Skip to comments.Coast Guard rescues Pan Am Flight 6 - in the middle of the Pacific Ocean
Posted on 10/17/2019 5:11:14 AM PDT by fugazi
On the evening of 15 October 1956 a Pan American Airlines Stratocruiser named Clipper Sovereign of the Skies lifted off from Honolulu, headed to San Francisco on a 2,000-mile flight. 24 passengers and seven crew were flying the final leg of their around-the-world flight, but still had 2,000 miles of open ocean to cross.
4 hours, 38 minutes into the nine-hour flight Capt. Richard Ogg climbed from 13,000 feet to 21,000. After leveling off, Clippers Number 1 engine started spinning out of control. The cockpit suddenly jolts and the high-pitched noise of the runaway engine can be heard inside the cabin. The crew works to bring the engine RPMs down, but cant feather the propeller to slow the blades down. Capt. Ogg is left with no choice but to kill the engine by cutting off the flow of oil.
Down to three engines with 1,000 miles to fly, the Pan Am crew now had to contend with a propeller that is now creating a tremendous amount of drag, slowing down the plane and requiring the remaining three engines to increase their power and fuel consumption to compensate.
Good news/bad news
The bad news: the Pan Am clipper has just reached the point of no return halfway between Honolulu and San Francisco. The good news: 50 miles to the east is Ocean Station NOVEMBER, a spot in the Pacific where a Coast Guard cutter kept station, providing weather reports, relaying communications traffic, and is on call for search and rescue duties. Within moments of the incident, the Pan Am crew notified USCGC Pontchartrain (WHEC-70) of the situation. Although it was still the middle of the night, seas were calm if the pilot had to ditch in the ocean.
(Excerpt) Read more at victoryinstitute.net ...
If you can get a pix of the Pan Am sea plane it would really add to your posting.
Bottom line - there is no safety in numbers when you are only as strong as your weakest link.
Fascinating point... It’s neat to see the formula and mathematics behind the common sense. Shaking my head because I had argued against the logic of flying across oceans with only two engines.
Those were the days. We had a HUGE MILITARY (far bigger than today’s) and used them only when needed, as opposed to satisfying John McCain’s desires. Back then if the Kurds wanted to wage jihad against Turkey, about all the support they’d get from us would be a note saying something like “have at it, boys”.
I would say the last flight I actually found enjoyable was on Pan Am. That was due as much to the absence of TSA as it was due to the in-cabin experience.
A lesson that many fail to learn.
“I imagine pulling Ocean Station duties (we maintained several weather boats during the Cold War) had to be incredibly boring duty. You’re literally 1,000 miles from anywhere.”
They probably played a lot of Cribbage, but I did hear a story about an ocean station relief ship that was coming up to relieve the ship on Ocean station and they noticed when they got close there was a crewman pushing a lawn mower on one of the weather decks. The initial thought was probably “these guys are crazy from being out here so long...”
Well it turns out this particular crewman would bring lawn mowers on board the ship so when he was out on Ocean station he could repair the lawn mowers in then he would sell them once he got back to shore.
I think by 1956 the Pan Am Clipper Flying Boats were coming to the end of their life cycle, they had served well in the mid-to-late thirties and through the war but they were old birds 1956.
Click on the link and theres video of the landing and rescue
Pushing a lawn mower when the other crew steams in sounds like a stunt I would have come up with, to scare them into thinking you’ll go nuts out here... just like that ship’s crew did.
That was my first thought... what an ugly bird.
Amazing story. In the middle of the ocean. Think of all the publicity Capt. Schilly got for landing in the Hudson.
The History Guy on Facebook has a complete episode on this rescue. Semper Paratus! USCG
I made six crossings of the Pacific by the time I was 13 years old Army Brat.
MSTS featured a two week ride, Seattle to Yokohama, Yokohama to Seattle...
It wasn’t a flying boat.
They were long gone by 1956.
A similar story happening at the same Ocean Station November with the military version of the Stratocruiser, the C-97, can be found here:
Not to ruin your vacation plans, but the mid-point of the route between California and Hawaii where Ocean Station November used to park is the most remote from land airway segment in the world. There you are farther from land, and any divert base, than anywhere else in the world, 1100 miles.
(Yes, there is a more remote spot in the sub-Antarctic South Pacific, but no one flies there.)
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