By Alton K. Marsh
Scud running in 1928 was no safer than it is now. A pilot who tried it in a monster biplane called a Boeing 40C suffered a dramatic conclusion.
The Pacific Air Transport airplane, which flew passengers and the mail in an enclosed cabin while the pilot sat out in the breeze, clipped trees for a mile, slicing one and then another, until a mountain got in its the way near Canyonville, Ore. The single passenger died, and the cargo of diamonds scattered.
There it sat for 70 years until it was recovered by the Oregon Aviation Historical Society and sold to Addison Pemberton. Now, eight years later and with the help of 61 volunteers who had put in 18,000 hours, it’s flying again. It will make appearances at Blakesburg, Iowa, and at Oshkosh, Wis., this year before retracing an original airmail route from New York to San Francisco in September.
Back in 1928, a ticket just from San Francisco to Chicago cost $250, the equivalent of $12,000 today, so passengers represented the elite of society and flew in suits and dresses. The airplane would taxi into a hangar to unload and board.
Originally, the airplane went for $22,000 and had a 420-horsepower Pratt & Whitney 1340 engine with a TBO of 200 hours. Its new 525-hp Pratt & Whitney 1340 has a TBO of 1,600 hours.
February 28, 2008