OF REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA  - Founded 24 January 1895

(Founded 24 January 1895)

Meeting Number 1770

4:00 P.M.

December 18th , 2008



“The Flying Clippers: Their Glory, Romance, Tragedy and Mystery”

By:  W. Leonard Taylor, M.D. 
Robert W. Taylor, Ph.D.

               Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library



As a preteen boy, one of my greatest thrills was to visit the great San Francisco World Fair located on Treasure Island.  The island was man made, and is located just north of a natural island, Urba Buena; situated halfway between Oakland and San Francisco. We drove to Treasure Island on the brand new Bay Bridge.  There, among all the futuristic exhibits, which included the newest models of cars, and Ripley’s “Believe it or Not”, was something not to believe.  There in a lagoon next to the island was the largest airplane I had ever seen -- the China Clipper!  At that time the thought of flying to China was beyond comprehension.  China after all was as far away as you could get.  To fly there was unbelievable.  One day I saw, with my own eyes, this giant plane taxi out of the lagoon and cross over to the Oakland side of the bay. With a most magnificent display of power, noise and ocean spray that beautiful airship gradually gained speed.  As the hull began to rise into the waves, it clipped their tops. The foam and mist appeared at first in long and then short puffs, as the plane increased speed.  Then with a wonderful roar, those four engines propelled the ship into the air, at increasing speed, skimming just above the water.  I was transfixed to see it gain altitude and disappear beyond the Golden Gate, heading west to the mysterious distant land.

Those memories remained dormant for 67 years when Al Reid presented a paper to the Fortnightly Club meeting #1737, on Nov 30, 2006, entitled “Space Ship One – A Step to Space Tourism?” Space Ship One was the product of Virgin Galactic, and became the first privately-financed craft to carry a human into space.  (  While listening to all the obstacles that faced those adventures, my mind went back to the days when crossing the great oceans by air was an equally great challenge.

Who were the farsighted dreamers that put it all together and made it happen – what was the sequence of development that transfixed a nine year old standing on Treasure Island?  This is the story of Pan American Airways and must include “Hap“ Arnold,  “Billy” Mitchell, Juan Trippe , Charles Lindbergh, Igor Sikorsky, Glen Martin,  William Boeing and Ed Musick. (Refer to the appendix for more information on these men).

It was a time of great change in the US. The Roaring Twenties ended with a stock- market crash, followed by the depression of the 30s. Considering the depression, it is miraculous that Pan Am was successful.  Airline pilots were the lucky ones earning $8,000 per year.  By contrast a dentist earned $2,931 per year, an electrical worker $1,559, a public school teacher $1,227, a secretary $1,040, a steelworker $423 and a waitress $520.  Expenses, of course, were low – a gallon of gasoline was 18 cents and one could buy chicken for 22 cents a lb.  Milk was 10 cents a quart. (  This was the time that taught our parents frugality, yet it was a time of great, even audacious engineering accomplishments.  Consider, for examples, the Empire State Building (a forty-year record holder for the world’s tallest building), Hover Dam, and the Golden Gate Bridge.  Among these marvels we must certainly include commercial trans-oceanic flights of the Pan American clipper ships.  If we were to choose a single logo to represent the spirit of the 30s, would it not be the blue winged globe of the earth, the logo of Pan American Airlines? (Weirather, 2007)  It was a proud symbol of US world leadership, our “flagship airline“.  This image may have played a role in cracking the isolationist shell in our national character. Throughout the 30s, images of these planes were used in advertising all kinds of products, particularly tourism and movies. How did Pan American Airlines begin, and how did it gain this recognition?

The Panama Canal, German airline competition, and the Birth of Pan American Airlines.

Pan American Airways stumbled onto the world stage in an act highlighted by the expansion of German Airlines in South America (Schwartz, 2004).  A German-Columbian airline established service from Bogotá, to principal Caribbean seaports, a 600 mile flight that passed within 400 miles of the Panama Canal.  The German- Columbian airline planned expansion into Central America and on to the US.  The expansion would be profitable only with mail contracts and would result in flights over or near the Panama Canal. The US was extremely protective of the Panama Canal. Furthermore, European-based air service in Latin America was a disadvantage for American Business and a blow to US influence (today we might say security).
Alarmed by the possibility of German-airline expansion, the US Military attaché in Bogotá forwarded the information to military intelligence officer Major Henry H. “Hap” Arnold in Washington.  He was the correct man to get the information for Major Arnold had started an air capability at the Panama Canal in 1917, under the Aviation Section, US Signal Corps.  Receiving the information from Bogotá, Arnold consulted with US Postmaster General Henry New, previously Chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Possessions.  When the Postmaster General received a request for US mail contracts by the German-Columbian airline he had no basis for denying them without a competitive bid by a US company.  Major “Hap” Arnold had been thinking about commercial aviation probably ever since he was taught to fly by the Wright Brothers in 1911. Motivated by Postmaster New, Arnold put together an airline plan with several other visionaries, all WW1 military pilots. They named their airline Pan American Airways.  Arnold, with the chance of mail contracts, started getting capital to buy planes.

Suddenly Arnold was diverted from work on Pan American Airways by an unexpected and famous incident, the court-martial of Billy Mitchell.  Brigadier General Mitchell commanded the American air planes in WW1 in France, and was a decorated hero. Arnold and Mitchell shared a vision of the critical role of military air power for the future. Their view was not widely held. Mitchell was outspoken, and perhaps more arrogant than persuasive, which lead to a court martial for insubordination. Arnold testified on Mitchell’s behalf at the trial.  When Mitchell was convicted and suspended from active duty for 5 years by President Coolidge, Arnold felt compelled to remain in the Army and give up his airline dream in order to continue to persuade the US military of the importance of air power.

John Montgomery, one of Arnold’s four partners pursued the Pan American dream.  He found two investors and the three incorporated “Pan American Airways” in New York in March 1927.  They were awarded US mail contracts to Havana in July 1927, for service to commence in October 1927. Pan American Airways did not have a single plane or permission to land in Havana. These realities were too much for the investors who backed out. 

Another fledgling airline, Atlantic, Gulf, and Caribbean, with money, under the leadership of the chairman Hoyt of Curtis Wright, approached Montgomery with a plan for merger.  Montgomery rejected the plan.  Hoyt then approached Juan Trippe proposing that perhaps working together they could merge with Pan American Airways and get the mail contracts.  Trippe had planes (the Fokker Trimotor), landing rights at Havana, and money.  In addition he had two even more valuable assets; lessons taught from two previous failed ventures into airline service, and very well connected Yale friends who were also fellow aviators with whom he had formed the Aviation Corporation of America (AVCO).  Running out of time, Montgomery agreed to a merger of the three companies under the name of Pan American Airways, naming Trippe as president, with only two weeks to spare!  The mail was delivered.

Trippe, almost immediately saw the potential of passenger service but only if the image of flying could be changed from a dangerous stunt, to a safe adventure.  This was 1927, the year of Lindbergh’s famous flight -- a flight that helped promote flying as safe.  Safe flying was also promoted in the 1927 International Safe Aircraft Competition, funded by Daniel Guggenheim. (Hallion 1989)    Nevertheless, flying a land plane across water, even warm water, was a hard sell.  Trippe hired the hero Lindberg as an adviser.  Within one year about 1000 passengers flew the ninty mile Key West to Havana flight. Within a few years Pan American Airways was expanding into South America. The US wanted to maintain strong presence in Latin America, without violence and ill will. It was expressed in President F. D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor” policy.  Pan American Airlines became the right arm of that gospel.  The carrot was exclusive airmail contracts, and a monopoly on flights to foreign countries.

The competition to seaplane travel was luxury ships, at less than half the cost per ticket.  Tripp’s answer was luxury airships with large capacity and long range.  He named them Flying Clippers. They were promoted as safe and desirable in several movies, particularly “Flying Down to Rio”. Merian Cooper produced this 1933 film the same year he produced “King Kong”.  He was a Pam Am board member and shareholder.  Movies were a big, and influential export of the US to Latin America.  It hardly seems an accident that the initials of the US President (FDR) were used in the title of this movie -- part of the effort to maintain a monopoly with the new democratic administration.


PLANE                          NUMBER                  RANGE           PASSENGERS
   BUILT                      MILES                   MAX
Sikorsky 40                              3                      1200                            32
Sikorsky 42                              10                    1200                            32
Martin 30                                 3                      3200                            46
Boeing 314                               11                    3500                            74

The flying clippers were not the first or the largest seaplanes.  They were successful because of their long range, carrying capacity and speed. Furthermore they were scheduled.  The giant hydrogen-filled Zeppelins had been in non-scheduled Trans Atlantic flights since 1929.  It carried up to 74 passengers for a $461 one-way ticket requiring 80-100 hours.  They boasted luxury service including staterooms, dining room, lounge, piano, an observer deck and of all things considering the nearby giant container of hydrogen – a smoking room!  The service continued for approximately 9 years and then suddenly ceased with the explosion of the Hindenburg at Lakehurst, New Jersey.

The Sikorsky S-40 was the first 4-motored seaplane, and Lindbergh was the first pilot.  It was soon upgraded to the S-42. The Sikorsky planes were used both in Latin America and the Pacific.  The Martin planes were used only in the Pacific, whereas the Boeing planes were used both in the Pacific and the Atlantic.  One of the Martins M-130s was the actual China Clipper.

The Flying Clippers even to this day conjure up thoughts of adventure and elegance of a bygone era. The cost for a ticket across the Pacific was $10,000 in today’s dollars. That would include their full meal service and Clipper Cocktails. (See appendix)  The largest of Pan Am’s flying boats were the Boeing 314s entering service in 1939.  It could accommodate 74 passengers for day flights.  For overnight flights it had room for 36 passengers with sleeping births.  Unlike today’s planes, these planes were divided up into several luxurious cabin compartments including a stateroom, dressing rooms with men and women’s rest rooms.  There was a separate dining room offering full course meals.   (
Pan Am became particularly optimistic when in 1936 they received the coveted Collier Trophy, aviations’ highest award for the “establishment of the trans-pacific airplane and the successful execution of extended over water navigation in the regular operation thereof”. Within the previous year, Pan Am had made 70 round trip flights between San Francisco and Manila, flying 6,000,000 scheduled passenger miles without one accident or even a cancelled flight. (

There was a growing positive mood for the future of America by the mid and late 30s.  This was reflected in the large futuristic exhibits in both the San Francisco and New York world fairs. The good times of Pan Am, however, were about to change and a dark side emerge, as it expanded its activities in the Pacific.

This story starts in 1899 when Germany bought the Marianas islands (Except Guam) as well as Caroline and Marshall Islands from Spain.  At about the same time, Germany was exchanging technology for strategic materials with China.  Germany build railroads, brewed beer (Tsingtao) and colonized Qingdao, a sea port about midway between Shaghai and Beijing.

Japan was an ally of England, France and the US during WW1.  Japan attacked and occupied Qingdao, and the German islands making it safe for allied ships.  These lands were given to Japan as a mandate by the League of Nations in 1920, establishing a Japanese presence in China and the south west Pacific islands.  It is not hard to see why a resource lean Japan considered flights through their territory, and near their military bases in the Marianas, as well as the US presence in the Philippians and Guam, somewhere between meddlesome and a threat to the future of Japan in the region.  The Pan American Clippers could not be ignored.

Beginning at the time of the League of Nations mandate, a group known as the Naval Fleet Faction of Japan was increasing its strength, and demonstrating displeasure with the main leadership of the Japanese Navy.  Just what was the Naval Fleet Faction?

A year after the mandate, the Washington Naval Conference of 1921-1922 convened. It was known as the Five-Power treaty involving the United States, Great Britain, Japan, France and Italy.  This was a disarmament treaty to prevent a second world war by controlling the total tonnage of each country’s war ships.  It was, however, defective because some classes of ships were unrestricted.  This resulted in a race to build cruiser ships after 1922.   So to close this loophole, the powers reconvened in 1927 and 1930.  The important aspect of these treaties in regard to the flying clippers was that starting in 1922 it split in the Japanese Navy into two factions -- the Fleet Faction and the Treaty Faction.  The Treaty Faction won the internal power struggle and continued to sign the treaties.  But this only made the unofficial Fleet Faction more determined, causing them to withdraw even more into the shadows.  Their presence within the Navy was known and supported by the Navy Ministry but was not actually under its control.  By the mid-30s, the Fleet Faction gained sufficient power to force the Navy on December 29, 1934 to give notice that it intended to terminate the agreement of 1930.  (Wikipedia – Fleet Faction).  

Soon this Faction had highly organized surveillance and terrorist groups functioning all through the Pacific and the United States. It was in this setting that Pan Am began sending its clippers to the Western Pacific over Japanese territory.  But even more significant was the progressive radicalization of the Japanese Fleet Faction that had an even more aggressive posture.  It appears to have been a well organized dark mysterious group that had their own agenda, working within the jurisdiction of the main navy.  This agenda lead to outright acts of sabotage and terrorism.  This organization was involved in detailed espionage that apparently included collection of detailed information on the crews and passenger lists of the flying boats.  After 1935 there were at least six acts of aggression and sabotage before Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. 

These began on November 22, 1935 when Japanese Nationals were discovered in the flight deck of the China Clipper. They were attempting to disable its radio direction finder, shortly before its maiden flight from Alameda, California, to the Orient. This attempted sabotage was not reported for nearly 10 years. (Klass, 1997)  Pan Am probably did not want the event publicized at a time when it was trying to win passengers.  The second event had to do with the intriguing information concerning the disappearance of Amelia Earhart July 2, 1937.  (See Appendix) The third was the sinking of the U.S. gunboat Panay on the Yangtze River, in China. (See Appendix)  The forth event was the destruction of the Samoan Clipper January 11, 1938.  The fifth event was the disappearance of the Hawaii Clipper July 29, 1938, while on a routine flight from Guam to Manila, with the loss of nine crew and six passengers.  No cause for the loss was ever determined according to “Aviation Safety Network”.
The sixth event was the shooting down of a CNAC (China National Aviation Corporation) plane by the name of Kwelin by planes from the Japanese Navy while on a routine Hong Kong to Chungking flight.  The CNAC had strong organizational links to Pan American Airways.  (Fix on the Rising Sun)

Focusing now, on the disappearance of the Hawaii Clipper, which has never been officially resolved.  However, through six chains of interrelated information a reasonable and persuasive explanation emerges.  The information is almost unbelievable except that it is derived from separate individuals whose veracity is difficult to discount.  This fascinating bit of micro history leading up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor constitutes the remaining portion of this paper and is primarily based on a book Fix on the Rising Sun by Charles Hill, published in 2002.  In this book there are two clues as to why the Fleet Faction was interested in the Hawaii Clipper.  One was the passengers and the other the plane itself.

The passengers were indeed unique travelers, researched and known by the Fleet Faction.

Passenger Choy Wah Sun was from Jersey City, New Jersey.  He was an American born successful restaurant operator in Manhattan.  He had strong ties to China and was making trip to visit his younger brother Frank who was serving in the Chinese Air Force.  He had raised three million dollars and was carrying it to the Kuomintang government in Chungking in the form of US gold backed paper certificates. 

Passenger Howard C. French Major USAACR was from Portland Oregon.  He mentioned to an Oregonian reporter “I hope to get up to Canton while I’m there.  I want to be in Canton when the Japs pull another raid on the town.  I want to see the bombs drop now.  It’s been quite a while since I was in the aviation corps during the world war.  I saw plenty of them drop then, but maybe the style has changed”.  As a senior reserve officer in the Pacific Northwest, and active commander of the 321st Observer Squadron based in Pearson field in Vancouver, his interest in Japanese bombing techniques was hardly a matter of idle curiosity.
Passenger Kenneth A Kennedy from Oakland, California, was a traffic manager for PAA’s  Pacific Division. He was flying on company business, possibly to reschedule connections with CNAC whose routes had been disrupted as the result of recent Japanese military advances. (See Appendix regarding the nature of the disruptions).

Passenger Earl B McKinley MD, Colonel USAR from Washington D.C., was Dean of the College of Medicine at George Washington University and had been a professor of Bacteriology since 1936.  In 1935 he had published a book, The Geography of Disease. At this point in his career he was determining the means of intercontinental transmission of disease.  He was traveling with Fred C. Meier Ph.D. 

Passenger Fred C. Meier, Ph.D., from Chevy Chase, Maryland, graduated from Harvard in 1915.  From 1930 to 1934, he had been the principal pathologist with the U.S. Bureau of Plant Industry serving recently as the senior scientist.  He shared with Dr. McKinley the belief that plant spores carrying bacteria and carried by the wind, played a major role in international spread of disease, rather than commercial shipping. Several years before he had worked with Col. Charles Lindbergh in the design of what they called an air-hook.  The air-hook when extended into the air stream on a long pole collected airborne dust, pollen spores and germs.  It had been extremely successful.  He had arranged to have Amelia Earhart collect samples on her 1937 flight around the world.  Samples from the Atlantic leg of her trip had demonstrated that at least forty micro-organisms were being carried across the Atlantic on wind currents.  Because Earhart disappeared in July, 1937, Dr. Meier obtained no data on the Pacific Ocean.  One year later, with support of the National Research Council, Drs McKinley and Meier were collecting the samples they desired, on their flight aboard the Hawaiian Clipper. This information is obtained by reading between the lines of an International News Service report of July 29, 1938. The air-hook was described and concluded with a reference to “the secret objectives of the scientific expedition,” The news service indicated there was more to the study that could not be published.

The importance of this research can be appreciated in better perspective, when one learns a little known aspect of the Second World War.  As the United States was developing the atomic bomb, Japan was developing bacterial warfare.  Their bacterial air assault began in 1944 and became known to the American public in May, 1945, when a large rice-paper balloon was found in Oregon by picnickers.  It exploded killing a minister’s wife and his five children.  Luckily few balloons made it to the United States. According to the World War II Magazine, there was failure of their altitude control batteries due to freezing in the jet stream.  At the time, however, the U. S. Government took the balloon threat seriously and maintained a combat-ready fighter squadron solely to shoot these balloons down.

Passenger Edward E. Wyman, Lt. Cdr. USNR, was a graduate of Yale and for ten years was an assistant to Pan American Airways’ president Juan T. Trippe.  He was a charming extrovert and successful businessman.  He had just resigned from Pan Am and was named the Vice President of Export Sales for Curtiss-Wright Corporation. They provided the engines for the Hawk 75 pursuit planes being sent to China.  In contrast to one day stops elsewhere on his trip, Wyman was scheduled for nine days in Hong Kong.  He did not book a hotel in Hong Kong, but rather listed his return address as “c/o P.A.A.   The New York Times noted that the Hawk 75 was soon to be replaced by an all metal plane which was the export version of the P-36.  The engines were on Wyman’s mind according to his daughter Hope.  Japanese air superiority was clearly a threat -- and Wyman was intimately involved.

Just what were the six chains of information previously mentioned?   First, there is data regarding an oil slick found and investigated during July and August 1938.  This oil slick was found immediately after the Hawaii Clipper disappeared, and was located right on the original flight path to Manila.  Its discovery was associated with curious interchanges between Japan and the US, which included diplomatic activity and press releases.  One of these releases confirmed fifteen fatalities related to the Hawaii Clipper.  Questions of Japanese involvement were raised in the press.  For unexplained reasons, the New York Times squelched the report.  Fortunately samples of the slick were saved and brought to the U.S. for analysis.  The oil slick was found to be bogus.  The analysis of the oil in the slick bore no relation to the oil used in the Hawaii Clipper. 

Secondly during the fall of 1938 information was collected by the Commerce Department of Inquiry.  They combed the jungles of the Philippians looking for wreckage. None was found and the case was left open at the time and still remains open today.

The third collection of information consists of three verbal reports made in 1995, 1946, and 1990.  In 1995 Admiral John H. Towers made a report to Juan Trippe, president of Pan American Airways.  Admiral Towers had retired from the Navy and had accepted a position as Vice President of PAA.  (Robert Doleyh in An American Saga cites Towers report:  Juan Trippe and his Pan American Empire.)   Towers described a Hawaii Clipper magneto housing serial number which had apparently been molded by reverse engineering into the magneto housing of every Japanese Zero fighter plane.  This report was repeated to others at PAA including a Harvey Katz who wrote a memo on the subject in a PAF file 10.10.10.  The 1946 report comes from General Richard Kernes Southerland.  He had served throughout the Pacific War as chief of staff to General Douglas MacArthur, from Corregidor to Australia, and then in the struggle to regain the Philippines, and finally, to the occupation of Japan.  The credentials of General Sutherland are given to support the veracity of what comes next.  Lost Hawaii Clipper-passenger, Wyman had a daughter, Hope.  She was informed by her mother right after WWII, that word had come to her from General Sutherland “a friend”, that the engines of the Hawaii Clipper had been recovered – in Japan!  It was the kind of information only an extremely well-placed officer would have risked revealing.  Wyman’s daughter must have thought it strange that this information was given to her mother, a lonely civilian air tragedy widow.  It would have seemed reasonable for her mother to question the source of the report, which she didn’t do.  She of course, did not know who General Sutherland was and did not know at the time a very important detail.  This missing detail clarified her mother’s comment referring to General Sutherland as “a friend”.  Ten years after the war, Hope’s mother passed away, and Hope came into possession of her mother’s personal effects which included a photo album.  In it were photographs taken by her mother at a house party at Fort Ticonderoga, on Lake Champlain in 1916, three years before she was married.  And there in that album, were photographs of Richard Sutherland!  The house party was obviously an encounter the General had not forgotten 28 years later when he called Hope’s mother as “a friend” to bring closure to the loss of her husband.  The last of the verbal information was the 1990 report which came directly to Charles Hill from a Marine intelligence officer, stating of all things, that the Hawaii Clipper had been seen virtually intact in 1945, in Hokosuka, Japan. 

In 1980 a forth accumulation of  written information surfaced in a book by Ronald Jackson, China Clipper, which also details the last flight of the Hawaii Clipper. 

The fifth bit of evidence is by all accounts the most grisly and gruesome as anything to come out of the Pacific.  In 1938 Joe Gervais, a retired USAF officer and dedicated Earhart hunter went to Truk atoll searching for her.  He failed to find information on Earhart but came back with a tragic tale.  He encountered two Micronesian contractors who were building a Japanese Naval Hospital on Dublon Island (part of Truk atoll) during the summer of 1938, and witnessed the literal entombment of 15 Americans in a slab of poured concrete.  Their description of the individuals and their clothing leaves little doubt that they were the crew and passengers of the Hawaii Clipper.

Piecing together the most plausible reconstruction of this complex and well planned hijacking, the following picture emerges:  Several special empty crates had been shipped to the Hawaii Clipper by Japanese operatives working through non-Japanese agents in San Francisco.   The plane after landing in Guam is serviced in a hanger.  Sometime after midnight on July 29, 1938 two Japanese emerge from hiding and board the plane.  They quickly hide themselves in the prepared crates. At 6:08 AM the plane takes off.  Captain John Jewett was at the controls and reports that “she felt tail heavy”.  The plane seems almost unable to rise out of the harbor, remaining on the water 20 seconds longer than usual.

It should be mentioned at this point that there was considerable apprehension that there might be a Japanese assault on one of the clippers.  (See Appendix for more detail)  With this in mind and with the cooperation of a U.S Army ship Meigs, a prearranged maneuver had been instituted.  The clipper’s speed was decreased to 105 knots rather than the usual 110 knots.  The idea was that if a Japanese flying boat was seen by the Meigs at about 0349 Z then a probable intercept was planned and the clipper flying behind schedule, would be able to take evasive action well in advance of the intercept.  At 7:30 AM one and a half hours into the flight the two Japanese hijackers take control of the clipper but are dismayed to find the plane far behind schedule.  There followed a series of navigational changes with Davis, the radio operator, cleverly interspacing substitutions to tip off PAA, that all was not well and that their true course was to Ulithi. In the meantime a Japanese seaplane drops two barrels of oil and gasoline into the sea at a point on the original flight path to Manila. At Ulithi, a relief crew boards the plane and flies it to Truk atoll   The Hawaii Clipper’s last flight, then sadly terminates at Etan Anchorage and moors at Dublon Island sea plane base.  The fifteen American are taken ashore and buried in a concrete slab.  On August 3, 1938 the Hawaii Clipper now painted as a flying boat of the Imperial Japanese Navy takes off on Wednesday for a night flight to Pagan where it refuels.  It then flies to Parece Vela to avoid a typhoon.  On Monday August 8, 1938 after a few days the storm abates and she flies north to Nagoya.  Several years later she is taken to Yokosuka where in the summer of 1945, she is located by American military intelligence personnel and revealed to a few senior officers of the U. S. Pacific Command.   This very sad tragedy is made even more distasteful when we learn that the then new Japanese fighter plane, the Zero, would soon be flying with a powerful twin-row fourteen cylinder radial engine, developed from the engines of the Hawaii Clipper!

The sixth investigation was perhaps the most complex and was conducted by Charles Hill, author of the book, Fix on the Rising Sun.  The majority of this book deals with an exhaustive reconstruction of the last five radioed positions and how they can be shown to represent a course very different from the originally planned flight to Manila, but made to look on the surface that it was on the Manila run.

There remains one last investigation – the seventh.  It, by all rights, should be the simplest of all. A survey of the slab should require only a few days’ work, using short-range microwave survey equipment.  Assuming human remains are located, the slab could be cut with subsequent removal of the concrete around the faces forming death masks which would serve for identification purposes.

The remains could then be returned to the United States for proper burial and a fitting memorial no less deserved than the victims of Pan Am 103, destroyed over Lockerbie Scotland in 1988.  Permission to remove the bodies should not be a problem as the Japanese have already been granted such permission for removal of their remains, from the Federated States of Micronesia and the Truck (Chuck) State Government.

Despite many attempts by Charles Hill to get official support of the U.S. Government to bring this matter to a satisfactory close, they have refused.  At this point one can only ask why, considering the evidence and ease of resolution.  There is also a curious silence on the part of the Japanese.  In a tangible way the story of Amelia Earhart and the Hawaii Clipper are both mired in mystery.  Charles Hill has worked on both and has had a personal experience that leads him to believe there is an “imagination-staggering saga” that is actively being suppressed. (See Appendix for his personal experience in this regard)  This amazing story remains an incomplete tale, the end of which cries out for resolution. 

With the outbreak of the Second World War the golden age of transatlantic commercial travel with the Boeing 314 was abandoned after just three months of service. 
Boeing, in the meantime, was continually improving the 314.  Two years later on March 20, 1941  model 314A  flew with 1000 gallons more fuel, greater engine power, and a capacity for 77 day time passengers.  Pan Am ordered six new aircraft.  With the pressure of war, however, they only received half of their order with the other three planes purchased by England.  Subsequently, six more planes were built for a total of twelve.  These planes carried out multiple military missions during the world war flying all over the globe. This included transporting Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt on their intercontinental missions.  Five were purchased by the military of which 3 were lost.  The remaining nine survived the war.
The development of long-range planes and multiple long concrete airstrips during the war brought the demise of the Flying Clippers, with the last retired from Pan Am in 1946.  (html://  The planes continued to fly with charter companies, but by the early 1950s all the planes were gone.  Aviation history has bequeathed the Flying Clippers its most famous names, and people even
today, consider it the most romantic era of flying.





General “Hap” Arnold had an US Army career that spanned the first half of the twentieth century.  A 1907 graduate of West Point he learned to fly from the Wright Brothers in 1911, Arnold promoted the use of aircraft in war.  He commanded all US air activities in WWI and in WWII.  During WWII the number of air craft in the Army Air Force grew from 4000 to 75,000.   He was most influential in founding the air Force as a new separate branch of the US military, and after his retirement he was honored with the rank of five star general.  Of particular importance to our story was his creation of an air service at the Panama Canal Zone under the US Army Signal Corps.  Later with the possibility of a German airline passing over the canal he countered with the creation of Pan American Airlines. (Wikipedia. General Henry “Hap” Arnold)


Mitchell was born in France in 1879.  His father was a US senator representing Wisconsin. Enlisting in the Army during the Spanish-America War, he quickly received an advancement and joined the US Army Signal Corps.  He learned to fly in 1916 at age 38.  He foresaw the importance of air craft in future combat.  No pun intended, he was a high flyer, daring, and a leader respected by his subordinates.  He was commander of all aircraft in France, and by end of WWI was perhaps the best know American in Europe.  Because of his flamboyant and outspoken style, he was frequently in conflict with his superiors.  In 1925 he was court marshaled and suspended without pay for 5 years.  “Hap” Arnold testified for Mitchell, without success. Mitchell resigned, but with vigor and insight he continued to write and work promoting US military air power.  He did not believe the popular slogan “WW1 was the war that would end all war”.  To a great extent his promotion of air power realigned military budgets which kept aircraft makers on their toes and advanced aircraft design. The Boeing 314 Flying Clipper was certainly a younger sister to the flying fortress B 17.   An advanced airplane such as the 314 could not have been built without the experience Boeing gained designing military bombers.  This was the Mitchell legacy. (Wikipedia.. William Lendrum “Billy” Mitchell)
Juan Trippe was a descendent of a nineteenth century family known for their success with the Flying clipper sailing ships.  Those ships, using the techniques developed by Nathaniel Bowditch provided much of the wealth that flowed into the United States during this period.  Trippe with his tremendous persuasive ability was able to lead an entire industry to follow his vision.  After his service in the Navy as a bomber, he graduated from Yale and spent time on Wall Street, but soon had visions of an international airline.  Backed by a network of rich friends, particularly Yale classmate, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney (Sonny), he started an airline called the Aviation Corporation of America.  As a result of a merger with two other airlines, Pan American Airlines was born with Trippe as leader, as detailed in the report.   As a result of the merger he acquired the first U.S. Government airmail routes to the Caribbean beginning with Key West, Florida to Havana, Cuba in 1928.  Trippe constantly expanding vision to develop overseas routes took an enormous boost, including passenger service, when he persuaded Charles Lindbergh to work for his airline.  Flying together they mapped out transatlantic routes using Trippe’s family’s old sea merchant logs. ( the sun/innovators/trippe.html)
To his credit Trippe added to his company’s growth as the range of the planes increased, spreading from island to island in the Caribbean, into Mexico, central America and then into South America.  He pioneered the Flying Clippers across the Pacific and by the end of World War II had a truly global airline system.  (http//www.time/time100/builder/profile/trippe.html)  Although he is probably best remembered for the romance that developed over the Flying Clippers, people seem to have forgotten that it was Trippe that managed to persuade Boeing, over tremendous opposition, to build a jet commercial aircraft that was immediately successful with 90% occupancy – the Boeing 707, followed by the 747. ( the sun/innovators/trippe.html)


Lindbergh was born in 1902 and was made world famous for the first solo transatlantic flight 1n 1927.  During the pre-WW II years he was a noted isolationist dedicated to keep the U.S. out of the coming war.  He was the recipient of the Medal of Honor. 

In 1922 he quit a mechanical engineering program at the University of Wisconsin and joined a pilot and mechanics program with Nebraska Aircraft.  He became a barnstormer --“Daredevil Lindbergh”. In 1924 he started training with the Army Air Service and worked as an airline mechanic.  He soon began flying the mail. 

 During May 20-21, 1927 Lindbergh became the first non-stop soloist to cross the Atlantic.  It took him 335 hours.  There was instant massive publicity augmenting the aircraft industry which was previously held back by a skeptical public.  It is said that the first walk on the moon didn’t even come close to the impact Lindbergh had on the public with his transatlantic flight.  This is of interest, as eighty one people had flown across the Atlantic prior to Lindberg’s crossing.  His main contribution to aviation was the development of polar air routs, high altitude flying techniques and methods of increasing aircraft range by decreasing fuel consumption.  

Prior to WWII he was charged with the responsibility of learning everything possible about the German air force.  His political views were complex. His findings, were in part sympathetic to Germany, and therefore   interpreted by some as unpatriotic. However, to the men that served with him in fifty combat missions in the Pacific, he was admired and respected.  He was praised for his courage and defended his patriotism.  Eisenhower made him a Brigadier General in 1954.  He died of a lymphoma in Maui, Hawaii in 1954.  (Wikipedia. Charles Lindberg)


He was born May 25, 1889 and died Oct 26, 1972.  He designed, built and flew the first multiengine fixed winged aircraft in 1913 before he immigrated to the United States in 1919 from Russia.  In 1923 he formed the Sikorsky Aero-Engineering Co.   He had experimented with helicopters before his work on airplanes, but before he was successful with helicopters he developed the first Pan American Airways ocean- crossing flying boats in the early 1930s.

An interesting and unexpected foot note in his life is that, of all things, one of his chief supporters was composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.  He introduced himself to Sikorsky by presenting him with a check for $5,000 (equivalent to $61,000 in 2007 dollars)  (Wikipedia.  Igor Sikorsky)
He made history in 1901 by being the first to fly higher and longer than any one else (100 feet for 12 seconds)  He afterward set a world record for the longest distance over water flight.  (Wikipeida.  Glen Martin).   At age six he began earning money by making kites after school and selling them for 24 cents apiece.  He was a very somber highly focused person who in later life was extremely well dressed.  In 1912 he began manufacturing planes for the US Army.  He earned additional money by barnstorming though the west carrying a woman in pink tights who parachuted into county fairs.  He never married.  By 1939 he had the largest plane manufacturing back log in the world.  He was building bombers for the Army and gull winged flying boats for the Navy.  He built three Flying Clippers for Pan American Airlines -- the M-130s – the Hawaii Clipper, the Philippine Clipper and the China Clipper.  (,9171,931281-1,00.html)

Born Oct 1, 1881 – Died Sept 27,1958
His father was a wealthy mining and timber man.  William left Yale in 1903 to take up timbering on the Olympic Peninsula in the State of Washington.  He began manufacturing planes with George Conrad Westervelt in 1919 in Seattle.  He made planes for the US Navy and Army during the first WW.  He learned to fly from Glen Martin in 1911.  He retired from the aircraft industry in 1934 but returned during WWII to assist in fulfilling the vast military production.   (Wikipedia) (

Born August 13, 1884.  Died January 11, 1938.
He learned to fly at a flying school in Los Angeles before WW I   He joined the U.S Army Air Service in San Diego, as a flight instructor.  After the War he founded his own flying school in Florida.  Just as Pan American Airways was forming in 1927, he joined them.  In 1934 he was chosen to make the trial flights of the Sikorsky S-42 flying boats. He was one of the best known pilots of the 1930s, and made it to the cover of Time Magazine December 2, 1930.




There were three models beginning with the S-38, which was a great success.  This was followed by the S-40 which was delivered to Pan Am on October 10, 1931.  Christened the American Clipper by Mrs. Hoover, it was called a “flagship” by Trippe.  The idea of calling these aircrafts clippers came from Trippe himself, because many of the same nautical problems facing the design of the seagoing Yankee Clipper ships had to be faced with the Flying Clippers.  Between 1934 and 1936, ten S-42s were built and extensively used in South America and the Pacific. (www.flyingclippers.comS42A)
This plane once again was developed by the urging of Juan Tripp to have sufficient range to island hop to Hawaii, Wake, Guam and Manila --8200 miles.  It could lift more than its own weight and had performance characteristics that exceeded the famous wheeled aircraft of the day such as the Douglas DC-3.  The plane was christened by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, a flying enthusiast.

 Trans Pacific Mail service began Nov 1935 before a crowd of 25,000 at Alameda California.  The take off was an event to be remembered forever.  In previous trials, Musick had taken off in this plane with heavy cargo, but on this day extra fuel was needed.   The result was a much slower rate of ascent than planned which forced Musick, when he realized at the last minute that he could not clear the San Francisco – Oakland bay bridge to nose the plane down and flew under, dodging hanging cables. The crowd went wild thinking this was a planned maneuver.   A crowed of 100,000 cheered the plane’s arrival in Manila.  By the time its first passenger flight was made in October 1936, there were 1,100 ticket applications.  Fares were $1,600 in 1936 dollars, round tip to Manila, and $720 round trip to Honolulu.

This same plane, the China Clipper, was pressed into the war effort.  It was the main means of transferring Uranium ore from the Belgium Congo for the Manhattan project.

Pan American World Airways with the success of its earlier Clipper Ships recognized a need for a similar craft capable of transatlantic flights with great passenger comfort and speed.  They had a design competition and Boeing won with the 314, the largest aircraft with the longest range in the competition. By 1935 Pam Am negotiated with Boeing for six of them..  In two years there were sea runs on Puget Sound and by June 7, 1938 the 314 took to the air. It was the largest civil aircraft for many years.    It entered the service in 1939 and could accommodate 74 passengers for day flights.  The aircraft had 36 sleeping births.  Unlike today’s planes they were divided up into several luxurious cabin compartments including a stateroom, dressing rooms and separate men and women’s restrooms. There was a separate dining room offering full course meals and beverages including the famous Clipper Cocktail.  (See Clipper Cocktail below)  The Sikorsky S-42s and the Martin M-130s were the Boeing 314 predecessors.  It was twice the size of the Sikorsky and weighed 40 tons, exceeding the M-130s by 15 tons.  It had four 14 cylinder Wright Cyclone air-cooled engines each generating 1,600 hp, giving it a cruising speed of 183 mph and a ceiling of 13,400 feet.   Its range was 3,500 miles, and it cost $550,000. 

This plane, like the Martin 130 China Clipper, replaced the wing tip pontoons of the Sikorsky with spansons.  These were stubby wing like structures extending out each side of the plane near its water line, just below the wings.  They contributed a little lift, rather than the drag of the pontoons. They gave stability in water, were fuel tanks, and formed a platform for passengers to walk in and out of the plane. Their capacity with other tanks in the wings gave a total of 3,525 gallons.  The plane also required 300 gallons of oil for the engines. 

The triple tail assembly which contributed to the romance of the plane was thought by many to be a matter of esthetics.  As a matter of fact it was done of necessity.  The first design, called for a single vertical stabilizer which did not work well.  The second design called for two vertical stabilizers, but this also proved to be unsatisfactory.  It wasn’t until the triple fin assembly was inserted that that there was a satisfactory steering device, which forever after characterized the grace of the Boeing 314. ( Canaveral/Lab/4515/clipper.html)

On May 20, 1939, mail service began in the Atlantic from Port Washington to Marseilles., France.  By June 23, 1939 mail was going to Southampton, England – thus the first transatlantic mail service was inaugurated.

The first passengers flew from New York to Southampton just one month later. There were twenty two of them, paying $675 for a round trip ticket.  This is more than $8,000 in today’s dollar.  (Or more than twice the cost of a Concord ticket.)  But alas with the outbreak of the Second World War on September 3, 1939, the golden age of transatlantic commercial flying clippers was abandoned after just three months of service. 
 (Wikipedia, Boeing 314) (www.boeing 314)                           


HOWARD COX, age 35.  Engineer Officer. 944 transpacific hours.
Cox joined PAA in 1930, three years after the Caribbean operations began.  He worked in Central America until 1937 as a flight engineer.  Just before this flight he along with first Officer Mark Walker had been in Seattle assisting in the development of the new Boeing 314.  He had just been transferred to the new Atlantic run.  This transfer, however, had been cancelled and  he was assigned to the Hawaiian clipper.  He was training Tom Tantum, formerly a mechanic at PAA’s Pacific island bases but now one of their newest Assistant Engineer Officers.

GEORGE M. DAVIS, age 29, Second Officer.  Certified Transport Pilot with 1650 flight hours/1080 trans-Pacific hours. 

 He was an Ensign in the U S Navy Reserves,but had been released from active duty during the depression cutbacks.  He joined PAA in 1935 and by 1936 he was transferred to the Pacific and was living with his wife in Santa Barbara.  


JOHN W. JEWETT, age 29.  Fouth  Officer.  Certified Transport Pilot with 2000 flight hours/ 428 trans-Pacific hours.

USNR he learned to fly in the Navy after graduating from MIT.  He worked as a Douglas engineer and then joined PAA in 1936 flying in the Caribbean.  In 1937 he was transferred to the Pacific.  Although more experienced than the other officers except Terletsky, his lack of Pacific flight time had relegated him to a training berth as Fourth Officer. 


WILLIAM MCCARTY, age33. Flight Radio Officer.  Certified Radio Operator (First Class) with 1352 trans-Pacific hours. 
He had been Chief Radio Operator aboard the S.S. Lurline sailing between San Francisco and Hawaii.  It is assumed because of his Pacific basin experience he knew of the darker side of life there. 


IVAN PARKER, age 40. Flight Steward.  1200 trans-Pacific hours
He had made 26 Pacific trips, but was living on borrowed time.  In January because of scheduling conflicts he missed joining the ill-fated mail flight of the Samoan Clipper, which was lost, with all aboard, near Pago Pago, American Samoa.   He was planning to accept a promotion as manager of PAA’s hotel on Guam.  His wife refused to move to Guam which resulted in a divorce.  She changed her mind right after his departure, but as noted above it no longer mattered.

JOSE M. SAUCEDA, age 35. Third Officer.  Certified Transport Pilot.  1900 flying hours/ 570 trans-Pacific hours. 
He had worked for PAA since 1929, and in 1931 had been co-pilot on Pan Am’s charter flight into Brazil.  (Matto Grosso)  He remained in Brazil until late in 1937 when he transferred to the Pacific Division.  On the day of the Hawaiian clipper’s departure from Alameda, California, he was walking to the dock when he was overtaken by Mark Anderson Walker, the First Officer.  Officer Walker was driving his new Ford and invited him to squeeze behind his younger sister Mary Ann.  Saudeda with a certain amount of reserve as well as flair, declined, but rode standing on the running board.  The Ford and his sister form a sad back drop for the story in the main text. 

THOMAS B. TATUM, age 29. Assistant  Engineer Officer.  Certified Aircraft and Engine Mechanic.  35 trans-Pacific hours. 
He had served from the beginning of the Pacific operations on Wake, Midway and Guam.  He had performed regular ground maintenance on Clippers for three years and had just been promoted to flight duty.  He joined the Hawaii Clipper at Pearl Harbor and begun his in-flight training under the Engineer Officer, Howard Cox. 


LEO TERLETSKY, age 43. Captain.  Certified Transport Pilot.  9200 flying hours/1626 trans-Pacific hours. 
 He was born in Russia in 1895.  At the time of the Bolshevik Revolution he escaped, came to the United States, graduated from Columbia University and in 1925 became a U.S. Citizen.  He began flying in 1920 and became Chief Pilot for Barrett Airways in 1927.  Then in 1928 came to PAA with assignments in Caribbean, South America and New York.  In 1936 he was transferred to the Pacific Division, and settled in Palo Alto,  California. 
When flying in the Caribbean he was in Cuba when a revolution broke out.  A Cuban Secret Police Chief and another Cuban boarded his plane, demanding flight to Miami.  In the confusion of trying to get them off the plane the Cubans drew a gun and refused to depart.  As a mob arrived at the dock, Terletsky attempted to start the balky engines.  By the time the engines rose to full throttle the plane had taken nine bullets through the fuselage -- one of them missing Terletsky’s head by six inches.  Little did he know that the ill fated Hawaii Clipper trip also would have unwelcome passengers. 


MARK ANDERSON WALKER, age 26. First Officer Certified Transport Pilot.  1900 flying hours/1575 trans-Pacific hours. 
He was a graduate of Stanford University and learned to fly in the Navy. In contrast to the other crew he fortunately left a legacy of information through his sister Mary Ann.

 Sixty years after he and his sister picked up Third Officer Sauceda on their way to the Alameda clipper dock, Mary Ann and their cousin Captain Greenwood USN (Retired)   released chilling information never before known.  Captain Greenwood in a letter published in the US Naval Academy Alumni Association publication, Shipmate Jan-Feb, 1987, contained Captain Greenwood’s recollection of his conversations with Mark Walker. It must be mentioned at this point, as a matter of background, that Walker, early in 1937, had been assigned to work with Amelia Earhart and her navigator Noonan during their Pacific-area phase.  Walker at once urged his friend Earhart to consider the emphasis that Pan American placed on flight safety and that she was at risk doing  a foolhardy ‘publicity stunt.’  He told her that her equipment was barely adequate.  Her reply was direct.  She had ­not proposed the flight.  Someone high in the government had personally asked her to undertake the mission.  Her plane was widely believed to fly at 150 mph but in fact was capable of 250 mph. The flight was to be laid out in two routes.  One route was to be publicized.  The other longer route was to be flown directly over Japanese Islands to gather military intelligence.  Earhart could have appeared to make a flight from Lae, New Guinea to Howland Island at 150 mph while actually detouring to the Truk atoll in the same time interval at 250 mph.  Greenwood went on to describe how Mark Walker “… and his fellow Pan American pilots had discussed how easy it would be for a saboteur to sneak aboard a China Clipper, and with no more than a pistol commandeer the flight and direct it to another destination.  The clippers had all of the latest navy instrumentation and communications equipment which he felt the Japanese wanted.” This article was in response to a critical article by Capt. William B. Short Jr. USN that appeared in the Shipmate the previous year in November 1986 regarding Earhart’s flight, attacking it as a “publicity stunt.”

Walker’s apprehension regarding his flight was also revealed sixty years later when his sister mentioned that in going through her brother’s desk top papers, following his disappearance, she found a letter to her written just before his departure.  In it he reminded her to have the tires rotated on their new Ford -- six weeks later!

Walker had one more important reason for apprehension.  About six months earlier in December 1937 the U S gunboat Panay was sunk in the Yangtze River by Japanese carrier based aircraft.  Newsreel cameramen aboard the Panay had filmed the entire incident. The films were hidden by the survivors and taken to Shanghai.  From there they went to Manila on the cruiser U.S.S Augusta where they were sent home to the US by clipper, guarded by none other than Mark Walker.

On his way to board the China Clipper, he was accosted by several young Japanese, dressed in civilian clothing.  They demanded that Walker hand over the cans of film. He refused and just as things were turning violent, a few bystanders began moving in to Walker’s aid.  As the Japanese retreated one called out ominously “We know who you are – Mark Walker!” (This section is from Fix on the Rising Sun, 2002 by Charles Hill)


As the eighteenth century came to its close Nathaniel Bowditch provided the astronomical information and the navigational skills that many believe was most responsible for the economic success of the States during the ninteenth century. This was done by enabling our sailing ships to traverse the seas much more efficiently than before, by use of navigational techniques developed by Bowditch .These techniques were put into use by the fastest commercial  sailing ships in the world – the Yankee-invented  clipper ships.  Speed and navigational efficiency were unmatched elsewhere in the world greatly contributing to the wealth of the States. (Taylor, W. Leonard.  America’s First Mathematician, Astronomer and Philosopher; Nathaniel Bowditch.  Paper presented at Redlands Fortnightly Club March 29, 2001)   Yankee Clipper sailing ships were carefully studied by the designers of the Flying Clippers as many of the same problems confronting the Yankee Clipper confronted the Flying Clippers.  Furthermore Juan Trippe was a direct descent of a family of the Yankee Clipper ships and had access to their logs.   



The London Naval Conference of 1930 was convened on the invitation of Great Britain to revise and expand the naval limitations that had been established by the Five Power Naval Treat at the Washington Conference of 1922.  That earlier treaty limited capital ship and aircraft carrier tonnages for the United States, Great Britain, Japan, France and Italy.

Although the Five-Power Treaty controlled tonnage of each navy, some classes of ships were left unrestricted.  As a result a new race to build cruiser ships emerged after 1922, leading the powers back to the negotiating table in Geneva, under the sponsorship of the League of Nations.  This meeting resulted in a total breakdown and provoked tensions in Anglo-American relations unprecedented in the twentieth century.

Fortunately with the administration of President Edgar Hoover and Labor cabinet of J. Ramasy MacDonald, a new spirit of conciliation developed leading to positions so close that plans were made to convene a five-power naval conference in London in January 1930.  This 1930 conference, however, nearly floundered when it came time to deal with the three other members, Japan, France and Italy. In Japan ratification was achieved only over vigorous objections from the chief of the Naval General Staff, Admiral Kato Kanji, and the Fleet Faction within the Japanese navy.  Emotions ran so high that the men who had accepted the Treaty were retired, and Prime Minister Hamaguchi Yuko was mortally wounded by one in opposition to the Treaty.  The Navy began almost immediately to withdraw from the naval limitations at the conclusion of the Treaty in 1936.  So when arrangements were being made in 1935 for a second London Conference the other participants were dealt a stunning blow -- Japan announced their plans to withdraw.    The London Naval Conference, January-April 1930, was the last peace conference done in the grand manner.  It was opened by King George V and attended by leaders of the five naval powers of the Washington Conference.  (GUIDE TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND DEPLOMACY by Michael G. Fry, Erik Goldstein, Richard Langhone.  Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002. 567 pages.)


Japan invaded Manchuria September 19, 1931. This escalated into an invasion through Manchuria.  The Rape of Nanking took place in December 13, 1933 lasting for 6 weeks with the loss of approximately 200,000 not counting those consumed in the flames or thrown into the Yangtze River.  Newly released U.S. government documents in 2007 reveals an additional toll of around 500,00 in the surrounding area.  (Wikipedia, Rape of Nanking).  This along with other advances of Japan into China was disrupting Pan Am’s ground plane connections, prompting traffic manager Kenneth H. Kennedy to be on the Hawaii Clipper bound for the orient. 

Clipper service was luxurious:  $360 one way to Honolulu, $799 to Manila, including limousine service to and from the airport, meals aloft complete with lounge chairs, sleepers, beverage service with porcelain and fine linen.  The crowds watching the Clippers being prepared for take-off at Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay, saw the passengers in furs and polo coats stepping into the aircraft docked alongside the Administration Building prior to departure. They saw a mode of travel within the reach of only a few.  But then again movies about rich people were very popular in the depression.   Even ordinary folk could enjoy the ambience of privileged travel across the Pacific evoked in these departures and arrivals and the thrilling image of the Flying Clipper as it ascended from the Bay and headed out our the Golden Gate Bridge, en route to the mysterious Orient.  (Starr, 1966)

Had the war not come with the development of long range planes Boeing would have built the Boeing 326.  Just 15 days after the 314 flew, Boeing and Pan Am publicly announced this next model – a giant flying boat airliner.  It was so large that tugboats were to be used during harbor maneuvers.  It was to be pressurized and capable of flying above the weather with 100 passengers.  The 326 was the result of a PAA contest in 1937 which resulted in four competing designs.  None were ever built.  But this technology was used in the stratoliner,   (

The plans of those days could not fly above the clouds, making it impossible to take a solar or star fix in overcast weather.  Sights were taken in a dome on top of the plane.  The plane’s true path and position over the earth became unknown in the presence of crosswinds, tail wind, or headwind.  These variables were determined by dropping a flare from a trapdoor in the wing.   By carefully watching the flare drop and measuring its angle of drop, the drift of the plane could be determined.  This correction was included in the calculations, and from this, a dead reckoning determination position could be obtained.   http://www.flyingclippers.comB314interior.html


1 ½ oz light or gold rum
½ oz of vermouth
1/2 tsp grenadine
Combine all ingredients and pour over cracked ice into chilled cocktail glass.

Charles Hill graduated, in 1972, cum laude, with honors in English, from the University of Cincinnati.  His Uncle starved to death as a Pacific POW victim.  Mr. Hill subsequently immersed himself in the study of the Pacific War and became fascinated by the Amelia Earhart story.

“. . . in November, 1989 Charles was invited to speak at Purdue University, at a symposium of the Amelia Earhart Research Consortium, a short lived organization of the best informed private Earhart researchers in the U.S.  Upon his arrival at Purdue, Charles learned, to this surprise, that Joe Gervais, of all researchers, was not scheduled to attend.  Contacted by phone, Joe firmly told Charles, ‘pack your bags and get out of Purdue,’ and explained that the ‘silent partner’ of the AERC was a C.I.A. operative and that the symposium was serving as a C.I.A. ‘sting’  operation, aimed at determining who knew what about Amelia Earhart.  Charles thought the Joe’s charge was too bizarre to be true, and so he foolishly ignored Joe’s warning.

Two weeks later, Charles was advised by his employers that he had been declared to be a ‘security risk’ and that he would have to be terminated as soon as he had completed a then-current project.  Since then, both he and his wife have found it nearly impossible to secure regular employment, yet the idea that they might be victims of a U.S. Government blacklist seemed as absurd as Gervais’ claim of a C. I. A. sting against Earhart researchers.  But, in 1996, the former ‘silent partner’ of the AERC advised Charles that he had been employed by the C.I.A. in 1989 and that the symposium had, indeed, served as a cover C.I.A. operation: the blacklist was quite real and continues to be an oppressive reality.”  (

Near the end of researching this paper, we were amazed to learn that Mark Walker (first officer on the Hawaii Clipper) was a naval pilot flying off the USS Saratoga in the early 1930s.  (Fix on the Rising Sun p22). Our father, Walter Leonard Taylor M.D. served on the Saratogaas a Medical Officer during this same time! 






Bender, Marilyn, and Selig Altschul, The Chosen Instrument: Pan Am, Juan Trippe, the Rise and Fall of an American Entrepreneur. Simon Schuster, New York, 1982.

Brock, Horace, More About Pam Am. Lunenberg, Vt. Stinehour, 1980.

Burden, William A. M. The Struggle for Airways in Latin America, New York: Council on Foreign Relations. is an extensive source of information on all the flying clippers.

Flynn George L. Escape of the Pacific Clipper, Branden Publishing Company, Boston, 1997

Gandt, Robert L. China Clipper: The Age of the Great Flying Boats , Navel Institute Press, 118 Maryland Ave,. Annapolis, Maryland 21402, 1991

Guide to International Relations and Diplomacy by Michael G. Fry, Erick Goldstein, Richard Langhone.  Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002. 567 Pages

Hallion, Richard P. Daniel and Harry Guggenheim and the Philanthropy of Flight, in Aviation’s Golden Age: Portraits from the 1920s and 1930s, edited by William M. Leary,
 Iowa City, University of Iowa Press, 1989

Hill, Charles N., Fix On The Rising Sun: The Clipper Hi-Jacking of 1938-and the Ultimate M.I.A.’S, 1st Books Library, 2000
html://www.boeing 314





Kevin Starr, US Endangered Dreams. The Great Depression in California.  Oxford University Press. 432 pages.

Klaas, M.D. Last of the Flying Clippers, The Boeing B-314 Story, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 4880 Lower Valley Rd., Atglen, PA. 1997

Schwartz, Rosalie, Flying down to Rio: Hollywood, Tourists, and  Yankee Clippers, Texas A&M University Press, College Station, 2004.

Sklar, Robert. Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of the American Movies, New York: Random House Books, 1994.

Taylor, W. Leonard.  America’s First Mathematician, Astronomer, and Philosopher; Nathaniel Bowditch.  Redlands Fortnightly Club

Thomas Kewin, The Pan Am Journey, Xlibris Corporation, 2005.

Trautman, James. Pan American Clippers: The Golden Age of Flying Boats, The Boston Mills Press, 2007.

Weirather, Larry. The China Clipper, Pan American Airways and Popular Culture,  McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Box 611, Jefferson, North Carolina 28640 (2007).

White, Francis, Aviation Files, Francis White Papers, H. Hoover Presidential Library. 
White, made a career in the Department of State, including Assistant Secretary of State
for Latin America from 1927 to 1933.  He, like Juan Trippe was a Yale Man, and a  fan of Pan Am.

Wikipedia.   Rape of Nanking

Wikipedia. Boeing 314

Wikipedia. Charles Lindbergh

Wikipedia.  Henry “Hap” Arnold

Wikipedia. Igor Sikorsky

Wikipedia.  William Lendrum “Billy” Mitchell

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