Philadelphia Enquirer, Tuesday morning, Sept. 25, 1962 – “Sunday night’s ditching of a Flying Tiger Constellation off the coast of Ireland was the first successful “controlled” water landing in the Atlantic by a U.S. scheduled airline since the carriers began to fly land-based transports over the route 16 years ago.
“There have been several ditchings in the Pacific, including an apparent one that cost the lives of all 36 passengers and a seven-man crew. Involved was a Pan American Word Airways Stratocruiser which disappeared Nov. 8, 1957, on a flight fro from San Francisco to Honolulu.
“Only a few bodies and very little wreckage were found. But the victims were wearing life jackets, indicting that there had been advance warning of trouble and a likely ditching attempt.
“The two most successful airliner ditchings also occured in the Pacific. The first was on Oct. 16, 1956, when Capt. Richard Ogg of Pan Am added a crippled stratocruiser in smooth water with not one of the 24 passengers and seven crewmembers even getting their feet wet.
“A Northwest Orient Airlines DC-7C with 58 passengers and a crew of seven ditched off Luzon in the Philippines July 14, 1960, There was only one fatality—an elderly woman passenger who died of shock and exposure.
“Ditching a large aircraft is regarded as one of the most difficult maneuvers in aviation. A plane hitting the water is exposed to greater shock forces than if it crashed on a cement runway.
“Most successful ditchings have taken place in relatively smooth water. Landing in choppy seas calls for the utmost skill. “
[Note to readers: A crewman on the Celerina, 19 year old Pierre-Andre Raymon, on the very same day of the ditching, Sep. 23, 1962, took film of the raging seas to show his family and friends. He did it with old Brownie 8 mm motion picture camera. To see what those seas looked like (and they got worse that day), click this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6wqjzs40EE&feature=g-upl . For information on the photograper and his filming that day, click this link:
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[We greatly appreciate the Philadelphia Enquirer for providing us with this interesting and unusual story by way of Mrs. Karen Eldred-Stephan who lives with her husband in central Germany. Karen sent us a number of newspaper articles collected by her father, Captain Robert C. Eldred (US Army Retired) who was a survivor. Her mother, Edna, died in the crash.]