Our superiors, the Operations Manager, Assistant Operations Manager, and Chief pilot always left us to our own devices. None ever criticized a pilot for an error or accident although there were some. They were just old time pilots not truly executives with flight seniority as their only claim to their position. However, I am convinced they were true pioneers.Flying the Hump
Check-out procedure on the C-46 -----(My first command flight in a 46-midnight, green American for co-pilot__).
Pilot supervision was non-existent. There was no provision to brief flight personnel on what to expect. But I learned much later they did keep some sort of record of pilots flying characteristics.
A person, pilot, or whatever never knows how he will react in a life or death emergency or under extreme stress until he has experienced it. I recall 60 years ago as I was practicing spot landings prior to my private flight-test, I collided with another airplane a thousand feet over the Amarillo airport. However, I did exactly the right thing and rode the plane to the ground and survived uninjured. I recall that evening, several hours after the accident, while eating supper with my parents and listing to the radio the newscaster came on and said two planes had collided over the airport. They had no details. I guess I acted a little shaken. My mother turned to me and said, "son, was that you?" I said "yeah". It was never mentioned again in our house. I passed my private flight test two days later.
Although I was kind of shook-up that day, it never affected my flying afterward even when my flight test came up.
Whether or not I got more than my share of the more hazardous flights, i.e. rice drops, Likang, or weather checks, etc., I don't know but I got enough. When weather got so bad that everyone quit flying, after a few hours someone had to go out there to see what the conditions were and radio back to determine if flights could resume. I got my share of these weather flights. I always attributed the fact that they called me often was that I tried hard to radio back as accurately as possible true and correct conditions. When on solid instruments, ice, turbulence, and thunderstorms were about the only items observable. But I always went when they ask me if I would go.
I recall one day while waiting for my manifest, Hugh Woods (CNAC no.2 man and chief of operations at Dinjan) came up to me and said, "John, if you ever cancel a flight, I'll see that the airplane doesn't even go even on a day like this." I said, "Gee, thanks Woody." This day The weather was clear, sunny, few scattered clouds - ideal.
At the time I didn't pay much attention to his remark, I just took it as a complement, it didn't occur to me to ask what prompted Woody to approach me and say that.
Whenever weather conditions were bad, but possible, some pilots would cancel. Operations would simply call up another Captain and the flight would go. I am sure the pilot who cancelled would loose some "face", but I never heard a word or hint of criticism. Personally I never cancelled on account of weather or any flight condition, if I personally was ready to go. But I would not have hesitated for personal reasons, like the time of Walter Roncagleone's Christmas party at Kunming. I could have saved an airplane from being bomb damaged by the Japanese.
Pilots never received any guidance on operations of the aircraft, icing conditions, or_______ only what was handed down by more experienced pilots. I knew Pottschmidt had gone into Guilin because he gave me a very accurate instrument letdown for which I later was very thankful. Some had been to Urumchi and Hami, up on the Gobi Desert along the old camel trail into Russia. And probably had been into Suifu, up the Yangsti from Chung King. I never heard them share their experiences with new pilots. We just found out for ourselves. But they really "missed the boat" in not briefing us on the unique customs of the Indians and the Chinese and how to be Diplomatic Americans respecting their customs so foreign to most of us. They did have this kind of experience.
During the war, the Chinese were very grateful to us and showed a fondness toward Americans, which they did not toward the British. They seemed to ignore our ignorance of their thousands years old customs. In fact, in 1984 Madam Chiang Kai-shek (widow of former Chinese leader General Chiang Kai-shek) hosted our reunion in Taipei. I regret that I did not go. I heard from those who did that she "really rolled out the red carpet". But when she passed out the medals, she sent me one of which I have never interpreted the Chinese inscriptions. It is made of a lightweight base metal. For what we did for her and the General, it should have been pure gold.. Today, I suspect the ordinary Chinese have "forgotten" us. The Communists always disliked CNAC.
The U. S. Military treated us with cooperation and respect. They supplied us with aircraft parts as readily as they did for their own needs. Once after Sharkey dispelled a general and his aid who wanted to commandeer our house, as we lived next door to General Nayland, down the stairs from the second floor. We lost our PX privileges. But not for very long. The Army at the time was using some of our medical facilities in Calcutta. I never knew exactly what happened, but the commandeering general disappeared and all our privileges were restored. I never heard what happened to him.
The British tolerated us as was evidenced in the Calcutta Swimming Club. This was the closest that we got to a higher level of British society. A friend of mine about my age the son of a director of the steel mill at Tatanaga,, the largest steel mill in the British Empire, a very influential Parsee. Russee Mody had a beautiful wife Sy who was accepted in British society. Twice Sy ask if I would escort her to a tea given by the British Governor's wife. Russee did not want to go, not interested. He did not want anything to interfere with his game of rugby. Sy ask me if I prefer she wear a soree or a western dress. Some of those Indian sorees were very beautiful and expensive, woven with gold threads, etc. I always suggested the soree.
Pilot checkout as captain seemed haphazard. We were never given any guidelines for checking new comers. Nor were any new comers given any ground briefing of what to expect. Only just to ride in the right seat as co-pilots for a couple of months. I often put a new man in the left seat and tried as best I could above the aircraft noise to mention things I felt important. Flying a Douglas built aircraft such as a C-47 was not any more difficult than a Piper Cub once you understood the systems and had the feel of two throttles, props and mixtures in hand. Take off required a little learning for those who had only a few thousand hours in a single engine with fixed props. As far as I know, no pilot instructor ever stressed or practiced engine out procedures. The way we were loaded, it probably made little difference. I usually told my checkouts that loss of an engine the way we were loaded, would just stretch your glide and you should just follow a river down stream unless you could jettison your cargo. Captain Lester Hall did one time and his cargo was 10,000 pounds of Chinese bank notes, money. The only time I demonstrated engine out loaded as Pan American had taught, I got heavy buffeting of the tail and nearly lost control, so did not try again. Thank goodness those old P & W 1830's were extremely dependable.
The C-46 was a different story. We got one C-46 Manuel. Four of us met for a week and studied the one Manuel. The flight checkout was mid-day in Calcutta (daytime, aircraft empty, and at sea level) with the chief pilot who himself had just been checked-out. We each got two take-offs and three landings or three take-offs and two landings. But that was enough.
My "solo" was at midnight, gross loaded, solid instruments with an American checking out as captain as Co-pilot that had never even been inside a C-46. My great concern that night was that I might try to follow the retracting Grimes landing lights downward after take-off, so I left them on until I reached about 800 feet. Although I had explained to my American Co-pilot how to raise the landing gear when I gave the signal, he did not accomplish it, so I did that too.
From that point on, I was an old experienced C-46 instructor pilot. "Hap hazard did I say?" But I did understand the aircraft systems. Arnold Weir, chief of maintenance at Dinjan, accepted on my diagnosis for some C-46 engine problems. I had earlier spent some time in Pan American's engine overhaul shop in Miami and also CNAC's in Calcutta.
As an instructor, I made an effort to stress a couple of hazards unique to the aircraft, one related to the C-47 after a fatal accident for which I felt some responsibility, and one related to the C-46. When we dropped rice for the Chinese laborers working on the Burma Road bypass through some lower mountain jungles and passes, a small jungle clearing was secretly marked in the night and the mark code radioed to us in Kunming where we the rice was loaded. About 60 lbs. of rice was loosely filled a 100 lb. size bag so it would not burst when it hit the ground or objects on the ground. Drops were kept very secretive until the last moment because the jungles were infiltrated with Japanese, and they were hungry too.
Since I was one of the early pilots to drop rice, I devised my own system to get as much rice as possible in those small clearings. I would maneuver inside the mountains passing over the clearing several times, lowering my altitude on each pass. Then when ready to drop the rice, I would slow the aircraft down to minimum safe flying speed by lowering the gear, throttle back with the props and mixture set for maximum power. Just before approaching the clearing, I raised the gear ready to climb out of the hole. Passing over the clearing going as slow as safe, I would give the signal to drop. Then all I had to do was to advance the throttles for full power and climb. I always raised the gear MYSELF, NOT allowing the co-pilot, whether Chinese or American being checked-out, to touch anything. I did not need a mistake in the excitement.
On one rice drop I had an American, H. C. McCracken an ex professional baseball player, sharp as hell and an extremely likable person, being checked-out. I failed to explain what I doing with the landing gear because new pilots were not usually given rice drops. But a few months after McCracken was checked out, he had a rice drop. He crashed and killed himself and his crew. Later the chief pilot remarked when they got to his plane, "strange, his landing-gear was meshed down". A C-47 will just barely climb under full power with the gear down. Whether any other pilot got as low and slow by lowering the gear as I did, I do not know. I felt bad that I did not fully explain my rice drop method for slowing the airplane down to McCracken. We lost a valuable pilot possibly from my neglect. I never told the chief pilot how I slowed the airplane by dropping the gear. But later I demonstrated it to a new pilot on missed approach in instrument procedure.
I always felt that I got more that my share of rice drops. Maybe because I tried hard to get more bags of rice in the small jungle clearings. I heard of some pilots who passed over the clearing and dropped from 16,000 feet. Rice scattered everywhere even in the jungle. Much was probably lost.
Although the C-46 has a good hydraulic booster system for its controls, no pilot is strong enough to hold the nose down if he has missed approach and applies the power before changing landing trim. A crash would be inevitable. I also demonstrated this on pilot checkouts.
I LOGGED and was PAID for 546 trips, missions in military terms, MORE THAN 2000 hours on the Hump plus 350 to 400 inside China. I may have flown a bit more that I failed to record. Had I been military, I would have been four flights short of ELEVEN TOURS of duty. Half a century later I, along with others, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross plus three other military citations even though I was never associated with any branch of the military or under any form of military discipline.
Dick Rossi, a former AVG pilot, and I carried the first Chinese officials back to Nanking, the northern capitol of occupied China, to take over the government from the Japanese. Since I had the better map, I was the lead plane. For this I always say I carried the first planeload of Chinese Officials to take back the government of China. After eating supper that night, I went outside for a walk, a little exercise. The streets were deserted except for a patrolling Japanese guard. He still carried his rifle so I did not bother him and he paid no attention to me so I went back into the building and to bed.
I have always considered my two years as a CNAC Captain a fantastic adventure. I am proud of my contribution to the war effort and feel I did more than my part though never physically fit for military service. My disability was my right shoulder that would slip out of joint when my right arm was in a certain position. The pain was paralyzing. I could not fly a C 47 solo because of the position necessary to operate the hydraulics. I had no such problem with a C 46 and so flew them without crew in emergencies. Neither the Pan American nor CNAC doctors caught my disability until I had achieved considerable Hump experience. I was never disqualified and so continued to fly.
If you read the comic strips before WWII and for a time after, you remember the comic strip Terry and the Pirates and the strip Wash Tubs and Easy. Sharp, CNAC Operations Manager, Woods, Assistant Operations Manager, McDonald, Chief Pilot, and Frank Higgs as Dude Hennick who was the close friend of Caniff, were frequent characters in Terry and the Pirates. My only comic "claim to fame" was when I was cast as Captain Easy's co-pilot on a hump flight in the comic strip Captain Easy. Although Leslie Turner, the strip's artist and a good friend of mine, did use my real name in the strip, I was always a bit annoyed as I was not portrayed as "Captain".
One of Charles Sharkey's experiences evading the Japanese Zeros took the back cover as a comic strip on a 1945 Time Magazine.
There were only a total of about 150 or so CNAC pilots that flew the Hump. Because of much turnover, only about 45 or so were ever active at any one time. Out of this group, the USAF awarded several medals including the Distinguished Flying Cross to 19 CNAC pilots, I being one. Some received the Presidential Citation Award. For some reason that I do not understand, I was not one. There were a few others who deserved recognition, but for some reason did not receive any.
Every other year, surviving CNAC people, both ground, survivor hump pilots and post war flight personnel hold a reunion. Earlier we had them pretty much all over in many places. An early one in Beirut, one in Taipei where Madam Chiang Kai-shek was hostess, several in New York, some in San Francisco, San Diego, San Antonio, Las Vegas, and Florida but most were at Ojai just outside Los Angeles for which Bob Prescott's Flying Tiger Airline personnel always made arrangements. Sometimes even sending a plane zigzag cross the country picking us up at our local airports.
Fewer and fewer original hump pilots attend the reunion no matter where held. A few seem not interested, some are physically unable, many deceased. Most of those who survived the hump are now either approaching 80 or past. I was among the younger, though not the youngest at 23 when joining CNAC, 24 when checked out as captain, am now 80 in 2000.
All Hump flights originated from the far North East corner of India in the state of Assam only 400 feet above sea level, a warm moist sub-tropical climate. We flew over rugged mountains into a higher cool temperate zone. Once a new pilot who had made enough flights during the Monsoons on solid instruments to be checked out as captain was held back by the chief pilot so he could one time see what he was flying over before turning him loose. After a momentary clearing of the weather he saw, he resigned, and immediately headed back to the States to face the draft and the walking army. Not a good prospect.
The direct route to Kunming took us over some rugged terrain with the associated turbulence, icing, and nighttime thunderstorms, and in good weather the Japanese Zeros. The minimum altitude was 16,000 feet. This was probably the most heavily traveled route by both CNAC and the Army. The turbulence sometimes was severe, especially in nighttime thunderstorms.. One of our pilots had maintenance check his wings for distortion after a particularly rough flight.
During the Monsoons, we would climb as rapidly as possible to transit the freezing rain level as rapidly as possible as freezing rain builds up fast and I do mean fast in these overloaded, slow climbing C 47's. Weight of ice buildup is insignificant, but the change of the shape of the airfoil of the wings, tail and propeller blades is critical. It affects the aircraft's ability to climb and remain under control. It can be disastrous. Proper operation of the deicer boots was critical. Either too soon or too late can be catastrophic. The propeller deicers that we had were a joke. The wing tip static device was not effective in reducing static.
Flying the Hump could be hazardous to your health. Although I feel sure we had fewer fatalities by percentage than the Army, we still had substantial fatal losses of 35% our pilot force by actual count during my two years. We flew some of the Army's more hazardous flights such as their supply trips to Likang and the rice drops for Chinese laborers on the Burma Road. I flew both of these numerous times.
In January of 1944 we lost 5 planes in a short period in the area of Tali, a 15,000-foot mountain adjacent to a large lake. My guess they probably suffered severe icing from super cooled Monsoon rain or moisture from the lake, loosing lift and control. A mountain next to a lake mixed with winter Monsoon conditions do made interesting weather. I have always suspected ice that possibly caused one wing to stall before the other and the plane being overloaded was immediately out of control or wing ice loss of lift just caused them to sink into the mountain. The real causes were never determined.
Nearly a year later in similar weather and at night over Tali, I nearly suffered a similar problem. One night my plane's windshield and side windows were so covered with ice that the I could not see out and had no idea how much ice was on the leading edge of the wings for the proper operation of the de-icer boots. I do know that I had great difficulty holding my altitude. I passed over Tali, the same 15,000-foot mountain where we lost those planes in January 1944. My altimeter was reading between 14,600 to 15,000 feet, under full power in as much a climb attitude as I dared. I did not know my stall speed with unknown amount of wing ice. I never saw the mountain or knew by how much I cleared it. I just know I missed it, I'm still here.
A northern route that took us to Suifu (or Ipin) and on beyond to Chung King although beyond the Japanese patrols was far more rugged than the direct route to Kunming. I have never seen terrain before or since like the Suifu run. It was the only route that I ever heard of where the company would pay TWO Captains salaries and that for two trips, an experienced one checking another. Bob Prescott (former Flying Tiger) checked me out. I felt one of Bob's flight procedures too dangerous for me, example. Climbing up a blind canyon, so I only took the one flight for checkout. Because of several mountains along the way this route too high to overfly and must navigated around was not generally flown on instruments. There is nothing on this continent to rival the raggedness of this route. Along the way, I noted a nearly perfect cube of rock half buried in and protruding out the side of a 23,000-foot mountain leaning over at about 15o angle. I estimated it to be at least a mile on each edge. A cubic mile of rock is one big cube. A pair of these would have made a giant size crap game even for Las Vegas.
The only one of our pilots absolutely known to have been shot down by Japanese fighters was probably due to his negligence. He was in radio contact with Dinjan flying at 16,000 feet on a clear day just north of the Japanese fighter base at Myitkyina, Burma. He reported Zeros circulating around him. We never heard anything more. He was certainly shot down and swallowed up in the jungle.
Later we were almost always able to evade them by flying over their patrolled area in the dark or on instruments during the Monsoons. I have no idea of Army losses to Japanese Zeros.
As the weather would deteriorate, some pilots would cancel. Often the Chinese who manned operations would just call up another captain and the PLANE with the same crew went. The only reasons I ever canceled were personal, like the Christmas party at Kunming, never on account of weather. I was always too fidgety when waiting to fly. There were several times when I went but probably should not have gone.
Occasionally the weather would become so bad we all quit flying for a few hours. After a while someone needed to go out to see what the conditions were. It seemed to me that every time we had a temporary shut down and I was available, I was asked to go out as a "weather" pilot and report back. I always assumed it was because I always went and I always tried hard to radio back EXACTLY and accurately what I encountered. Later, on one clear day when I was waiting for my manifest, Woody (Hugh Woods Chief of operations at Dinjan) came up to me and said: "John, anytime you cancel a flight, I'll see that the airplane does not even go, even if it is a day like today". I said, "gee, thanks, Woody" without considering why he might have said what he did. Later thinking about it, I considered what he had said to be real complement. Maybe I was targeted as a "weather pilot" because I reported weather conditions as accurately and clearly as I could. I will never know. Woody is dead. Not like Red Holmes who would report "CAVU here in the cockpit and that's where I am". He probably could not even see the wing tips. Also Red used to put the name of some sexy pin-up female in the aircraft log as his Hostess. The Chinese in operations did not understand. Of course any American would understand and be amused.
Slightly south of our direct route could be flown at a lower altitude, 10,000 feet on SOLID instruments if done VERY carefully. This was below anything the Army would fly, so we did not bother with their and our C-46 traffic. It took us directly over the Japanese fighter base. We used this for C-47's at night or during the Monsoons when the direct route was saturated by C-46's. The C47s occupied the same airspace of a C-46 and carried only half the load. So the C46s got preference, ours as well as the Army's.
Some of our instrument letdowns had to be flown with extreme accuracy, zero tolerance. Examples were Guilin and Suifu. Once a low power DF station at Suifu in a small meadow in a bend of the upper Yangtze River was moved a short distance without telling anyone causing two planes to crash killing two crews.
I once made a very low (actually too low) instrument letdown at Guilin. When I broke out, I do not believe I had 20 feet clearance either side between my wings and the rocks that were shaped like inverted ice cream cones sticking up into the overcast.
Each time one of us passes on, many peculiar experiences and good stories are lost. CNAC created five books, each chapter by some experience of a pilot.
Our Chinese Co-pilots were not flight trained; such positions were generally political. They had little or no experience and certainly not qualified on the airplane, but there were no experienced Chinese pilots available. Our Chinese radio operators were generally adequate in key operation (distances were often too great for voice) and seemed to do their job well.
Recognition for our War Effort
A few years back nearly half a century after the fact when Congress passed Public Law 95-202 Sec.106, 38 USC certain members of certain groups were recognized as furnishing significant contributions to WWII war effort. Some by performance of hazardous missions, others possibly for other reasons. Among the Flying personnel were certain American Airline, Trans World Airline (TWA). United Airline, American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers), Consolidated Vultee, and subsidiaries and affiliates of others including Pan American Airways (China National Aviation Corp. - CNAC). Flight personnel received varying decorations, some recognition more significant than others, but all received full legal "Veterans" status complete with honorable discharge DD 214.
Some, namely the Merchant Marine, CNAC and others performed hazardous missions exposed to the enemy or to conditions involving substantial loss of life. The Merchant Marines were, in my opinion were the real heroes of WWII, serving in marginal conditions subject to extreme dangers, particularly in the North Atlantic, from German Submarines, without proper plaudits. Living in marginal conditions most were very patriotic and anxious to serve the war effort in any way they could. Some were too old, physically unfit, or in some way not fit for military service. President Roosevelt was so beholden to them that he bestowed on the merchant seamen, veteran status and full benefits, excluding pensions. A few years later, the jealous U. S. Navy lobbied congress hard to get these benefits removed even though the Merchant Marine losses were much greater the Navy's, largely by submarines at sea, many drowning in the cold icy north Atlantic enroute to Murmansk Russia, sometimes by Japanese or German submarines gunning helpless survivors in the water or in their life boats. Once some British warship escort left a large convoy of American merchant ships to mercy of the German submarines because they thought the German Battleship sister to the giant Bismark was coming and they did not want to risk their war ships. When a merchant vessel was torpedoed, those who survived in the water or made it to lifeboats were left behind. No convoy ship could afford stop to pick them up while a German submarine may be lurking nearby.
After the war, many merchant marine sailors had nothing. Nearly half a century later, they received recognition, but specifically no compensation. However by now most probably are dead, relieving the Navy's concern. Though CNAC Pilot's situation is similar, we did live well in Calcutta enjoying many creature comforts, plenty of R. & R. as well as plenty of spending money, throughout the war. Many, though by all means not all, have done well financially since the war from the seed money earned flying. CNAC pilots were different breed, individualists accustomed to reliance on their own devices. We were totally in charge of our flights, and seldom, if ever, questioned on any flight decision. Merchant marine sailors were generally not so fortunate being in an occupation always being dependent on teamwork and others. July 1942…(I will add more here later)
Of all the CNAC Captains with whom I was acquainted, I cannot imagine any who would take to the necessary military discipline. I never knew of anyone who turned down a flight because of the hazards. "Soldiers of Fortune" always came to mind. The money would always outweigh the hazards. Back then, we enjoyed considerable respect from the Army Air Corps. Our maintenance never lacked aircraft parts if the Army had them. We never missed a flight for lack of 100-octane gas even when it was in real short supply. Flight personnel had full access to the PX with maximum allotments of short items, i.e. liquor, beer, cigarettes, etc.
As one of those who received belated recognition from the U. S. Department of Defense for my 546 "Missions" to the war effort. I am disturbed that it took the U. S. Department of Defense nearly half a century to realize that I, along with others, did play an important role in the war effort, not only for our Chinese Nationalists Allies, but also for the U. S. Air force. Along with others, I received the Victory medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 4 Stars, Honorable service lapel pin, and along with others, the Distinguished Flying Cross. As well as a Nationalist Chinese decoration from Madam Chiang Kai-Shek. A Chinese metal that I have never had translated or determined its significance.
AVG Ace Duke Hedman also showed little respect for this medal.
HUMP FLYING EXPERIENCES
During WWII I flew 546 trips over the Hump, which constituted over 2000 hours on that pile of rocks. After the Japanese surrender in August of 1945, I flew numerous trips throughout China. Some flights were amusing, some anxious other just interesting. Flying for CNAC for two years was not only a fantastic adventure but also I feel my full contribution to the war effort. Relating these experiences may not interest everyone, but many have left their bones on the hills on the airports, or jungles doing the same things. Our losses were substantial by any standard, but we continued. Only once did we stop after one known shot down, and then for only a short time. Very occasionally for weather, due to such icing (freezing rain) that we just couldn't get high enough. We flew under conditions that discouraged others.
AMUSING FLIGHTS, good for a laugh
Those who have traveled in foreign or lessor-developed countries know that sometimes you get the "trots". On a beautiful clear smooth day, I was sailing along at 16.000 feet in a C46, autopilot on, but with a non-capable Chinese Co-pilot when I got a very urgent powerful urge. Unlike the C47, the entire toilet of the '46 can be disconnected from the floor. So I go to the back of the plane, unsnap the toilet from the floor, carried it forward and set it down between the pilot and co-pilot sat down and grabbed my oxygen mask. I did not ask my crew's approval or seek their advice. So sitting on the can, sucking oxygen, I was "Pilot-in-Command". Shortly thereafter when I felt better, I put my clothes back on, got back into my seat, descended and landed at Dinjan where CNAC maintenance had "specialists" to take care of my "toilet damage".
When I left the plane, I left the toilet in the cockpit for the "convenience" of the next crew. None of our other airplanes had its own cockpit toilet.
Oh that need to urinate
One morning as I settled into the seat of a C47 for departure, I felt a very strong urge to urinate. I did not want to delay the flight and leave the plane to find a toilet, so I went ahead and took off. After setting the autopilot in the climb, retracting the rudder petals, I slid the seat full back and full up and straightened out like a post leaning at about a 300 angle between the seat back and floor. I unbuttoned my pants, got ready, reached down under the seat and pulled out the little relief funnel and let go.
But what I did not realize as I slid the seat all the way back and up that it had crimped the rubber relief tube completely closed. The funnel filled fast and began to overflow spilling into the depression of the old leather seat. Before I could stop, I had good puddle of urine.
Now all that's not so bad and could be handled except in my straight position leaning against the seat back in this narrow space between the side of the plane to my left and the quadrant to my right, I had a desperate problem. How am I going to get my feet under me to stand up without first sitting down in the puddle. Fifty-six years ago this was not at all funny. Only now looking back today, I can find it humorous.
Gold. Smitty knew where to look - excrement where the gold was hid
The Chinese were par-excellence at smuggling -- Smitty could "smell" gold
(to be completed)
Hauling Chinese Coolies for labor on the Burma Road - SICK!!!PUKE!!!
THEY BOMB US AND SHOOT US
Zeros shoot us down
During the Monsoons, day and night, when there was no freezing rain, icing, or thunderstorms just smooth instrument flying, we could take off from Dinjan climb up to 16,000 feet fly direct course to Kunming. Or if very careful, fly a little farther south directly over the Japanese fighter base at Myitkyina at 10,000 feet and watch the ADF needle spin like a cartwheel, especially at night, from their jamming. This was our safest and easiest flying since we could fly over lower terrain. However, on clear days it was another story.
We only know for sure that the Japanese shot down one of our planes since the pilot was in radio contact with Dinjan at the time he reported a Zero circulating his aircraft. That is the last we heard. Almost certainly he was shot down and the jungle swallowed up all evidence. A few others who disappeared without a trace certainly may have suffered the same fate, we do not know. The U.S. Army probably had more shot down, certainly substantially more than we, but we never knew, and they probably didn't either. The only clue we ever had was the Army's operation map showing more than 2800 "downed" airplanes. "Downed" aircraft could be from several causes, shot down being only one. They referred to the hump as the aluminum trail.
During clear weather we devised several ways to evade the Zeros, as we had to fly over the northern Burma valley that they patrolled. After the one known shot down, we would take off from Dinjan at midnight, fly the direct route just north of the Japanese fighter base at Myitkyina in the dark, lay over in Kunming until evening and return arriving over the Japanese again in the dark. This was unsatisfactory as we only able to make one round trip a day; too low a utilization of our limited airplanes.
Japanese Bombers miss our airport at Kunming
It was a clear night, the air full of aircraft circulating to land on the only strip at Kunming. So many aircraft in the air that Jap bombers slipped into our traffic pattern unnoticed. WHAT COULD WE DO? Too many airplanes. They wished "Tare King" (Army traffic control) a Merry Christmas and dropped their bombs missing the airport, but hitting a Chinese village just outside. This was not dangerous to our air traffic, as they did not shoot from the bombers. But if they dropped bombs on our only runway, it might make landing interesting.>br>
Japanese bomb Kunming Christmas Eve 1944 -- Christmas parties -- Rocky's ice cream
(details tocome) The Black___by les Turner.
Following Japanese Bombers one night to Kunming
Bombing at Dinjan
I recall on one occasion as I started the engines on a C47, I looked up and saw a ball hanging in an old barren tree. Asking the tower if that was a one "baller" which meant Japanese bombers were on the way, he answered, "yes". This day we had a broken to scattered low clouds at about 300 feet but only a couple hundred feet thick. I guess the Japanese did not get a good weather report or maybe thought they could drop bombs through a break. A minute or two later as I reached the taxi strip, I saw 2 balls in the tree which meant enemy aircraft close. Then almost immediately as I turned onto the runway I noticed 3 balls meaning bombers overhead. The tower quickly said, "cleared for take off, I'm leaving the tower", so without hesitation or engine check, I immediately hit the throttles. I knew I would be safer in the air than exposed to bombing on the ground. I flew underneath toward the mountains at about 200 feet, just under the clouds. When the terrain began to climb into the overcast I pulled up on top to go through the pass where the U.S. Engineers were building the bypass of the old Burma Road.
From there on I had a nice pleasant uneventful trip to Kunming. On returning to Dinjan later that day I saw a P51 that had crash-landed on our field. It did not look too bad, I believe the pilot could have walked away. There seemed to be very little damage. The Japanese were very poor, inaccurate bombers and so seldom did they affect our operations. I never inquired nor heard about what happened at Chaboa (the Army Air Base about six miles from Dinjan), nor how the P-51 got shot down.
I was tired and so went to the hostel, ate a good dinner and then to bed. Just another day.
G. Mary Margaret Potschmidt's little golden Irish retriever & Rabies shots - our servants & Nayand's Chinese servants.
H. Flying along w/Hank Smith 24, 36 or more hours. TWICE.
D. Engine delivered to ___ half way to Suifu That night in Suifu with Bob Prescott Trip into Suifu. (Terrain on Suifu run-Army did not fly this)
E. Week after Japanese surrender on instrument flight Shanghi to CHG via Hankow, Chinese deplaning