Logo from a painting by Robert Morris

From an e-mail letter sent to Earl Beach by a Senior Pilot named Paul.


Hi Earl: This was what I called a “Moment of Silence” in my lifetime.
When all four engines quit at the same time. Paul Baker

CREW # 5
I wish I could give you all my crew’s names, but all my navy records were destroyed in our flood. I think my Plane Captain was Garton, my Radioman was Tom Gibbons. Maybe Loren Gates could give you a few of their names. Thanks Earl.

Now it comes to one of the times, like I have always said “THERE HAD TO BE
SOMEONE UP ABOVE WHO WAS LOOKING OUT FOR ME”. Forty years of flying and the situations I got into… I must have had some help from some place, any

Now we come to Typhoon HESTER. It was just a day or two after Xmas [December 29, 1952] and I was assigned to fly a weather reconnaissance flight. Normal procedure was to go to the squadron area about four in the morning, meet your crew, plan your flight and depart on a twelve or fifteen hour flight. I arrived at the squadron area and no one was there. I woke up a Mad Squadron Duty Officer to find out what was going on. He informed me that my flight had been canceled and my copilot, Lt. Bob Zimmer had been notified, and he was to tell me. Needless to say he didn’t and I showed up for the flight. I stopped off at Bob’s house, but
could get any answer to my knocking on their door. I went home and went to bed. Around nine o’clock in the morning, the squadron duty officer arrives at my door and told me to get down to the squadron as I had a flight to do. Nothing more than that was said. I ate breakfast and
proceeded to the base. Upon arrival, I was informed that I was to take a flight to Kwajlein Island to fly Typhoon Hester the next day. I returned to our Quonset to get some gear to take along. I ran out of gas on the way home and had to call the Squadron Duty Officer to bring me some gas. Now when I do get to the squadron area, I find that I am taking my own plane, my enlisted crew, but I have a different pilot crew. I now have Lt. “Scotty” Jenkins, copilot, and Lt. Bud “Whiz” White as Navigator. [Whiz, was also the squadron navigation officer]. No one said not to fly a weather recon on the way to Kwajlein. Now it is late in the evening [night time] when we encounter a storm that turns out to be Typhoon Hester. It wasn’t supposed to be there. The Army Recon flight had it further South towards the equator, but we were in it. Now typhoon Hester was a cold, cold storm. I know as cold water was running off my canopy, onto the leg of my flight suit, and it was ice cold. I know what you are thinking and IT WAS RAIN WATER. At this time we are flying about 500 feet above the water in order to stay contact with the surface of the water. Scotty and I are both looking at the cylinder head temperatures as all four were leaving 180 degrees and heading for 80 degrees. As we were flying in auto lean on the carburetors, the engines quit running. ALL FOUR ENGINES QUIT RUNNING AT THE SAME TIME. YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD A MOMENT OF SILENCE LIKE THE QUIETNESS OF THE AIRCRAFT AT THAT TIME. NOT ONE WORD WAS SPOKEN. Scotty, immediately stripped the mixture controls back into the rich position, I flew the airplane. I mentally calculated we had one minute and twenty seconds before we hit the water. Needless to say we made it, as I am here to write my tail of woe. When Scotty got the engines back into the rich position, three of the engines were quickly coaxed back into a running status. Number four engine was a little more stubborn. It spit and backfired a few times before deciding to run.

Now with the excitement for the day over, we proceeded on towards Kwajlein Island.  After some passing of time, the radioman said he had a message from Kwajlein, wanting to know our ETA. [Estimated Time of Arrival]. I told the radioman to ask the navigator for that info, as his station was right next to him. I turned around from my seat up front and looked back down the aisle to see what was going on. Lt. White made the sign, like catching a fly, then opening his fingers to find that he didn’t catch anything. I called him on the intercom and asked him what was going on. His answer “We’re supposed to be there”. I ask him what winds he had been using, his answer “The forecast Winds”. Whereupon I told him to look out of his window. What he saw was water. “White with Foam”. His question was “How long has this been going on?” My answer “Ever Since We Hit the Storm”. His question, “Why didn’t you tell me?” My answer. “You have a window at your station, why didn’t you look out once in awhile?” As the storm had already knocked the Loran [Long Range Navigation] Stations out, there was no use to try to get a Loran Fix. We got a very strong ADF signal, but it was being sent several hundred miles away in Honolulu. By the time we picked it up, we would be in a very large area of not knowing where we were.

I asked my radioman, Tom Gibbons to find me an atoll, a very small island. The reason for this was that I knew my airplane’s auto pilot would slowly veer to the left, unless I made corrections. In doing this, I remembered that Kwajlein was on an island at the end of a long chain of islands to the Northwest. I figured that if we found an atoll, we would then turn south and follow the chain of islands. Well, as it turned out, radar found a few Thunder Bumpers before we did find a piece of land. We then followed the atolls on towards Kwajlein until we were within VHF range [Very High Frequency Radio Frequency]. We would broadcast, in the blind, until someone heard us, and then they could give us a heading to fly to reach the island. Kwajlein finally heard us, and gave us a heading. We arrived only one hour twelve minutes late. We were asked if I was worried about running out of fuel in all this Mickey Mousing around. My answer there was “No, not at that time, as I had taken off with sixteen hours fuel for an eight hour flight, so I could
have done what they call a Square Search, hoping to find the island that way, but we didn’t have to resort to that maneuver. I was always known to have extra fuel in my tanks, even when flying for Pan American Airways.

Okay, the next day we were to takeoff and go find the storm again. The
aircraft would not start, [NOTE: I never asked the plane captain, WHY, it wouldn’t start as he trusted me to fly the airplane, I trusted him to have the aircraft ready when we had to go.  We were the first aircraft to leave from Kwajalien for Guam on January 1, 1953 and was the first plane of VJ 1 back as they had all left the  island.

I received this from one of our senior pilots in VJ1 , like most of our pilots they where reserves called in during the Korea war. Paul Baker was flying for Pan Am and returned flying for them after his release from the navy. He ended up flying 747's . His eye sight is very bad he has some kind of device hooked thru his computer that allows him to read most mail on a wide screen TV. He has to be near 90 yrs. old now .Can't remember what he told me. Paul lives in mountains of Montana. Earl Beach

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