World Flight arrives at Minato, Japan
by Lt. L.P. Arnold "Chicago" Mechanic
At 12:10 midnight, we were called & had breakfast shortly after -- and by two were out at the lake. It was nice & clear then, but shortly afterwards (just at dawn) the fog came in thick. About five it started to break and at 5:30 we took off for Minato. The country on this stretch was much the same as hithertofore -- volcanic & mountainous, and once shortly after leaving Hitakoppu, for the first time in my life, I saw a smoking volcano. There was a lot of fog around, it seeming to be in bunches -- at times it would be clear as could be, at other times many patches of it could be seen, and once we flew for 90 miles over some sea & failed to see it at all.
At [Amori], the Ford was anchored & signaled that bad weather was ahead, but it couldn't be any worse than that we had come through so we circled the town once & watched all the inhabitants rush down the streets to the waterfront & then continued on our way. At 10:30 we sighted Minato, the first big town since leaving Seattle, and landed at 10:38 in big rolling swells for the bay & the ocean are all one.
An elaborate reception had been planned for us here, at least fifteen thousand people had gathered to see us land, a big "welcome" arch had been erected, reception tents & launches.
At Minato, Sampans came out with fuel & in two hours everything was ready, a hasty consultation was held, and while we would have liked to have gone ashore, we left at once.
Immediately after starting our plane [Chicago] developed a miss & after ten minutes we turned & came back -- landing at 1:15. After a few minutes the trouble was located, the oil breather having been blown out & lodged on top of the battery which it shorted. It was quite a trick to take off here in big swells, but for the second time we did it & as the other planes had circled & were waiting -- we started out the second time at 1:25. For the first two & a half hours the weather was bad -- more fog & some rain but then it cleared and was fine. This leg of the trip was both beautiful & interesting -- many small villages tucked away in the valleys, lots of rice paddys with their irrigation lay outs, some private estates with well kept grounds. The country seemed to be divided into sections -- that is there would be a section devoted to farming, then would come a mountainous section & here fishing would be the occupation & off shore could be seen countless sampans, then a section devoted to rice paddys, etc. At every village we passed there could always be seen a crowd of people out on the beaches & hills to watch us pass.
Shortly after five, we swung inshore to Lake Kashimugira & to the Naval Air Station there -- and here again an immense crowd had gathered to see us land, at least ten thousand, if not more. When we passed thru them to meet the Admiral commanding, they cheered & waved flags -- which made us feel darn good. A battery of newspaper men & photographers were present, quite a few of them being American correspondents. We made the planes fast for the night & then came to the club where the local officers gave us rooms, orderlies, a dinner, lots to drink, and it was about 12 when we got to bed again. A strenuous day, but we were all glad we had covered the 900 miles & were at last in Tokyo.
The native costumes of course attracted our attention -- for variety of color, they are unbeatable. The grass is green, no snow at all, trees in bloom, the weather warm, and every one kind & willing to help -- I'm sure we will all like Tokyo.
by Lt. L. H. Smith Commanding
Very dense fogs delayed the flight until this morning. The flight personnel had breakfast at midnight and were prepared to leave shortly after, only to be delayed by another fog until 5:25 a.m. The flight passed along the eastern coast of Yetorofu, passed over the Peninsula of Noshappu, thence directly to Yerimo Point. Here it was necessary for the flight to go above the fog for the water jump to Minato; fog clearing away shortly before reaching the destination. The landing was made at 10:30 a.m. in large rolling swells. The harbor was unprotected and entirely unsatisfactory for the operation of seaplanes. An elaborate reception had been planned by the Japanese people on shore, nut, inasmuch as the personnel had decided on reaching Tokyo on this day, it was deemed inadvisable to take the time required for the greetings on shore which had been prepared. The personnel remained on the planes and as soon as refueling had been completed, the flight continued.