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Treasure Hunt #1

Winner: Keith Douglas Craig of Pearl City, HI

Number of Correct Answers: 6, but only 5 delivered before contest closing

Answers were due by midnight, May 7, 2001

This week's prize:

One Hour of Dual Aerobatic Instruction in Cap 10 with Hank Bruckner
Every pilot can benefit from aerobatics, but only a few learn this essential art. Should you ever end up on your back, due to wake turbulence or any other reason, lessons learned in an aerobatic safety course could save your life. The average pilot will pull back when caught upside down, reaching speeds approaching or exceeding redline and losing thousands of feet. The acro pilot will likely roll the plane, adding top rudder to keep nose from falling and recovering with much less altitude loss. Win this week's contest, and an hour of dual is yours!

Answer the following two questions. See the rules page learn how to send your answers in. See the prizes page to check out all contest prizes. Good luck!

The year was 1925, and a little-known aviator named Charles Lindbergh still flew mail between St. Louis and Chicago. A major event was shaping up in the Pacific, however. The U.S. Navy announced that it would fly non-stop from California to Hawaii. Never mind that the planes involved could not reach Hawaii in calm winds, the Navy would enlist the assistance of northeast trade winds. A fleet of vessels stretched from the coast to the islands at two hundred mile intervals.
      Two PN-9 flying boats departed California and headed southwest. One encountered problems and set down next to a ship. The other continued into the night. With fuel running low, the commander of the PN-9 requested radio position finding from the closest naval ship. The plane turned north, as directed, and with no ships in sight and fuel depleted, the crew managed a successful water landing. When meteorolgical conditions allowed the PN-9 crew to determine their position, they realized they were far north of course and the naval vessels would be searching south of course.
     First Question: Who was the commander of the PN-9 which flew through the night?
     Second Question: What amazing action did the crew of this flying boat take to facilitate their eventual rescue?

First Answer: John Rodgers
Second Answer: The crew removed fabric from the lower wing to rig sails between the two wings. They then sailed the plane to Kauai! It took about ten days to reach the islands. Originally they tried for Oahu, but with limited steering ability the decision was made to change destination to Kauai. A submarine spotted the plane offshore Kauai. If not spotted, the crew intended to sail into Nawiliwili Harbor the next morning.

John Rodgers and his crew received a hero's welcome. The airport now known as Honolulu International originally took the name John Rodgers Field, in honor of the aviator. As Hawaii slowly forgot this incredible feat, the Rodgers name was dropped, and instead the terminal building was named for him. More recently, the name John Rodgers Field was used along with Hawaiian name Kalaeloa when referring to the former Barber's Point Naval Air Station. So, when you see the initials JRF used for Kaleloa, think of five brave Navy men sailing a seaplane across the Pacific.

The John Rodgers PN-9 in Nawiliwili Harbor. Notice metal planks strapped to mid fuselage to act as a keel for enhanced steering. Fabric sails already taken down.

Further Reading? Try No Margin for Error
by Dwight Messimer, Naval Institute Press 1981