E. X-Mas rations to N. Burma or china border - Gen Stillwell & G.I.'s
E. Sharkey landing KMG chopping a Chinese cooley into pieces.
I. Hami, and the Russian, Drunk!
2. UNUSUAL AIRPORTS:
A. Likang, Supplying Army's DF Station
B. My trip to "Shangri-La" Utopia from movie Lost Horizons.
C. Airport at Chungking, 400' gorge at a 90o angle with power line.
Sand Bar w/ cobblestones 2200' Sampans
Rocks at Guilin
One day as I signed the manifest, I noticed it read "Guilin". Since the Monsoons were still with us, I ask Robert Pottschmidt (an old timer from before the Sino-Japanese war and our most senior flying and a very precise pilot. He was "Captain Potts" in the comic strip "Terry and the Pirates". When I asked if he had an instrument letdown for Guilin. He replied "Yes" and verbally gave me some DF headings, which I wrote down, and have to this day. As an after thought he said, "fly this close because those rocks at Guilin stick up pretty high and you will be close. "OK, OK" I replied without thinking much about it and took off for Guilin some 500 miles east of Kunming. Sure enough it was closed in. All around Guilin there are many rocks shaped like inverted ice cream cones with points that may stick up some 300 feet. I never saw the rock tops when I finally broke clear as they still were in the overcast. Although Potty mentioned the rocks, he did not tell me how high they were, nor I am sure he never expected the tops to extend into the overcast, so I never learned the true heights of their peaks.
I habitually let down to about 200 feet on the old very dependable Kollsman, and occasionally as low as 125 if no obstructions were expected. The thing that always worried me about this was that my altimeter setting was from hundreds of miles away at the field elevation of departure. No altimeter settings were ever available at destinations. So I flew the letdown EXACTLY to the degree of the reliable old C47 compass, descended and broke out below 200 feet. Just ahead and immediately to my left I saw a pointed rock sticking up into the overcast. It seemed as if it might scrape the navigation light from my left wing, so I started to wheel over a bit more to the right and as I did I saw another rock sticking up into the overcast and just as close to my right wing, so I just held the course and slid between. Those rocks were real close together down low. I doubt that Potty expected the overcast to be so low that the rocks would be up into the clouds and that I would encounter them much lower where the rocks are much closer together. It was a thrill that really got my attention.
3. ANXIOUS MOMENTS FLIGHTS: (fill in details)
A. Gas to float down Yangsti to Hong Kong. Drums "pop" on climb- Jet Stream!
B. Two bad experiences with new Sulfa medicine
1. Sulfa Drug and trip
2. Calcutta and sleep pills "Phenobarbital"
3. Blind Spots
c. Nighttime TSTMS - Dark hole St. Elmo's fire - wing tips, prop tips, hands on windshield.
Dropping Rice in mountainous jungles on Burma Road
The original Burma Road began at the railhead in northeastern Burma at Lashio, some 125 miles north east of the old city of Mandalay. It bridged some phenomenal gorges of the Salween and Mekong Rivers as it continued on into Kunming China. When the Japanese advanced up the Irrawadda River and on past Mandalay some 125 miles north to Myitkyina, they completely cut the Burma Road and effectively isolated Nationalist China by land. They established a fighter base at Myitkyina to patrol the balance of the Burmese valley, which was our only flight path into China. Never the less the U.S. Corps of Engineers began desperately forging a bypass to the old Burma Road across this northern Burmese jungle valley north of Myitkyina from the railhead in north eastern India at Ledo over a mountain pass between India and the Burmese jungle even though the jungle was patrolled by Japanese from Myitkyina. The road construction was harassed by these jungle patrols and our flight path by the Japanese air patrols.
The Corps of Engineers furnished the expertise and heavy equipment working around the clock 7 days a week, China furnished laborers. The Corps of Engineers was supplied by road from India but the Chinese wanted Chinese rice. Now somebody must supply this Chinese rice for these laborers and find a way to deliver it. There was no such thing as a landing strip in these jungle mountain passes, so rice must be dropped from flying aircraft. CNAC was elected.
The rice was loosely packed in what appeared to be about 60 Pounds in 100-pound bags. Packing was very loose much like those old beanbags we used to throw around that would not burst no matter how hard thrown. The drop sites were secretly marked just before dawn as the Japanese jungle fighters were hungry for rice also.
I seemed to get more than my share of these rice drops especially after it was rumored that some of the pilots dropped from 16,000 feet a safe mountain altitude and a safe height from Japanese jungle small arms fire.. This would scatter the rice into the mountainous jungle surrounding the tiny clearings. Much must have been lost or landed so high in the trees as to be unreachable.
I got in early on the rice drops so there was no precedent experience. I never ask or knew how other pilots dropped. I just had my own method. I would maneuver around and about the drop site gradually descending until just before the drop run then I would set the mixture and props for maximum power with throttles back. I also lowered the landing gear to slow the aircraft for the drop to get the rice into the small postage stamp size clearings near the road construction.. Now just before reaching the drop site, I reached down and RAISED THE GEAR MYSELF. I did not want to risk any co-pilot in the excitement of the tight maneuvering in the pass to fail to raise it. Immediately after the drop all I had to do was to advance the throttles as I was already set-up for maximum climb out.
One day I had with me an American checking out as Captain. McCracken was a prince of a fellow, ex-professional baseball player very bright and extremely likable. I thought little of explaining my drop procedure and certainly he did not see what I did as his attention was intensely focused on the site and close mountain surroundings. And besides new Captains were never scheduled to drop rice. The road would be out of the pass into a nice big flat valley soon.
Shortly after checkout, he got a rice drop and crashed into a mountainside killing all aboard. Later I heard the chief pilot remark, "when they finally reached his plane, his gear was meshed down." I felt some responsibility for not explaining what I did to get the rice into those small clearings. I never dreamed he would be called on to drop rice so soon. I never mentioned this to anybody until more than 50 years had passed. I have always regretted that I did not carefully explain why I lowered then raised the gear to drop rice.
Later as the road dropped down into the flat Burmese valley, the clearing along side the road was much larger, probably a thousand feet or so on the side. It was a real easy drop.
One day as I passed over the site and dropped my first load, the field was deserted. On the second run people began to run out onto the field from the jungle from all sides. Although we tried to keep the drops secret, it is entirely possible that some of those running out were the Japanese jungle fighters who had been lurking near by and were anxious to get some of the rice.
After my second pass, the G.I. who had been shoving the several bags at a time out the door, came forward and with a guttural throaty voice said, " Well Capt'um you got one that time."
"What do you mean, I got one?"
"One of the bags hit one square in the back". As if it I could control where the bags fell.
At about 130 miles per hour, this probably broke every bone in his body. This may be another person whose life I have been responsible for. It's not a good feeling, so I can only hope he was one of the Japanese from out of the jungle.
C. TSTMS and Black Hole. St. Elmo's fire off wing tips, prop tips. Hand on windshield.
D. Following Japanese Bombers one night to Kunming
E. Water in the Japanese gas at Nanking
G. Engine for downed plane with Bob Prescott & the night we spent at Suifu.
E. Flight over Japanese Air Base at Myitkyina Zeros take out for me.
J. Aug1 - 9 8 days in Hospital in Kunming, 7 days CAL then 242 Hrs. in 32 days
K. Near Miss at Lekang 150 off.
: A. My last Flight. French Consulate on my plane "navigating" with crude map
No food for 24 hours
F. Aero-space museum in San Diego