Ramrod To Munster – Page 2
Tom was on the radio alerting Air Sea Rescue about our predicament. My hands were full trying to get my plane back home to Fowlmere. I thought, “And this is Chet’s aircraft that I was supposed to take care of…”
My manifold pressure gauge was reading ten inches of mercury, the lowest reading on the dial. I had the trim tabs rolled back and the stick in my stomach in an effort to stretch my glide to the sea. I kept looking at my air speed and rate of descent.
We hit the coast of Holland and I was over the North Sea! Altitude seven thousand feet. At this altitude, atmospheric pressure was enough to give me the power to keep me aloft! I had hoped this would happen! As we hit the coast we were met by two P-47s from Air Sea Rescue. They were escorting me back. My rate of descent was now reading zero. Things were looking better!
Of course I had a few problems too. Oil pressure was now zero and oil temperature was 40oC. It was obvious that my problem was in the lubrication system.
I looked back and saw Tom. What a comfort! Still with me.
Down below the water was churning! I had to cool that engine somehow! If I could only get the oil in the bottom of the crankcase up on those cylinder walls!
That’s it! I started to rock the plane violently in uncoordinated movements.
It worked! The oil temperature started to go down!
Tom asked what I was doing. “Lubricating the engine!” I said. I kept looking ahead for the English coast line.
Then Tom called “White two, I see the coast.” We were going to make it! Great news!
Then it happened! A run-away prop! While I tried to keep it from changing pitch, all hell broke loose! The coolant boiled out and smoke and oil filled the cockpit. The engine sounded like someone was pounding on it with a sledge hammer. The heat in the cockpit was unbearable!
I looked at the altimeter 300 feet! Minimum altitude for bailing out was 250 feet. It would be close but I had no choice. As much as I disliked it, the time had come for me and the aircraft to part company!
“This is it Tom. I’m bailing out!”
Then I lowered my seat, pulled my goggles over my eyes, lowered my head and released the canopy. I tore off my oxygen mask and detached everything that tied me to the plane.
Just before I disconnected my earphones, I heard Archie Towers’ * voice on the radio. He must have been monitoring the whole thing back at Gas Pump **.
“Say again upper five four! I didn’t understand!”
* Archie Towers: 505th Operations Officer.
** Gas Pump: Code name for our airfield’s control tower