ROBERT W. POTTSCHMIDT (1911-1987)
(1936 - 1949)
(Captain - 1936)
(Hump Flights - 520)
In the 1943-45 log book of Don McBride, Richard gave his address as:
The following letter is from Bob Pottschmidt, Jr., about his Dad.
(Unfortunately Bob, Jr. passed away in July of 2002.)
"August 17th, 2000
P.O. Box 1896
Vashon, WA 98070
Dear Mr. Moore:
My father passed away suddenly in July of 1987. My father was an avid photographer and there are literally several hundreds, if not a thousand or more, black & white photographs and color slides of this unique era of aviation, that I still have. You are welcome to have access to this material. This will not be possible until after Jan. of next year. I fly as a bush surveyor in the Salt Lake area and will be very occupied with this until that time. My brother Louis is a retired helicopter pilot with 10,000 plus rotary wing time -- ex-Vietnam and until recently fire fighting etc.
Brief bio of my father is as follows: born Cincinnati on Feb 24, 1911; attended Miami University, graduated Boeing Flying School Oakland, CA 1934-35, worked as radio operator, Portland, OR for $.50 per hr.!; went to China 1936 (may have been earlier) all expenses paid! and salary; quite a windfall for the Depression era. Started out flying Stinsons for CNAC; left China 1949 after the Chinese Revolution of which he was in support of. He was actually requested by the new Chinese government to remain in China. But I believe the US State Department nixed this idea. Flew in Indonesia under contract from 1950-1955 as a flight instructor and test pilot for the maintenance facility in Bandung. During the war I believe he was for a time the chief check pilot for CNAC. My fathers flight hours in China were as follows:
DC-3/C-47, 9,000+ hours
C-46 Curtiss Commando, 2,500 hours
C-54 (Military version of DC4), 950 hours
He flew 260 round trips over the Hump. He believed there were only two other pilots that exceeded that record -- Robert C. "Moose" Moss was one of them. He retired from commercial flying in 1955, age 44, with 15,000+ flying hours -- all of it in China or the Far East, except for his initial training. I attribute my father's survival as a pilot in China to his ability in mathematics and navigation. He retired as an actuary and pursued a career in this the last ten years of his life. He said in his interment let downs into Hong Kong he could pre(?) compute his celestial sights. Weather and cursory instrument(?) navigation were what killed almost all of the flight crews in China. "Foxy" Kent was the only CNAC Captain killed by the Japanese (strafed on the ground). One aircraft was shot down by the Japanese with high loss of passenger life (14 I believe) but not to the Captain. The Army Air force in 2 1/2 years of operation in the CBI Theater lost 593 aircraft and portions of their flight crews! CNAC's safety record in China was far superior to the U.S. military's.
I will close for now. There are other extensive documents besides the pictures -- newspaper clippings, etc. "Moon" Chin, Higgs, Royal Leonard, Kusak, Sharp, Allison, Foxy Kent all figure prominently in my father's personal photographs (also Hal Sweet).
A message phone for me is (206)463-4570.
Yours Bob Pottschmidt, Jr.
Unfortunately all of my fathers flight log books were stolen -- put to good use to falsify flight time for some job applicant. Like J.E.B. Stuarts spurs.(?) they have disappeared from history.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: On August 18th, 2000, I received the following FAX from Bob updating some of the material in the above letter.)
1. My father's flight time in C-54's may not be as high as 950 hrs. In the effort to be modest I will put it at 400 hrs. I do have actual documentation somewhere. The Hump trips of DC-3/C-47 time, and C-46 time are accurate.
2. In a cursory reading of Bill Leary's "The Dragon's Wings" there appear to be more than "several" incidents of aircraft loss due to Japanese air attacks. In fact I have the original newspaper articles.
3. My father did go to China in 1936.
Bob Pottschmidt, Jr."
Jeanne Holder, the niece of Frank Higgs, provided the following newspaper clippings and group photo.
Calcutta - 1943
left to right
Jim Shaffer, Jack Blackkmore (?), Bob Pottschmidt, Dickie Stratford, Marge Shafer, Unknown,
Frank Higgs, Nagholds (probably Nasholds), Diana Barrington Menzies (Mrs. Higgs to be)
We need help to make positive identifications from YOU!
Now, let's see those faces a little closer.
If you would like to read Bob's story in his own words click HERE.
Robert Pottschmidt (left) with Bob Rengo at a reunion (198?)
(Photo Courtesy of Carey Bowles)
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