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Ketchum, Paul M. (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Volume 42, Number 6 (March 1938)

Waitkus, Felix
Trans-Atlantic flight,   pp. 103-105


Page 104


and dead reckoning navigation was decided upon, arrange-
ments having been made with a broadcasting station in
Athione, Ireland, to broadcast music and weather reports
for 15 minutes of every hour.
   After a number of calculations had been made to deter-
mine the equipment needed, locations and factors of
safety, ordering and installations proceeded. After hav-
ing difficulties with the mechanics and trouble in getting
some special equipment, such as landing gear and tanks
from the plane manufacturers, we decided to undertake
the work ourselves. The writer and Mr. Anton Brotz, di-
rector of research of the Kohler Company, who being
closely linked with aviation and whose sincere whole-
hearted support and wealth of engineering experience
made him the most qualified person I could have chosen
to supervise the designing and construction of the vital
parts.
  Upon the completion of construction and the installa-
tions of tanks, engine, pumps, instruments, all done at
Kohler, Wisconsin, the ship was flown to New York City,
where the final test flights were made, instruments and
radio calibrated, propeller blade angle range adjusted, and
motor tuned up (even though it was a new one). Although
our calculations appeared to be correct, the utmost in con-
fidence in them was not attained until actual load tests
were performed, first with about 450 gallons of gas
aboard then with 670 gallons. Each time, of course, most
of the gas had to be dumped, for with such loads a bumpy
landing at about 80 or 90 miles per hour might have col-
lapsed the landing gear, causing eventually the complete
destruction of the craft. Even in dumping, numerous pre-
cautions had to be taken to prevent fires or even explo-
sions due to possible accumulation and discharge of static
electricity or sparks from the engine's exhaust. Needless
to say, the ignition switches were cut during the dumping
process. I have often wished that I were on the ground to
witness the dumping, as they say the white Lockheed
seemed to be waving a long white plume of gasoline. It
must have been beautiful in the sparkling sunlight.
  With this final t es t
completed, t h e r e was
nothing else to do but to
wait for suitable weather
conditions.
  Although it was im-
possible to expect good
flying conditions o v e r
the entire 4,700 miles of
the c o u r s e, somehow
that year, 1935, seemed
to have had a number of
tornadoes which started
off in the Gulf of Mex-
ico, went through Flor-
ida, then up along the
Atlantic seaboard, a n d
onto my course. With         The "Lithuania II," a Lock1hee
the plane normally weighing 4,750 pounds, fully loaded
to weigh nearly 8,000 pounds, naturally the factor of
safety in the structural members was low, only 31V2, and to
run into one of these violent storms would have been sui-
cide. So while waiting for weather to be favorable, we
rode merry-go-rounds and roller coasters in Coney Island
for the thrill of it. They are a lot of fun.
   Finally the day arrived. With Dr. Kimball of the
weather bureau working almost all night on weather maps,
it was decided that as good weather as could be expected
at that time of the year was at hand. So the following
morning at dawn, with only my wife and a few friends and
diplomats around, I jumped in and took off. In a dead
calm after a run of 2,400 feet and attaining a speed of
110 M. P. H., the plane left the ground on its questionable
way.
  The first two or three hours were the most doubtful
ones in the flight. With the heavy load it was not possible
to gain much in speed without a disproportionate increase
in fuel consumption, with the result that cylinder head
temperature was running about 4600 F., oil temperature
about 210f F. So after skimming across Long Island
Sound and over house tops on the other side and waking
up their occupants (I hate to think of what they probably
said), I decided to start a gradual climb, since the motor
was holding together and temperatures were getting no
higher.
  The air was calm, cool, and clear, and it didn't seem at
all as if I were actually on a long flight. But there was no
time for day-dreaming; the radio had to be worked fre-
quently and checked against the computed compass course,
and all other instruments watched for possible maladjust-
ments in the engine or accessories.
  The weather to Nova Scotia was perfect, but when less
than half way across it, fog began to appear, fog which
grew thicker and higher the further the plane progressed.
The plane, flying then at 4,000 feet, was still too heavy to
climb as fast as the slope of the fog bank, and about half
way across Nova Scotia I was flying entirely by instruments.
                                Expecting the f o g to
                                clear by the time New-
foundland was reached,
the last landmark on this
side of the ocean, I kept
on. U p o n arrival at
Newfoundland, the fog
persisted, so it was nec-
essary to I o c a t e the
plane's position, first by
taking a radio bearing
on St. John's radio sta-
tion, then flying normal
to this b e a r in g for a
fixed distance, and final-
ly again toward the same
station, thus obtaining
rega, cruising speed 170 m.p.h.   two radio bearings from
The Wisconsin Engineer
_ _ , . . ,
.XI
Pat-e 104)Z


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