From: Chicago, Illinois
Here is a sample from his memior; it's very well written, 100 pages, sorry if this post is too long:
How to Total a Cub and Not Get Hurt
29 June 1944--After Wakde Island was secured, the 41st Division landed on Japanese occupied Biak Island, about 350 miles further west northwest and 50 miles off the north coast of New Guinea. It too, was a coral island, about 40 miles in diameter. It had two airfields that were to be used to support the invasion of the Philippines. Things did not go well there because there were bluffs with many caves that were not easily taken. As in many cases, the strength of the enemy was badly underestimated.
At Wakde, the 158th Infantry and the 149th Artillery formed the core of the 158th Regimental Combat Team(RCT), the only force availiable after the 163 RCT rejoined the 41st Infantry Division on Biak Island. That required us to pull in the perimeter, and in fact caused one of our batteries to be essentially part of the perimeter, until the 6th Infantry Division arrived on the scene.
When the 6th Division took over responsibility for the area, several things happened. First, a pyramidal tent was erected at the northwest end of the strip. This was an obstacle that wasn't too bad, but a crazy place to put a tent. Second, there was a temptation for vehicles to drive down the strip, so a barrier, consisting of two posts and a 2 x 8 was placed a few feet from the end of the strip. All of these things set the stage for my most serious accident.
Although we had a tight space, we regularly flew Capt Platz, the Assistant S-3 (Asst. Plans, Operations & Training Officer), who was unquestionably our best air observer. Only trouble, Platz weighed 240 pounds. With the radio, batteries, life raft, survival gear, life vests and a few smoke grenades, we went out about 90 pounds overweight. The southeast trade winds helped with a steady 8 to 10 MPH, but my plane ran off the end of the strip only once! One of the pilots buried his plane's nose and propeller in the sand 29 of 29 landings. The sand was a fine black basaltic, so we did not break any propeller. But the mechanics got much practice cleaning the air filters.
One afternoon, we had a half-inch general rain--not the thunderstorm that occurred frequently. With an overcast, the temperature was cooler. On my reconnaissance mission late in the day, was asked to take Cpl Herbert G. Mumkres from the Fire Direction Center (the section that calculated the data used to point the howitzers with the proper elevation and direction) with me. All went well until the landing. To land on such a short strip we were taught to bring the plane in nose high, just above a stall. We adjusted the rate of descent by changing the power setting. But with the nose high, the cowling on the engine blocked the view of the strip. So we came in with the right wing down and the plane pointed to the right. When we were over the end of the strip and about a foot above it, we chopped the throttle, and the plane stalled out. At the same time, we would kick the rudder to line up with the center of the strip. From then on, we could only see the strip's left edge to guide us to a stop
I had early symptoms of hepatitis. The battalion surgeon, Capt. Goldberg, had given me a sulfa, which can affect depth perception. He wasn't aware of the side effect and I had forgotten that they had mentioned this in flight school. As some would say, there was an accident waiting to happen!
The mission completed, the next move was to put L-4B, #43-1166, a modified civilian J-3 Cub with olive drab paint and a bigger greenhouse back on the ground. On the approach, the tent was the first obstacle properly passed. From there on, the rate of descent was a little greater. But no one will ever know if the cooler air made the rate of descent deceptively greater, or if my depth perception suffered, or my lethargy from being sick was the contributing cause.
The right wheel barely ticked the board at the end of the strip and threw the plane to the right. I put full throttle on, only to hit the first pile of sand with both wheels. Again, the speed was slowed, but the plane continued. Next, I hit the second revetment. Again, I got over it, but was slowed even more. The third time was too much, and the plane hit hard on the landing gear, spreading it. The left wing hit the ground, the landing gear folded, and the right wing took a hard lick. But the plane had completed its crazy ride. I asked, "Are you OK Corporal?" He quickly responded, "I think so".
We kind of rolled out on to the ground, and quickly got away from any possible fire. The thing that scared me most was the ground crew members that had scrambled when we were hitting the revetments. Fortunately nobody was in the way of the plane or the propeller.
It was time to take inventory. Neither of us had cuts or bruises. The propeller was shortened on both ends. Both wings were misshapen, but not badly. The landing gear was spread out. The fuselage was bent out of shape a bit. But the tail was ok. One spectator later said, "I don't see how anyone could get out of there alive".
My only thought--I was glad he was completely wrong.
The accident report commended the pilot for skillful flying and not wrecking more planes. The last sentence--"Recommendations for action to prevent repetition of this accident are that all obstructions to a normal landing and takeoff be removed and the strip be lengthened to at least 175 yards."
< Message edited by Q-Ball -- 4/16/2009 11:35:07 PM >