447840420 Hrs. 40 Min. — Chapter VIAmelia Earhart



TWICE, when the weather eastward seemed right, we tried to take off. And twice we failed because of too much fog or too little wind.

Three thirty!

Another day. Another start. Would it flatten out into failure like its predecessors?

Out of the hotel we trooped in the greyness of before-dawn. Another breakfast at an all-night eating place—Stultz and his wife, Gordon, his fiancée, Mrs. Layman, Lou and Mrs. Gower, Commander and Mrs. Elmer, George Palmer Putnam, "Jake" Coolidge, and a few others. An hour earlier the sandwiches had been made, the patient big thermos bottle again filled with coffee for the boys, the little one with cocoa for me.

We drove through deserted streets to T Wharf and at once boarded the tugboat Sadie Ross. The plane, as before, lay moored off the Jeffrey Yacht Club in East Boston. Stultz, Gordon, Gower, and I climbed in. We said no "good-byes"—too many of them already, and too little going!

Slim uncovered the motors. Bill tinkered a bit with his radio and in the cockpit. Slim dropped down from the fuselage to the starboard pontoon, hopped over to the other, and cranked the port motor. Soon all three were turning over and Friendship taxied down the harbor, with the tug, carrying our friends, trailing us.

And then, suddenly, the adventure began—the dream became actuality.

We were off!

But let me tell the story here as I wrote it that very morning, in the little notebook that went with me across the Atlantic. Here is that record, exactly as it was set down (often none too legibly!) in my log book, penciled as we in the Friendship flew northeastward, with Boston behind and Newfoundland ahead:


Log Book:

7 o'clock, June 3. Slim has the controls and Bill is tuning in. He has been getting our position. I squat on the floor next the m.p. [motion picture] camera with my feet on a dunnage bag. There is one man's shoe in the passageway between the gas tanks. It looks odd, but no one cares about its out-of-placeness.

We are flying at about 2,000 feet. There is a light haze and the ocean is smooth, with little color. From a height it looks quiet, almost like ice with flecks in it.

Boston is lost to view and has been for minutes. I tried to get a picture of the tugboats and harbor as we left, but just before starting the spring lock of the cabin door broke off, and I had to hold the door shut until Slim could get back to repair it. It was at first anchored to a gasoline can, but I saw the can being slowly pulled out, so anchored myself to it instead.

**** So, a few minutes after the take-off we nearly lost two of our crew. That would have been a jolly beginning! Actually Slim came within inches of falling out when the door suddenly slid open. And when I dived for that gasoline can, edging towards the opening door, I, too, had a narrow escape. However, a string tied through the leather thong in the door itself and fastened to a brace inside the cabin held it shut fairly securely. ****

Log Book:

The take-off was an eventful period. The wind was fair and the water slightly ruffled. When we started from the tug the sun was just coming over the rim of the harbor. A few dawn clouds hung about in the pink glow. The camera men and small group who came to see the departure were in a happy mood. For the third time they had assembled. Twice before the weather had prevented a getaway. The rehearsals had made all familiar with the process of arising at 3:30 and boarding a tug at 4:30 for a "fishing trip." Twice the thermos bottles had been filled and dumped and twice sandwiches had been replaced. This morning the whole thing was an old act. There were not so many present, as I had told the four friends of mine who knew of the flight, not to come. I didn't fancy another farewell and return a short while later. However, when we got out into the harbor, a small launch came chugging up and in it were my banished friends.

We were taxiing along toward open water and wind. A few craft were stirring, but Sunday morning does not bring out the usual activity. Before, in trying to get off we passed many small fishing dories and even had to avoid the New York boat which was just coming in.

This time all I could see was the silhouette



into the space just aft of the cockpit usually occupied by passengers.

There was room between these tanks to squeeze through. Fortunately the physical architecture of all three members of the Friendship's crew was distinctly Gothic. But even at that the two boys had to turn sidewise to get through, while I, most Gothic of all, could contrive a straight-away entrance. It was between these two tanks that I spent many hours of the voyage, because into this space there wafted back some of the warmth from the heater in the cockpit. The after part of the cabin was unheated and often reached uncomfortably low temperatures.

In addition to the gas carried in the wing and these supplementary tanks, we had on board a limited amount in five-gallon tins. This was not only a supplementary supply, but was carried in this form for quick dumping in case of emergency. It was advantageous, too, to have the weight distributed well astern. In taking off, all of us, except Bill, crowded as far aft as we could.


Log Book:

Mr. Gower came back into the hold in order to force the nose up as far as possible. To no avail.


Lou Gower is an expert pilot, with much big-ship experience, who had been retained as a sort of understudy for Stultz in case of sickness or accident. It was hoped he could go as far as Trepassey, there to share the work of the two men who actually would carry through on the Atlantic flight.


Log Book:

As Bill turned the ship's nose around, Gower began pulling his flying suit from the bag. His shoes and a small personal package were all he had in addition. Slim called for a boat from the tug and G. bade us adieu very quietly. I didn't want him to go, but of course realized he was the only one to leave and a sacrifice of something was necessary to be able to get off. He is a dependable person, a true sport who appreciates a situation very quickly, and an excellent pilot. As soon as the little boat came from the tug with R. E. and G. P. P. aboard, Gower left us.

For the first time then I felt the Friendship really lighten on the water and knew the difference of a few pounds had made her a bird.

67 seconds to get off. We bank, swoop down and with gathering speed zoom over the tug. I hope the cameras [those on the tug] registered, for the ship looks beautiful in flight.


All that was written in the first part of the journey after leaving Boston. It was less than an hour out when the next entry in the diary is recorded.


Log Book:

I can see fifteen little fishing vessels. Probably they can't see each other.

96 miles out (1 hour). 7:30. 2500 ft. Bill shows me on the map that we are near Cash's Ledge. We cannot see anything (if there is anything to see), as the haze makes visibility poor. The sun is blinding in the cockpit and will be, for a couple of hours. Bill is crouching by the hatchway, taking sights.


The drift indicator was on the floor by the hatchway which had to be opened each time speed and drift calculations were made.


Log Book:

Hooray! Nova Scotia at 8:55. Fear Island. We are flying at 2000. I can look down and see many white gulls flying over the green land. A few houses are clustered together, and a dory is pulled up on the shore. There is a rocky ledge around the islands which makes a ruffle. They look very flat and the trees are foreshortened.

We are making good time with the wind's help.

I have in my ears some little rubber ear stops which Mrs. Byrd sent. She said Commander B. had used them in his trans-Atlantic flight, and was the only one who could hear when the plane reached the other side. I am eager to see whether they work, as both the men are without them.

Pubnico Harbor is below. Bill figures 114 m.p.h. since we left Boston.

What a jagged coast. There are few roads. Many little houses nestle in the woods seemingly out of communication with anything for miles.

One can see deeply into the water and mark shoals and currents. What an easy way to see what are bugaboos for surface craft. The haze is not so marked now and the wind is rougher. This ship flies smoothly, but I know a smaller one would be tossed about.

The color of the sand about the edges of the water differs; some is white, some rusty. I cannot see any breakers, except far out—the sea is calm with sparking ripples.

Our shadow skims over the treetops. The people whom I cannot see are probably used to the sight and sound of strange planes.


During the last two years this remote country has had many visitors from the air. These people, I think, have come to feel a real intimacy with the flyers. There have been Lindbergh and Byrd, de Pinedo, Mrs. Grayson, possibly Old Glory, and in the old days, the N. C. 4's, disregarding the incidental flights which doubtless have winged over this territory.


Log Book:

What makes people live on little jets of land like this one?

White, white sand and curving wrinkled water, windswept and barren.

I have changed my seat to a gas can, one of the two saved this morning.

A green mottled shore line comes into view. We are running into clouds and haze again. The former are scudding fast, but we outdistance them.

The motors are humming sweetly.


Continued. I have dozed off and awake to find us flying at 2000 above a sea of fog. The wind is rough and Bill is shutting off the motors. I suppose we shall go down through it to see where we are. As far as one can see there are swirls of white cloud.

Oh, the weather! The sun is shining above here, but the haze is becoming greater. We are now about 500 feet over the water. Land is to our left.

Since I wrote the last we have circled the harbor of Halifax twice and slipped to a landing. Bill went 30 miles beyond and found fog to the treetops, so came back to the clearing here. The natives are swarming to the shore and several dories are coming out.

Bill and Slim are going over to the land to get reports with the hope we can go on later. I am to stay aboard now, as we all are, later, if there is chance of continuing.

The mournful sound of the fog horn disturbs my peace and hope. I hardly think we could take off here even without fog, as there is no wind at all. Well, anyway, I'd rather visit Halifax this way than any other I can think of.

An orange, carefully provided by G. P. P., tastes good. 'Tis my first food.

Bill and Slim have returned with news of rain and clouds ahead.

A light wind is springing up which may help the situation.

We are half-way to Trepassey. The coastline will help us in navigating for a while unless the fog cuts off the view.

Bill says he'll try to make T., so Slim is cranking up. A broken primer is found, but we start without soldering it, as time is precious. We have already lost an hour by change of time.

The fog and clouds look pretty bad. The Flight Sergeant at Halifax says we may return, and we agree. Bill says the Newfoundland coast is bad enough, but in a fog won't be tried.

We are flying blind on the right side, but can see a little on the left. Probably rain ahead.

I tried to take a m. p. of our leaving Halifax. I had to take it through the glass, and don't imagine it will be worth much.

Time of leaving H. about 2:30.

Slim comes back to pump gas into the right tank from the small cans.

The Friendship in flight


© International Newsreel


We are turning back. The fog spreads out ahead of us like a great fuzz.

Into the clear again. What luck to have the fog block us!

Bill slips her into Halifax for a perfect landing just behind a Canadian Fairchild pontoon job. The Flight Sergeant comes over and helps to anchor her. After consultation we invite him in and put the situation of my retiring disposition before him.


When we were forced down in Halifax our difficulties of maintaining secrecy increased. Publicity, we feared, was probably unescapable. But at all events, escape seemed worth an effort. And especially, so far as possible, we thought it wise to conceal the presence of a woman on the Friendship. The Sergeant had the surprise of his life when he came aboard the plane to look over the equipment and found me part of it.


Log Book:

He thinks a government official will take me in while the boys go to a hotel. Consequently I stay on the plane while the others go back to find out. They'll pick me up later.

In the meantime a ham sandwich is food. I don't dare take pictures lest the people see I am present.

The plane rides at her moorings and the waves of passing launches knock the pontoons with hammer blows. Water is very hard.

At last the gang comes for me. It is decided to go to a small hotel in Dartmouth. It is Sunday, and Orchard Day, besides being the King's birthday. Consequently, no one much is at home. We have difficulty finding the proprietor of the hotel even. He has no rooms in the main building and we are shown to the Annex. It is very informal. The key hangs behind the door for all who know where to find it. A strange billiard table rests in the main hall. Our rooms are on the third floor.

This country would be grand for camping. Real solitude with lovely little lakes and bays. The pine trees don't look attractive as landing fields, but do for outings. Slim says in this connection that he was glad of pontoons for the first time, as he looked over the landscape.

12 P. M. Two reporters and camera men are in the next room trying to persuade Stultz and G. to dress and have a flashlight picture taken. I am displeased with their thoughtlessness in keeping the men (Bill and Slim) awake. I don't know whether the newspaper men know I am here so I am not shouting my sentiments.

It is now 9:45. We are out of Halifax about 15 minutes. The take-off took one minute in a perfectly calm sea. We loaded 100 gals. of gas after we had waited since about 7 A.M. until 9 for its arrival. Any other day in the year, I suppose, would have been better to get it. I wandered around and looked over the station, stopping a few minutes in what I was told was Commander Byrd's home when he was in charge of the station during the war. Major Harrup is there now and while the station is not active just now, is going to be soon, with several seaplanes assigned to it.

We had many encounters with newspaper men this morning. We were called at 5:30, and the hotel served us a little after six—unusual service for a holiday. Slim is feeling ill still, but managed to eat something. We had two pictures taken before breakfast; interviews at, and pictures and interviews afterward. When we arrived at the station we met more camera men and reporters.

We went over to the plane in the tug which carried the gas. I chatted with the men who handled it and was assured that rubbing gas and oil on one's hair made it grow and was good for it every day. We spilled some fuel on the water and I thought of the accident to De Pinedo's ship caused by throwing a cigarette on the water afterward.

The air is exceedingly rough today. We are flying at 2000. The land which was covered with fog yesterday is sparklingly clear today. The sea is beautifully blue and there are a few light clouds.

We have a sheaf of Halifax newspapers with strange assertions about us all. They will make strange reading matter if we ever have opportunity to re-read them.

Bill is trying to get some one to answer his signals. He can hear others and apparently can send. The radio man at Halifax said he'd listen and answer.

We are flying along the coast. The water appears shallow, as I can see the bottom in many places. A flock of birds rise from the water at our shadow. They resemble in movement and shape the spreading out of the little stars in a skyrocket.

The inhabitants who come to look at us wear red shirts or skirts. Red seems to be a favorite rural color. Cows and horses don't like us.

What cruel rocks these ledges are. Sharp and narrow, they look like sharks.

I move to sit on a gas can by the window. What a comfortable passenger plane this would be with the gas tanks removed and windows made in the sides. There is a small steamer to the right. I wonder if she knows who we are. I wonder if we know.


There is more sea than land now and we fly at 1800.

In a way, I am glad of the stop at Halifax, for I always think it better for a motor to run gradually to long grinds.

We can see a haze. Reports last night said 200 miles of fog. I hope all 200 miles of it have gone away. (Temperature outside: 52°.Inside 58°.

Bill shows me where we are. 11:55 and the plane is off Cape Canso. He is trying radio again and has hooked up the other set.

The wind is steadier over the sea.

Slim comes back for a sandwich. We seem to have endless ham sandwiches. Coffee and cocoa will be taken on at Trepassey and a few fresh things.

**** This plethora of ham sandwiches, it developed, was our own fault. We simply didn't explore far enough. Three generous lunches had been prepared for us by the Copley Plaza Hotel, arranged for a "fishing trip." The tactical error was putting all the ham sandwiches on the top layer. We never got beyond them. Later, to our chagrin, we discovered that below there were similar layers of delicious chicken and tongue sandwiches, hard boiled eggs and much beside. We never had the courage to determine exactly what else there might have been.

The gastronomic adventures of trans-oceanic flying really deserve a record of their own. Our own highlights were varied. Ham sandwiches seemed to predominate en route. At Trepassey it was canned rabbit, in London the desserts were strawberries, and home again in America chicken appeared invariably on all state occasions.


Log Book:

Bill has been flying. G. now has controls. The sea looks like the back of an elephant, the same kind of wrinkles.

Nothing but blue sea. A low rim of fog far to the right.

Hooray! Bill has picked up a station. 12:15. He is taking something.

We are flying at 3200 ft. Temperature down to 53° inside.

The fog bank is nearer and looks pretty thick. It shadows the water. We are nosing down and the air is rougher. The motors are racing, and the a.s.i. [air speed indicator] registers 100 m.p.h. It has been about 86.

12:50. Newfoundland sighted to the left. More fog to the rt. than in direction we wish. I notice the motors synchronize every five seconds at the speed they are running.

Change of time 2:00 P.M. Bill says we are making in actual speed 115 m.p.h.

2:20. A steamer sighted to the left. We are too far from it for me to take a picture. Anyway we are running with considerable haze.

2:35. We have left the sun behind and are just under a bank of clouds. Alt. 3000.

St. Mary's Bay in sight. 2:50. Visibility better. Clear toward sea. The fog hangs in white curly masses over the land.

We are near Trepassey. What is in store for us?


We had expected a pretty routine landing and so I crawled into the cockpit to take pictures of the reception committee. But as a matter of fact Friendship's arrival resembled a rodeo. At once a dozen small boats began to circle madly about us, the local motto seeming to be that the

© P. & A Photos



early boat catches the plane. It happened that we had arranged for a mooring of our own to which we wished to be directed. But each local optimist felt that if he contrived to get us in tow first he could take the prize to his own mooring and reap appropriate reward.

Poised in the bows of the launches each maritime cowboy whirled aloft a coil of rope, attempting to cast it at us. Slim, out on the pontoon, was doing his best to keep clear and yelled frantically to ward them off. The noise of the idling motors, augmented by the racket of the small boats, made hearing difficult. I was convulsed with laughter. In the cockpit, Bill, I fear, was talking to God about it. What concerned him most was the risk of ropes becoming entangled in the propellers, and especially the danger to the visitors themselves in getting too close to whirling props. At the height of the excitement enthusiasm completely overcame one would-be welcomer. He hurled his rope and landed a bull's eye on Slim, nearly knocking him into the water. Fortunately I couldn't hear what Slim said; at best his enthusiasm for marine affairs was never notable.

The tempo of the maritime merry-go-round was extraordinary. Truly, I've never had a more entertaining half hour.

Finally we contrived to get the thought across that the most we wanted was to be guided to our own mooring, which we could reach under our own power. Andy Fulgoni, Paramount camera man, finally caught the idea and circling around in his own launch contrived to clear the way for us. In due course, Bill sailed to the mooring and made fast.