World Flight Begins!
First Hop Complete
By Maj. F.L. Martin, Commanding
On April 5th an effort was made to depart for Prince Rupert, but in attempting to take-off, the flagship "Seattle", No. 1, damaged the tipping of the propeller in the spray, which necessitated retipping of the propeller. This work was done by the Boeing Aircraft Corporation working the remainder of that day and all the night of April 5th and 6th. The propeller was delivered at 5:30 this morning and installed. Airplanes No. 1, the "Seattle", No. 2, the "Chicago", and No. 4, the "New Orleans", departed at 8:45 a.m. No. 3, the "Boston", experienced difficulty in taking off as we were carrying the maximum load of gasoline and oil as the flight to Prince Rupert was next to the longest which we would experience. The "Boston" did not leave until 10:00 a.m.
As the flight remained in the air over Lake Washington until the "Boston", No. 3, had started to takeoff and as three airplanes in addition to the flagship were observed to be in flight over the bay of Seattle, it was not observed that the "Boston" was not in flight until the photographic ship which had been mistaken for the "Boston" returned to Seattle when the flight was in the vicinity of Port Townsend, Washington, about 40 miles north of Seattle. As every effort had been made to have all four airplanes leave as a complete flight unit, it was a great disappointment to learn of this mistake, but it was considered a better policy to continue that to return again to Lake Washington, thus delaying the progress of the flight and creating an unfavorable reaction on the public.
The route from Seattle to Prince Rupert was the one usually used by steamships. At Seattle the sky was overcast, but the ceiling was approximately 2000 feet. It was calm. Shortly after entering Georgian Strait, the atmosphere began to change. Visibility became very much poorer and at 11:35 a.m., the ceiling was 400 feet. The flight was then 225 miles from Seattle. As we entered Johnson Strait, although the channel was very narrow at times, it was impossible to see from one shore line to another, a distance of approximately two miles. At this time we were forced down to within 50 feet of the water. The "Seattle" was leading. I was constantly on the alert to see that no steamship was directly in our path, the mast of which we might strike.
At 1:50, while passing over Queen Charlotte Sound, the fog lifted slightly. The sky was overcast. We were now about half way from Seattle to Prince Rupert. Visibility was fair for a few minutes only; then we encountered rain which soon turned to sleet, then snow. Along the route between Vancouver Islands and Queen Charlotte Islands, where the coast was exposed to open sea, very strong quarterly winds were encountered. The sea beneath us was extremely rough. The swells were approximately 20 feet high, and breaking badly at their crest. A forced landing at this time would have spelled disaster for both the airplane and its personnel. Intermittent snow squalls continued until we were off Princess Royal Island; here the atmosphere cleared until we had a ceiling of about 1000 feet. Following Grenville Channel, we arrived off the entrance to Prince Rupert Harbor. Immediately after turning in towards Prince Rupert, we encountered a blinding snow storm. The snow was so thick that it was very difficult to see. Lieutenant Nelson, in the "New Orleans", stated that from his position in the formation he could not see the "Chicago" on the opposite side. As we approached Seal Cove, the yellow buoys were visible. We were then at an altitude of about 400 feet. Knowing that the bay terminated in the mountains directly ahead and due to the poor visibility, there seemed to be ample room to glide down, turning into the wind, and land near the buoys. This I did. When the "Seattle" was almost ready to touch the water, it was very evident that the forward motion would carry her against the rocks on the beach. The first impulse was to open the throttle and attempt to extricate myself from this position. A point of land jutted out to my right on which was a saw mill. Directly in front were hills whose tops were not visible on account of the storm; to the left and rear were high mountains. Realizing that on account of the weight of the airplane and its slow rate of climb, this action would result in complete disaster, I pulled back the throttle, elevated the nose of the airplane, and made a stalled landing. The plane settled slowly until about 10 feet from the water when, on account of losing its forward speed, dropped with considerable force. The impact broke the two outside struts of the left wing and the four small vertical brace wires at the outer edge of the stub wing on the left side, permitting the upper wing on that side to sag considerably. It was impossible to make a critical examination at this time to determine the actual damage, but it was felt that the fitting had no doubt been strained. The "Chicago" and "New Orleans" landed safely, although the "Chicago" in making an approach narrowly escaped disaster; her pontoons barely missing high tension wires on poles along the beach. The "Boston", piloted by Lieutenant Wade, arrived at 5:25, having left Seattle at 10:00 a.m. Her time of flight was 45 minutes less than the time of the other three planes, whose time of flight was 8 hours, ten minutes. We were all very tired and made no effort to service the planes. No one thought that we could complete the flight and would be forced to await more favorable weather at some point between Seattle and Prince Rupert.
First Hop Report
by Lt. L.H. Smith "Chicago" Pilot
Planes were made ready for the flight to leave on April 4th, but unfavorable weather reports along the line of flight resulted in a delay until April 5th. On this date, the "Seattle" was unable to get off the water, very likely caused by the overloading of the plane for this long flight. After several attempts to leave the water, the propeller had been damaged by the water spray and the repairing of it was necessary before continuing. The Boeing Aircraft Company again came to our assistance, working all night, in order that the start could be made on April 6th. On this date, the "Seattle", "Chicago" and "New Orleans" got away as planned and continued the flight to Prince Rupert without the "Boston" which had difficulty in starting and was delayed 40 minutes.
[Note: "Boston" was actually delayed about 75 minutes. - ed.]
The first part of the flight to Prince Rupert was over Puget Sound, Georgia Strait, running into fog at Quadra Island, then through Johnston's Strait to Queen Charlotte Sound, where we were forced to the waters level by the fog. Flying was especially difficult because of the glassy condition of the water, it being almost impossible to estimate our altitude. Upon reaching the open sea at Capr Caution, we left the fog behind, flying over very rough water most of the remaining distance; the weather being of a squally nature, making it necessary for us to fly through and around numerous snow storms. At Campania Islands, the flight followed Nepean Sound, then through Ogden Channel to Prince Rupert. At Campania, Lieut. Wade took the intended route, called the "Inside Passage" through the Grenville Channel. It was shorter and furnished much better flying conditions. The flight landed at Prince Rupert during a heavy snow storm at 4:55 p.m. The "Seattle" made a stall landing which broke two outer struts and four vertical wires on the plane. The advance arrangements were excellent and no special difficulty was encountered in repairing the plane, except that caused by very severe weather and the necessity of working outside. The "Boston" landed 35 minutes after the "Seattle", "Chicago", and "New Orleans"; flying time being 7 hours 25 minutes.
[Note: flying time was actually 8 hours 10 minutes - 8:45 a.m. to 4:55 p.m. - ed.]
Our First Day
by Lt. L.P. Arnold "Chicago" Mechanic
No. 1 completed and into the air about 8:30 -- all being O.K. the others got under way at 8:55 numbers 1,2, & 4 left Lake Washington for Prince Rupert. Plane #3 had trouble getting away & did not accompany others.
At the north end of Georgia Straits ran into fog which increased and for the next 100 miles through Discovery & Johnstone Straits we traveled about 40 feet above the water, sometimes lower.
At Queen Charlotte Sound the ceiling lifted a little & rain set in, and rounding Cape Caution was the "kick" of the trip. Here the waves from the ocean came in in great swells -- conservatively being 40 feet high -- greater yet to imagine a forced landing.
From Calvert Island on there was never a clear stretch & rain, hail or snow always -- the only difference being that sometimes it stormed harder than at other times. Our course took us inside Aristazable Island, through Estevan & Napean Sounds, Petrel & Ogden Channels, & Malacca Passage, thence east to Prince Rupert where we landed at 4:55 in a blinding snow storm. By the natives it was called the worst day this winter.
No. 1 in landing broke outside left struts -- #3 arrived at 5:30. All ships tied down -- mooring arrangements excellent. Met by American Counsel & city officials.
My Lonely Flight
by Lt. L. Wade - Pilot of the Boston
When we took off from Seattle's Lake Washington this morning to try to be the first around-the-world by air, the betting was that not one of the four single-engine, two-place, open cockpit planes would make it all the way. As one of the pilots for this vanguard adventure, a friend told me I was crazy: "You might as well crook your toe in a trigger and get it over with!"
Headed for the first stop at Prince Rupert, British Columbia, 650 miles north of Seattle, I wasn't so sure he wasn't right. Two hours behind the others, having been delayed at the start to make adjustments to my plane, I followed the Canadian coastline as the fog became thicker and thicker, forcing me to fly lower and lower, often only a few feet above the sea. Rounding a wooded cape, so close that I could smell the spruce, the wild waves, cold and grey, hurled themselves in fury against the rocky cliffs. The spume and mist shooting into the air bathed my face in the open cockpit.
Most of the time I could see no further ahead than the blurred arc of the spinning propeller. Driving rain turned to snow, which shifted to squalls of pounding hail and sheets of sleet. In the vague visibility, I once missed the masts of a lumbering freighter only be inches, managing just in time to kick the rudder to the left and scrape to safety.
Finally reaching Prince Rupert, I just sat in the cockpit, pretending to write in my log book. I didn't want anyone to see me shaking.