Dick Hunt's Blog

February 9, 2013

A Pilot Who Was Dogged By Mistakes.

Filed under: Current — Tags: , — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 3:38 pm

A Pilot Who Was Dogged By Mistakes.
by Dick Hunt, February, 9th, 2013.

During my 19 months at a R.C.A.F base off the coast of B.C. during the 39 – 45 war, there were a number of Pilot caused air problems, all brought about by one pilot. Two were minor. One was somewhat more serious. The fourth smashed a large Canso Flying Boat to be utterly demolished and resulted in one death. That one ended his flying career.

The first came about because the Pilot was flying the Flying Boat at very low altitude, skipping around the little bays without being able to see what was just around the headlands. He saw too late that there was a fishing boat directly in his path and he took the pilot house and fishing gear off the craft and greatly endangered the fisherman. The second was similar. He was flying around the Island, very close to the land and very near the water, when he failed to see that the Station Commander’s dwelling was right beside him and with the Starboard wing float, removed the entire clothes line and the Monday wash, taking the laundry with him. He was of course, easily identifable as the culprit in both cases.

The third event also happened very close to the land, adjacent to the “slipway” where we beached the Aircraft. In this one, he was again very close to the land, landed with the Hull right on an exposed reef, tearing a large hole in the aluminum hull and immediately stopping the forward motion. In that one, I was assigned with a crew to stuff mattresses in the large hole, and sit on them, then with all hands, manually pump the water out, while a crash boat with full throttles wrenched the plane loose and to the slipway and then divers affixed beaching gear and a tractor pulled the plane up the slipway.

We who knew the pilot’s history thought that he would never fly again; the first three were in a 13 ton flying boat named Stranraer Flying Boat, a plane named after a town in Scotland of the same name.The fourth and last was in a Canso Flying Boat with the wing and two engines on top of the Hull. The wing was 102 feet long. The pilot and his crew of nine had just taken off on a 12 hour North Pacific Patrol, flying down a clear channel between two Islands when he swung to starboard and climbed steeply up the side of the mountain with too little clearance. The starboard wing hit a tall tree just at the position of the engine, tearing off the engine and wing, rupturing the full fuel tank and carrying away the left gun blister and the Air Gunner. It also carried away the Aircraft Mechanic who was burned to death in the burning fuel that seared the mountaintop. He was to have left the next day to be married in Ontario. The hull bounced down the mountain some distance and came to a sudden stop against a large tree on the very edge of a cliff. There was a flash fire in the forward hull and the other crew members went quickly out of the escape hatch and one by one tumbled down the cliff. The one least hurt was the air gunner who was carried away with his gun blister and tumbled down the slope. He made his way down a stream bed to the sea and hailed a fishing boat who’s skipper radioed for help. It took us two weeks with a big crew to salvage the mess, carrying all the things we could save on our backs. I recall trying to make my way across a gully on a single log with 80 pounds of salvage on my back when I lost my balance and fell on my back in the water. A brand new Pilot Officer ordered me to jump up and salute him. I laughed and he spluttered. A senior officer seeing us, ordered the new young officer down into the muck to rescue me. That stopped the pilot’s career.

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