillary Equipment

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
hundred miles.

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
to Southampton.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Restored Eastern Airlines DC-7B

For every body interested in old props take a look at this web site. When I saw this beautiful aircraft I couldn't believe it. What a beauty

The Aircraft
The first aircraft in their collection is a DC-7B (N836D) serial number

The Historical Flight Foundation is a Living History Museum.
Dedicated to promoting an awareness and appreciation for aviation history.
Tools include educating and training young people in the maintenance and piloting of these historically significant aircraft and; building awareness through public events around the world.

Here is the web site to check out this aircraft.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I never put anything on this blog about my time spent in Vietnam but here are some memories from a long time ago. I took all these photos. Except the first one shown. If you want to learn more about the caribou check out our organization The C7a Caribou Organization and learn about the missions the Bou flew.


I was an Aircraft Electrician in the 483rd CMS Squadron from November 1970 to November 1971. I worked at Cam Ranh, Bien Hoa, and Can Tho. I spent a lot of time at Bien Hoa and did a lot of field trips to repair broken aircraft. Some of the photos, below, are from one of the more memorable of those field trips. I also did a lot of morning launches, riding around in the maintenance launch truck, helping to blow out mags and get engines started.

Working on the Caribou was a great job, and the guys I worked with in country were the best. Some of the places the caribou flew were really isolated and doing any type of field maintenance in the field was challenging at the best. But we always seemed to get the work done. I can really say we jury rigged a lot of stuff just to get the aircraft back to base. I remember working on a starter problem at a place called Song Be, up along the Cambodian border. There was no maintenance stands to work with, so I used a 55 gallon drum to stand on. It was a weird problem as the starter lead was just not making contact with terminal stud. An infantry officer came over to me and was asking in a round about way of how long was it going to take me to fix the aircraft and get this “MORTAR MAGNET OFF HIS BASE”. Well as dark was approaching my incentive to get the aircraft fixed was doubled. Anyway I fixed it by squeezing the terminal lug with some water pump pliers. Power got to the starter the engines started and me the two pilots and an engineer were happy and flew back to Bien Hoa. And so was the grunt officer!

KA147 (62-4147) on the runway at Chang Mai, Thailand without use of the landing gear. The scuttle buck was that the overhead hatch blew open during the takeoff and the pilot set the aircraft back down on the long runway, forgetting that he had already retracted the gear. Summer 1971. Some of our missions was to fly to different diplomatic spots in Thailand. Chang Mai is in Northwest Thailand, a very beautiful place.The only other aircraft Isaw there were Air America Pilatus Porters.

Its good the Bou had a flat underbelly. There really wasn't much sheet metal damage.

The major damage was done to the engines and the props as can be seen here..Sudden stoppage of the engine is not good. Actually some the prop was sent through the fuselage.

We worked all day getting the aircraft back on its gear. As can be seen we used air bags and jacks. We had to tie and strap the props on so they wouldn't fall off. The nose box on the engine was completly wrecked. Once the aircraft was up on its gear we towed it to the ramp and worked on it for a couple of days changing both engines and doing some sheet metal work. We then flew it back to Bangkok and then on to Cam Ranh Bay were it was checked over. This was a gravy job as it was out of Vietnam and in Thailand, so we tried as hard as we could to extend this TDY trip. It was the best trip I had in Southeast Asia.

All day long we had a bunch of Thai kids and workers watching us get the aircraft off the runway

This is our Operations shack at Bien Hoa, Vietnam. The black tar spots are holes from a 122mm rocket that hit in front of the shack about an hour before the guys would arrive. At Bien Hoa we took a lot of Rocket and mortar attacks.

One of the Bunkers at Bien Hoa on the east side of the base.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Found this great article on the DC-7 from 1954

Douglas DC-7

Flight Magazine July 30, 1954

UNTIL recently, when the appearance of Britain's turboprop and turbojet airliners began to alter the picture,the world's main source of transport aircraft was firmlyestablished in the United States. And, in the U.S.A., it was to the Douglas Aircraft Company that a great many airlines went for their machines, since the introduction in 1933 of the DC-2, most significant aircraft of its time.

Following the success of the K.L.M. DC-2 which, carrying a full load of passengers, came second only to the first D.H. Comet in theEngland-Australia Race of 1934, the interest of many of the world's operators was focussed for the first time on this Douglas product, which was already laying the foundations for a long record of reliability, versatility, and relative economy for domestic airlines in the .U.S. The subsequent success story of the DC-3 (some 1,500 of which are estimated to be still in use at present)is now well known, as is that of the four-engine DC-4 which followed it.

Successive processes of "stretching" through the DC-6, 6A and 6B have now resulted in the DC-7 which, with the same span as the DC-4, has a fuselage 15ft longer and a vastly improved performance. The appraisal which follows describes the main features of this aircraft and includes the first-hand impressions of the Editor when he recently flew in the machine and visitedthe Douglas factory at Santa Monica, California.Design.—The DC-7 is basically a development of the DC-6B, and a few details of this latter machine may be recalled withadvantage before the "Seven" is considered. The DC-6B, passenger version of the DC-6A, is well known as an efficient,conventional transport aircraft in the American manner. It is of semi-monocoque all-metal construction with flush-riveted skin and, powered by four Pratt and Whitney F-2800 Double Wasps, can carry between 54 and 92 passengers according to the type of service. The span is117ft 6in and length 105ft 7in. Normally the empty, take-off, and landing weights of the DC-6B are54,148 lb, 106,000 lb and 88,200 lb respectively; the improved Super Six" version of Pan American carries 82 passengers on transatlantic tourist-class operations and has been certificated for a gross take-off weight of 107,000 lb. Cruising speed is 307 22,400ft, normal range 3,860 miles (absolute range 4,910 miles), andwing loading 72.5 lb/sq ft.fhe main aims in the design of the DC-7 were to obtain a higher speed, increased range and a greater payload.

These were made possible largely through the adoption of Wright Turbo-Compound engines,^ very extensively developed and used by the Armed Services | before being made available for commercial use. The Turbo-Compound consists of a basic R-3350 18-cylinder two-row radial engine, with, the addition of a "power-recovery" unit between the power section and the supercharger section.

This comprises three blow-down turbines, each driven by the exhaust gases from six cylinders: power generated by the turbines (due to the exhaust gases passing through the turbine blades) is transmitted through a fluid |coupling to the main crankshaft, augmenting the engine's output by some 600 h.p.In general the introduction |f the new power plants has caused few snags, although some nozzle-box cracking and cooling-cap failure has been experienced. During the life of the engine, modifications have been incorporated, including re-designed nozzle-boxes, the armouring of the turbines, better cooling and other detail changes. The new engines gave the following increases in performance ompared with the Double Wasps of the DC-6B: maximum cruise power, from 1,200 to 1,800 b.h.p. per engine; maximum continuous power, 1,900 to 2,650 b.h.p.; and maximum take-off power, 2,500 to 3,250 b.h.p. per engine. To absorb the Turbo- compound's extra power, specially built Hamilton-Standard 4E60 four-bladed solid-dura! airscrews were used. An increase n their diameter over the 13ft 6in of those on the DC-6B would have raised the noise level within the passenger cabin, andso this dimension was retained. The aditional weight of the power plants was balanced by 14in extension in the constant-section portion of the fuselage aft of the wing rear spar (it may be recalled that the development f the DC-6A and DC-6B had been accompanied by an extra 0in in fuselage length forward of the wings). Extra room in the undercarriage bays was obtained by moving forward the firewalls f the inboard nacelles by 4in; although the tyres fitted to the early versions of the Seven are the same size as those on theDC-6B, the new bays are large enough to accommodate the bigger tyres of the heavier, trans-oceanic DC-7B. i might be expected, the larger, faster DC-7 is heavier, too, compared with its predecessor. All-up weight has increased from 107,000 to 122,200 lb and landing weight from 88,200to 95,000 lb. The fuel capacity remaim,.at 5,512 gallons, the same as that of the DC-6B, although for short-range operations 4,512 gallons only are carried.

The use of titanium for engine nacelles and firewalls is one of the new design features of the 'Seven. Not only do they give an improved strength/weight ratio (a saving of 260 lb over steel nacelles has been accomplished) but their manufacture has also provided valuable experience in the techniques of using titanium in relatively simple structures.

1T was, in fact, found possible to form the titanium components—which amount to 88 per cent of the aft nacelle of each engine, or a total of 350 lb per aircraft—with no more difficulty than those of stainless steel. Another interesting item is the ingenious carburetor air scoop shown diagrammatically on page 147, and intended to give a more precise control over intake air and consequently to minimize the danger of carburetor icing. The three sources of intake air are (1) through the conventional ram scoop; (2) through the auxiliary scoop; and (3) through the hot-air duct from the engine.

Under normal flight conditions, the conventional scoop is used. If mild icing is experienced the pilot cap switch to the rear auxiliary scoop, which is designed to prevent moisture or ice particles from entering the carburetor air duct. In the event of severe icing, some hot air from the engine is admitted to raise the carburetor air temperature. Intake air may be selected to flow through any one channel or through any combination of hot and auxiliary channels, as required. As this design permits maximum intake of air with minimum of engine pre-heating, there is a resultant saving in power. Cabin cooling on the Seven is obtained with both an engine driven air-cycle unit and an electrically operated system using Freon gas. The Douglas company states that the two systems together produce the equivalent of "12 tons of refrigeration"— and goes on to explain that one ton of refrigeration is
that produced by one ton of ice melting in 24 hours. The Freon unit can be run from the ground power trolley when the aircraft is on the ground, and is by itself quite adequate for cooling the cabin in this condition. In flight, either unit or both can be switched on by the pilot. The problem of cabin noise, especially important in any long range airliner, has been tackled constructively by the makers of the DC-7. An increase in cabin wall rigidity, which helps to cut down noise, has been obtained by halving the spacing of the fuselage frames for 185in forward of the wing leading edge, and in a short section near the tail, from 20in to l0in. Three of the fuselage frames are of steel, instead of aluminium alloy, increasing the stiffness further. Improved sound insulation between the outer skin and inner wall panels has also been provided, and a third glass pane mounted between the double panes of the cabin windows in those sections where noise is greatest. A third door has been incorporated in the fuselage, on the starboard side at the rear, just in front of the pressure dome, useful not only for ground maintenance but—in an aircraft whose tourists versions may carry 98 passengers—as an extra emergency exit. A development inspired directly by the operational need to increase rates of descent in order to improve block-speeds is the use on the DC-7 of the main undercarriage gear as an air brake. The undercarriage equipment is designed to be satisfactorily lowered at air speeds up to 410 m.p.h. at 20,000ft and, as the undercarriage-plus-door combination gives approximately the same drag as the entire fuselage and wings, descents at up to
4,000ft/min (with power on) are possible. A close approach at cruising altitude to the airport is therefore permitted, with consequent reduction in landing time; and the brake is available to slow the aircraft down on encountering turbulent conditions. The pilot's air-brake control, separate from the normal undercarriage- lowering mechanism, consists of a single lever which releases the main wheels which then drop into the locked position under gravity. A conventional hydraulic system is used either to lower both nose and main wheels simultaneously, or to lower the nosewheel after the main wheels have been dropped into the locked position as an air-brake. Cockpit warning signals, a senior Douglas engineer has emphasized, operate in the conventionalmanner and are not affected by dropping of the main wheels for braking effect. It is a fact, also, that the main undercarriage control lever over-rides the speed-brake control at all times.

Of interest to ex-DC-6B pilots who may transfer to the Seven is that a conscious effort has been made to keep the two cockpit layouts as similar as possible. A few improvements have been made, however, including an increase of aileron sensitivity; 90 deg movement of the control wheel instead of 135 deg nowbeing required for full control movement. The DC-7 retains basically the same wing, fuselage (except for length) and tail design as on the DC-6B. Among the detail modifications to the wing are the adoption of larger front-spar and centre-spar caps; the re-design of the nacelles (made necessary by the increased thrust, torque and weight of the new
power plants); and, on later machines, the amended front spar undercarriage fitting mentioned earlier.
Control surfaces have in general followed DC-6B design with, however, an all-round strengthening of the surfaces to cope with the greater weights and speeds of the DC-7. The rudder tab has been enlarged by approximately 50 per cent and the rudder control system has been revised to require smaller pilot-forces and to give more effective rudder control. A mechanically controlled trim tub has been added to the port aileron to provide a finer adjustment for lateral trim, and the ground-adjustable aileron tab has been doubled in length. Passenger-appeal.—A representative DC-7 layout fuselage has three compartments seating 8, 42 and 14 passengers. This 64-seat luxury layout has, in addition, a five-seat rear lounge, and the 8-seat forward compartment may be utilized as freight space ,increasing the total cargo volume from 707 to 1,145 cu ft. Coach class versions can carry up to 95 passengers. During the Editor's recent visit to the United States he was able to visit the Douglas factory at Santa Monica and to fly in an American Airlines DC-7
from Chicago to Los Angeles. He has recorded the following impressions.

The DC-7 in Service

QUITE a number of DC-7s are now operating across the United States, but they are still sufficiently special to receive extra publicity and attention. The services they fly are very much the mainline flagship type and, because the public cannot readily spot a Seven among the many Sixes, the number is usually painted very large on the tail. The husky-voiced girls announcing flights, too, usually seem to manage a special purr for a Seven departure or arrival. I spent an interesting day studying the activities at Chicago,America's busiest airport, which often has to handle a movement a minute, and it was no hardship that American Airlines' Flight 55 was called late, owing to weather and other difficulties at Detroit. We passengers climbed aboard at 6.30 in the evening forty-six of us in this 54/60-seat luxury airliner—and prepared for a 6i-hr non-stop flight to Los Angeles. The DC-7s are, of course, built at the Douglas Santa Monica plant, within a mile or two of the terminal. With the help of some ingenious jigging, DC-6s and DC-7s come down the same production line and have been doing so until the grand total has now reached over 500. American Airlines, enthusiastic operators of the earlier DC-6s, feel that they had some influence on the design of the DC-7s (they have had a long association with the company while operating 3s and 4s as well) and they were the first to place an order for 25 of them cash down. All should now have been delivered.

The seating figure of 54/60 quoted above indicates that 54 seats are usually offered on this service, but the seats in the lounge can also be sold when necessary.

Once installed in the spacious cabins of the DC-7 we had very little time to wait before the engines were started. They came to life smoothly and quietly and the air conditioning could be sensed at once. The foam-rubber seats were comfortable and easy to adjust, but even more between-seat elbow room would have been welcome. The foot room is adequate and rubber-bar rests are provided. During the pre-flight check period I noted the attractive cabin decoration. The colour scheme is blue and goldy-fawn; leather trimming is used, and there are red carpets.

Seven minutes after starting-up and after a taxi of only a few hundred yards, the take-off run was started. Directly into a strong wind, the Seven was off quickly and reasonably quietly

The nose came well up to unstick, as the passengers could tell, and the climb was a little steeper than average. Once settled on the climb the captain broadcast a quite long speech of welcome and a description of the flight ahead. He explained the unusual exhaust flames, mentioned the gear* change, and finished up with a word or two about the weather report. All this (from public-address speakers in the roof) was audible to most of the passengers in spite of the engines being at climb power. So long as we climbed and cloud was to be seen the "fasten seat-belts" signs were kept on. We appeared to level out for a short time at about 6,000ft and then climbed on to 14,000ft. An occasional shudder was felt as we flew through cloud tops, but otherwise all was calm. The colours from the last sun were quite magnificent—red-tinted tops ahead and a huge amber floodlight to the rear. The exhaust turbines threw out an attractive blue-to-purple plume that showed brightly in the half-light. . The wing looked very large through the square window and sometimes it could be seen gently flexing. Small white spotlights shone from the fuselage on to the outer nacelles.

American towns look extremely colourful from the air at night. This is partly due to the clear atmosphere, but mainly it is because more and brighter red and green all-night neon signs are used than in other countries.

Because the front row or two of seats between the engines are in a rather noisy area, even more soundproofing has been added and the noise level is now acceptable. There is no comparison with turboprop types but the Seven is as good as, or better than, anything else in its class. Centrally there is very little noise or vibration; well aft, air noises and some buzzing type of vibration can again be felt.

The highest point of our flight was in the region of Denver, when we reached nearly 20,000ft. Later a long let-down brought us over Los Angeles in position for the straight-in approach and landing practiced widely in America. This seems to be a big improvement on the tortuous cross-country often needed to get into London Airport. The actual time in the air was only 5 hr 45 min and the cruising speed was 310 m.p.h.

Formalities on landing after 5f hr in the air (and two hours back on the clock in changing from Central Time, through Mountain to Pacific Standard, were negligible. The luggage was quickly produced, but the walk from aircraft to terminal was long and the wait for the hourly bus even longer. I thought about the alternative $4 taxi to the hotel, and decided that the London coach system was perhaps better as well as cheaper, though the American coaches or limousines do call at hotels instead of at a city terminal, and this is more convenient for most long-distance passengers—particularly for early morning departures. It is not surprising that so many Americans travel by air. The internal services are usually quick and efficiently run and the fares are, as a percentage of average salaries, relatively cheap—though tips to porters add up to a substantial figure. This long non-stop DC-7 service—and there are similar ones coast-to coast—was both luxurious and rapid. For an American, it costs the equivalent of about £15 if one converts from dollars and allows for the triple-salary figure with a cost of living very much higher than in this country. Main factors in the operational and economic performance of the DC-7 are indicated in the diagrams and tables above and below on this page. The machine's performance over typical routes (from 600 to 3,000 mile stage-lengths) shows favourable block-times, at least when compared with those of other piston engine types, and low unit costs. The Seven is certainly an efficient all-round airliner in the long-range category, and will only be surpassed in speed and economy during the next few years by machines such as the Comet 3, Boeing 707 and Britannia. The DC-7 was introduced into commercial service in the U.S.A. by American Airlines on November 29th last, since when it has broken a number of inter-city transport records on the American continent. Following American's order for 25 machines came further orders for DC-7s and 7Bs from United Air Lines (25), Eastern (12), Delta C and S (10), Panagra (5), National (4),and Pan American (7).

The DC-7B.—

Aerodynamic flight-testing of the DC-7B, long range "intercontinental" version of the Seven, has recently been taking place over the Californian desert, and final C.A.A. certification tests are to begin in September. The most significant change is the use of a new flap-linkage system together with a re-positioning of the flap itself to give improved airflow characteristics. Another development is the provision of extra fuel capacity by the addition of "saddle" tanks forming part of the enlarged engine nacelles, and the optional increased capacity of the centre-wing trailing-edge tanks.

The resultant total fuel capacity of the DC-7B is 6,400 gall, and the gross weight of the new aircraft has been increased from 122,200 lb to 125,000 lb. Its engines are the DA4 versions of the Turbo-Compound, which give a power increase over the earlier DA2s of 100 h.p. under all conditions except take-off. Alternative cabin layout will cater for 40 passengers in the luxury version, or up to 95 for tourist services.

Using a 52-seat layout, and allowing for cargo, baggage and mail, the DC-7B (it is reported) will be able to fly 4,000 miles non-stop, with a fuel reserve of almost 1,000 gall. Non-stop London-New York services are a possibility.

Conclusion—From the DC-2 to the DC-7, the 20-year record which Donald Douglas can look back on, is unique in the

air-transport business. The Seven, like its forerunners, should continue to transport passengers regularly, efficiently—and profitably—for its operators during a good number of years to come.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

How the Airlines Communicated in the 1950's

Listed below are pages from an Eastern Airlines Operations Manual from the 1950's on communication methods.