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Author Topic: Where are we now, 1953?  (Read 7263 times)

Jeff Victor Hayden

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Where are we now, 1953?
« on: December 14, 2013, 05:40:17 PM »

A very interesting tale from the South Pacific, circa 1953?
Stratocruiser on route from Nadi (Fiji) to Canton Island (phoenix Islands)

"THE PANAM EPISODE
 An unnamed Airline Stratocruiser of the then most experienced airline, departed Nadi (Fiji) for Canton Is. about Midnight Western Samoa time. Not being involved we would not be advised of this movement. At about 4 am I heard him calling Canton.
 Aircraft - Boy are your lights on? we don’t hear your NDB.
 Canton - Our lights are on, NDB monitor says operation normal.
 Aircraft - We must have a stronger headwind than predicted. looks like we may be a little late.
 Aircraft - 10 minutes later - Don’t see your lights, don’t hear your NDB.
 Canton - We have had technicians check NDB physically, lights are all on.
 All services operational.
 Aircraft- I think we must have overshot, turning 180 and backtracking.
 Canton - Ok.
 Aircraft- 30 mins later - still no sign of your 1ights or your NDB. Now feel our original ETA might have been right - turning 180 and back to original
 course. Request upper winds and new terminal forecasts.
 Canton - Supplies data as requested.
 Aircraft - 30 mins later - still haven’t sighted a light , no sign of your NDB, think we are lost.
 Canton - Acknowledges.
 Faleolo - Your signal is very strong on this frequency, suggest you scan the
 NDB band and see if any signals can be heard there.
 Aircraft - Hearing Strong NDB signal, says FA.
 Faleolo - That’s our NDB at Faleolo in Western Samoa.
 Aircraft - Getting a fairly stable heading on our ADF.
 Faleolo - Ok what would be the course from your present estimated position to this station.
 Aircraft - About 230 degrees.
 Faleolo - Canton you copy that?
 Canton - Affirmative , we are trying to sort out what has gone wrong , Hawaii to advise if they can get HF DF opened up.
 Faleolo - We have DME 176 megs, see if any sign of that pse.
 Aircraft - No sign DME.
 Faleolo - In view of your nationality I will get Pago-Pago facilities opened up as soon as possible.
 Aircraft - Ok
 Canton - HF DF delay one hour to get them on line, also trying to get Sale (OZ) operational also.
 Faleolo - Its getting near daylight, could you watch for the appearance of the
 sun on the horizon, and give us your altitude.
 Aircraft - Ok, getting a stable heading on your NDB, rounding up on to heading 240 fuel remaining 1.75 hours.
 Aircraft - Sun at horizon, altitude 20 thousand ft.
 Faleolo - Ok we will have to do some calculations – wait.
 (lots of thumbing through the Nautical Almanac, Checking and rechecking.)
 Faleolo - Your line of Longitude according to us would be 167”1O’ (which
 would be way to the N E of Samoa.) which with your present heading would be right.
 Canton- Hawaii would confirm that figure restate your heading pse.
 Aircraft Heading now 240 true , but we can’t be where we are told we are
 can we?
 Faleolo - looks like it.
 Pago Pago - Copying - our runway is too short for you, one end is in the
 sea and the other ends in a mountain.- fuel very limited 100 octane only.
 Aircraft. Ok we need 120 Avgas but stay with us please.
 Aircraft - Faleolo we have your DME at 135 miles.
 Faleolo - have you any data on our field and facilities?
 Aircraft - Nil.
 Faleolo - Ok our runway is coral which has a grass growth on it which is
 mowed, its 5000 ft long, and is clearly marked at each end with white marker boards. There is a large ditch at the Eastern end, and a rough overshoot at the Western end, another 2000 ft, but the surface is rough and climbs away from the runway at about 15 degrees. Suspect braking on the grass will be much reduced compared with seal. We have no approach facilities other than DME and NDB.

 At this stage a real fast message to DCA Wellington advising position, requesting permission for an aircraft in an emergency situation to land. The answer one word. No.

 Aircraft (now on tower frequency) have your Island in sight 30 miles to run.
 Faleolo - Ok I would suggest you make a low pass to size the situation up we
 have no other traffic you have permission to descend as required for inspection Altimeter setting xxxx surface wind 200 5 kts.
 Aircraft - Ok descending to 200 ft (on the intercom which shouldn’t have been transmitting~) Hell man thats a short runway.
 Aircraft - Committed, downwind leg, fuel remaining 15 minutes.
 Faleolo - Clear to approach and land on 27.
 Aircraft - turning final we have to do it this time.
 Faleolo – Ok.

 Silence hits the whole 20 or so who were waiting. The aircraft well to the East and descending was almost noiseless steadily losing altitude. Now about 1/2 mile from the runway end and already below the tops of the coconuts each side of the approach, over the marker boards and wheels connect with earth. Wheels locking up solid, grass rolling up in front of the wheels, a plaintive call from the aircraft - have you got big holes in the runway? This was masses of grass wedging up in front of the wheels and the whole machine bouncing over the piles of grass.

 The aircraft stops about 50 ft from the end of the runway.

 Faleolo - turn 180 taxi back about half the length of the run way to the hardstand adjacent the fire engine, bats will pick you up there.
 Aircraft - Hell boy its good to be down, on our way to park. One engine promptly cuts out, no fuel.
 Aircraft parks

 We had arranged for busses to come to the airport to uplift the 90 persons persons aboard and take them to Aggie Greys hotel until a decision was made on how to get them out. Meantime some of the crew and I went back to the Communications Office to dispatch necessary messages. On arrival there are two urgent messages to hand one to myself from Wellington to “park the fire tender in front of the aircraft to prevent its movement”. The other was to the Captain and crew, all of whom were fired on the spot and were not to attempt to move the aircraft. Another arrived very soon after from the Airlines Hawaii Office to the local police prohibiting crew to go aboard the aircraft.

 By this time I had been on watch for almost 30 hours, the amount of traffic this debacle produced had to be seen to be believed. I did get about three hours sleep. and hack into the fray. Proposed movements to get the passengers back to Hawaii, which kept on changing. Finally 4 DC4s arrived, uplifted the passengers and crew, and flew in a replacement crew for the Stratocruiser.

 The aircraft was refuelled with the minimun to get to Canton plus the statutory reserves and the engines run up, there were further delays while minor problems sorted out with engines

 Aircraft - Taxi clearances.
 Faleolo - Cleared to 27 we have no other traffic.
 Aircraft -Takeoff clearance.
 Faleolo - Cleared for takeoff.

 Aircraft runs engines up to full boost, by this time the tailplane is almost flying, lets the brakes go and seemed to move like a snail as it passed the tower, (halfway down the runway seemed to be making about 30 knots) - lifted just before the marker boards, swung into wind towards the palms, little shower of greenery in the air from one of the propellers and slow gain of altitude.

 Aircraft - Off just, at 0930 Z, no problem, all engines running smooth, bound Canton. ETA 1330 Z.
 Faleolo - OK, remember your NDB receiver will be tuned to FA, you wont find Canton on that frequency.
 Aircraft - We will find it this time and a very nice thank you message from the crew and one of the senior ex’s who had come in to do the ground organisation. T’o Faa. (Samoan for good bye).

 The crew on arrival at Hawaii were feted, those marvellous men who saved all those people on a lost aircraft! The crew were all reinstated by virtue of the media hype!

 The Skipper who made friends during the fracas, had to ditch a Stratocruiser enroute Hawaii to ‘Frisco about a year later - landed in rough seas alongside, a weather ship and all passengers and crew were saved. He wrote me from his newly purchased cattle farm in Wyoming, he said he wasn’t game to continue on to the third episode, was bound to be bad luck.

 Much later we heard the full story from the skipper, they all had a rough night in the Mocambo Bar at Nadi. Climbed clear to operating altitude, set auto pilot, feet up on the dash and slept for, almost 4 hours. Precession did the rest!"

http://www.pprune.org/archive/index.php/t-521325.html

Can't find a better image of the Stratocruiser at Faleolo in Western Samoa, yet.




This must be the place
 
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Monty Fowler

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Re: Where are we now, 1953?
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2013, 03:03:55 PM »

Never make the mistake of overestimating human's capacity for fouling things up  ;D

LTM, who's glad he missed that one,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 CER
Ex-TIGHAR member No. 2189 E C R SP, 1998-2016
 
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Chuck Lynch

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Re: Where are we now, 1953?
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2013, 03:52:08 PM »

We have clearance, Clarence.

Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: Where are we now, 1953?
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2013, 06:27:59 PM »

We have clearance, Clarence.

Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?

It does appear that way ;)

There's one or two parts of the radio traffic that the passengers might have been glad to have missed...

Aircraft - 30 mins later - still haven’t sighted a light , no sign of your NDB, think we are lost.
Canton - Acknowledges.
Aircraft - Ok descending to 200 ft (on the intercom which shouldn’t have been transmitting~) Hell man thats a short runway.
 Aircraft - Committed, downwind leg, fuel remaining 15 minutes.
 Faleolo - Clear to approach and land on 27.
 Aircraft - turning final we have to do it this time.

No doubt the passengers were suitably impressed to hear the explanation for the un-planned landing...

"Much later we heard the full story from the skipper, they all had a rough night in the Mocambo Bar at Nadi. Climbed clear to operating altitude, set auto pilot, feet up on the dash and slept for, almost 4 hours. Precession did the rest!"

Simon: Gentlemen, I'd like you to meet your captain, Captain Oveur.

Clarence Oveur: Gentlemen, welcome aboard.

Simon: Captain, your navigator, Mr. Unger, and your first officer, Mr. Dunn.

Clarence Oveur: Unger.

Unger: Oveur.

Dunn: Oveur.

Clarence Oveur: Dunn. Gentlemen, let's get to work.

Simon: Unger, didn't you serve under Oveur in the Air Force?

Unger: Not directly. Technically, Dunn was under Oveur and I was under Dunn.

Dunn: Yep.

Simon: So, Dunn, you were under Oveur and over Unger.

Unger: Yep.

Clarence Oveur: That's right. Dunn was over Unger and I was over Dunn.

Unger: So, you see, both Dunn and I were under Oveur, even though I was under Dunn.

Clarence Oveur: Dunn was over Unger, and I was over Dunn.

????


This must be the place
 
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Steve Lyle Gunderson

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Re: Where are we now, 1953?
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2013, 06:56:16 PM »

So, Who's on 1st?
Steve G
#3911R
 
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: Where are we now, 1953?
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2013, 07:31:37 PM »

So, Who's on 1st?

Dunn, after Unger is Oveur?

I think :-\
This must be the place
 
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: Where are we now, 1953?
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2013, 06:36:25 PM »

Here's a better image of the 'we're lost' Stratocruiser that didn't quite find Canton Island in the Phoenix group of islands. Luckily the crew, with the help of ATC (1953 version) managed to make it to Faleolo in Western Samoa with 15 min's fuel to spare.
It's interesting to note the crews first reactions to not sighting canton...

Aircraft - Boy are your lights on? we don’t hear your NDB.
Canton - Our lights are on, NDB monitor says operation normal.
Aircraft - We must have a stronger headwind than predicted. looks like we may be a little late.
Aircraft - 10 minutes later - Don’t see your lights, don’t hear your NDB.
Canton - We have had technicians check NDB physically, lights are all on.
All services operational.
Aircraft- I think we must have overshot, turning 180 and backtracking.
Canton - Ok.
Aircraft- 30 mins later - still no sign of your lights or your NDB. Now feel our original ETA might have been right - turning 180 and back to original
course. Request upper winds and new terminal forecasts.
Canton - Supplies data as requested.
Aircraft - 30 mins later - still haven’t sighted a light , no sign of your NDB, think we are lost.
Canton - Acknowledges.

That's with good communications and 16 years of evolution in avionics and navigation compared to 1937.

Here's the photo, nice runway, grass topped coral.

This must be the place
 
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