Saturday, February 14, 2009

P-39K #42-4440

As I have mentioned before, Ephrata, Washington was home to the Ephrata Army Air Field. Numerous aircraft types were stationed there during World War II. I have already written about a couple B-17s from there. Ephrata was also home to a few fighter training squadrons. Many P-38s and P-39s flew from there.

On the morning of August 5, 1944, a flight of five P-39s, Flight 16, took off for some elementary formation flying. About thirty-three minutes of flight, the formation was at 7500 feet and the flight leader began a turn. F/O Robert Parcher*, in ship #55, was on the lead's left wing. On his wing were two other ships. On the lead's right was only one ship. As the flight began a left turn, F/O Parcher's P-39 slid across the formation to the right. The lead was informed of the odd behavior and they followed the turn around until they could reacquire the wayward aircraft. As they came back around they observed a splash in the nearby Columbia River, but no other sign of the missing aircraft.

#42-4440 had only 428 hours on it. It's engine only had 98 hours on it. The ship, itself, had been through it's last 50 hour inspection on July 30. The only problem experience had to do with the magnetos. On the left magneto the engine cut out, on the right mgneto only the engine lost 300 r.p.m. After the maintenance, it was released for flight. The conditions on August 5th were Ceiling and Visibilty Unlimited, or CAVU.

The formation flew over the growng oil slick then headed back to base. The site was later dragged and some parts were recovered, though not enough to give a definite cause of the accident. F/O Parcher's body was recovered.
The location is written as 10 North West of Peach, Washington. It is not obvios where that place is, but the report also listed some vague coordinates. From those, it indicates the sight is near the Columbia river.

The cause was undetermined, though, it is likely all of us have suspicions. One might suspect engine failure. Others might suspect some sort of control malfunction. Still others might suspect the helth of the pilot. Still, there appears to be no evidence of any over others. The best evidence appears to favor an engine failure, but why was there no apparent attempt to leave the aircraft if the pilot was unable to start the engine again? The other members of the flight said there was no sign of smoke. He simply broke formation and made a shallow dive until the airplne struck the river.

* Note: F/O appears to be the Royal Air Force rank of Flying Officer. This is just a guess, and any clarification anyone might be able to add would be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Navy Ship Aground, Honolulu

So, someone is going to lose out on promotions....I only post this because the Port Royal(CG-73) is a sister ship of the one I had such a difficult time identifying at Bremerton. And because...well, avy ships don't ground often so when they do it's news. There have been some notable ones, too. For instance the USS Missouri in the 1950s(?). I got this story from Charter News.

Navy warship runs aground near Honolulu airportSaturday, February 7, 2009 5:04 AM EST The Associated Press
The Navy hopes a high tide due to reach Hawaii early Saturday will enable it to refloat a 9,600-ton warship that ran aground about a half mile off seaside Honolulu International Airport.
An initial effort by Navy tugs early Friday to free the guided missile cruiser USS Port Royal was unsuccessful. The $1 billion ship ran aground Thursday night while carrying guests that included a rear admiral.
"We're certainly working on bringing to bear the resources we have to move her off the current position. We're still putting that plan together," said Capt. W. Scott Gureck, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet. "Obviously, the high tide gives us an opportunity to do that."
Divers and the salvage ship USS Salvor would try to tow the 567-foot vessel, the Navy said.
The cause of the grounding on the sandy bottom and the extent of damage to the vessel were under investigation.
"I'm not going to speculate on what happened," Gureck said.
The Port Royal left Pearl Harbor on Thursday for sea trials after being dry-docked for routine maintenance. The ship ran aground while shore-based officials were being transferred to shore by small boat, the Navy said.
An oil recovery vessel, the Clean Islands, was positioned behind the warship as a precaution as the U.S. Coast Guard monitored the situation.
"We know that there is no oil spill at this point, and we're confident the Navy is doing everything it can," Coast Guard Lt. John Titchen said.
Commissioned in 1994, the Port Royal has a crew of about 360. The crew stayed aboard the ship, along with Navy officials such as Rear Adm. Dixon R. Smith, commander Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Admiral Keating

Admiral Keating was an excellent speaker. The funny thing is, I found his picture in the Kitty Hawk Cruisebook that I bought on E-Bay last year.

It turns out there were over 2000 people at the decommissioning ceremony! I found that out at the Kitty Hawk site.

Here is the Kitty Hawk site.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Odd Shots

So, over the weekend, I went to Bremerton and visited the Puget Sound Naval Ship Yard. Whilst there, we attended the decommissioning ceremony of the Kitty Hawk. I also took a few pictures of ships tht were also there. There is no where ner as many ships there as there were 10 years ago, but the ones that are there are bigger.

Four super carriers and an *EDIT* Oliver Hazard Perry class ship. I don't know which one it is, though. It may be the USS Sides.*EDIT* I was wrong. I should have recognized that this was NOT an Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate. This is a Cruiser. It appears to be of the Ticonderoga class, though I do not know which flight. I hope an observant reader will help me ID this ship! further research indicates it MAY be the USS Vincennes.

Click on the next photo nd you can see the bow of the USS Long Beach. CGN-9. Her superstructure has been stripped, but her hull remains.

The next is AS-39, the USS Emory S. Land. She is a submarine I imagine there are a couple subs on the other side of her. Wish I had had the guts to wander down there, but the fear of encarceration due to curiosity was only slightly outweighed by my fear of my wife. So, I stuck to the path between our vehicle and Kitty Hawk.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Exit Beautiful Miss Kitty...

On the mornig of January 31, 2009, I stood on the pier and looked at the beautiful Miss Kitty and bid her good bye.
She was set for decommissioning. Dolled up in colorful ribbons and bows. Her best jewelery shining.

She awaited a throng of people. All come to bid her fairwell. She never looked better.

We had never met before, though I had met one of her sisters. I must say, I was proud to make her aquaintance.

She gazed down upon me, but bid me welcome.
It was a fascinating day for me. She stood, apparently ready for battle, despite the absence of her air groups. Her sailors were serious. While they were not apparently unhappy, they were somber. Proud. I was impressed. With men and women such as these manning the line, we have nothing to fear. Should death and destruction ever be required, these men and women will be ready to deliver it to our enemies.

Her sailors stood at attention, awaiting honored visitors.

It began with a 17 gun salute. Two ceremonial guns graced a sponson, they fired whilst we were on the hangar deck. It was my first decommissioning. There were a few speakers. One of them was the mayor of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. My favorite was Admiral Keating, although Captain Zecchin was entertaining as well. Here is Admiral Keating as he relates a story to the audience.

Before she was decommissioned, though, she was presented the Meritorious Unit Commendation. That flag was raised upon an representative yardarm on the flightdeck before she was placed out of commission.

After the ceremony, we were offered refreshments. I did not partake, but I did take photos of all the stuff they put on display.

One of the best was the ice sculpture of the Wright Flier.

Another was a huge cake...wish I had gotten a better picture, now...

Here you see a few items that were on display. that is an arrester cable on the bottom.

She flew the First Naval Jack. Here is my family in front of it. (many thanks to the sailor woman that took it, she was familiar with cameras and their operation, most impressive!)

See, I am happy to be there!

My wife and I, in front of the Island.

Her stern...
A 3/4 view

Four sisters... CV-61, CV-62, CV-63, CV-64. Remeniscent of the 1980s and the Essex class that resided there for so long...except, these ships are trully large!


These ships are AWE INSPIRING!!
Thank you Kitty for your years of service!