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Rob F. Sanderson

           Bob tells of a navigator in the Pacific who passed his position report as being, “six miles east of Tuesday” as he approached the International Date Line.

           Bob tells of flying with R/O Herbie Stiles in South America. One early morning while still on the ground at Quito, Bob heard Herbie clacking away feverishly on the radio. When it was all over Bob asked what it was all about. Herb said he had heard a buddy of his on a Pan Am 314 taxiing out of La Guardia on Long Island Sound.

           Herbie claimed the flying boats used to get very warm inside during the summer time while making a long taxi out. The crew used to strip to their shorts to keep cool. On take-off the crew would advance #1, #2 and #3 throttles first and bring up #4 as they got rudder control. To open all four engines at once would cause the airplane to veer left from engine torque before they could get on the step and obtain rudder control.

           While based in Cairo a purser named Jonah was called for passing bad checks. It turned out Jonah had been furloughed and notice sent to his box at La Guardia; the company not being aware he had been assigned to Cairo. All ended happily when Jonah was reinstated and received his back pay.

           Most memorable flight for Bob was 16 hours 42 minutes in a DC-4 with Joe Kelley from Shannon westbound to Gander. Both Gander and Stephenville closed, as did the whole Maritimes. Bob got a rare look at the Straits of Belle Isle enroute to Goose Bay, which he could not pick up on the ADF until slightly more than an hour out. From the last fix, 4 ½ hours east of Gander, he averaged 92 knots ground speed to Gander. He was on the bottom of a tightly ratcheted low spinning SE from the Davis Straits. Half way across the pond they were less than ten minutes behind flight plan.

           Bob Sanderson’s last flight on a four-engine tail dragger was from Casablanca to the Canary Islands in an old French Languedoc. The pilot invited Bob forward and let him fly for about an hour and a half while the captain; the first officer and hostess played a three-handed card game on the radio operator’s table. There was no R/O aboard.

           One time when doodling around thinking of cashing longitude and latitude liens across the sky, Bob composed an epitaph appropriate for an airman:

           “He steered sleep hobby horses swiftly
          Across vast racetracks in the sky
          Pacing other distant riders, yet…
          The planets passed them by.”

© 2003 Chronicles of Bob