August 4, 1924


The Boston sank when it was being towed after it had been forced to come down in the Atlantic Ocean.

Daily Flight Information
The World Flight will remain in Hornafjord, Iceland, for at least one day because of the forced landing of "Boston."

Daily Report   -  By Lt. L.H. Smith, Commanding -
Today the following radiogram was received from Lieut. Wade:

"For Lieut. Smith - USS Raleigh
Everything loosened and badly strained STOP All wings damaged STOP Propeller broken STOP New pontoons necessary STOP Center sections slightly damaged COMMA repairs possible STOP New engine necessary STOP Upon arrival Faroe Islands this morning will make further reports STOP Thanks for early message.

From the above radiogram and the fact that all supplies necessary to repair the plane were available, it was felt that the "Boston" would again join the flight. However, a few hours later, the same day, the following message was received:

"From A9W - Richmond  -  To Raleigh - GR 18 - 0004   -  For Lt Smith - Hornafjord
Plane three total loss Richmond sailing Reykjavik to arrive early afternoon Tuesday 0530.

After this radio message was received, all hopes were given up and plans made for the "Chicago" and "New Orleans" to continue immediately.

Forced landing of "Boston"   -  By Lt. L.H. Smith, Commanding

The incidents in connection with the landing of the "Boston" and its abandonment were later found to be as follows: The pilot noticed the oil pressure suddenly fall to zero after which the engine began showing signs of the lack of oil to bearings. Realizing the motor would soon "freeze", the pilot landed at 10:56 a.m., at Long. 3° 28' W, Lat. 60° 40' N. As the sea was rough and running in cross direction from the wind, the shock of landing broke the two left vertical wires. Upon landing, signals were given to the "Chicago" which was circling above, to proceed for help as repairing the engine was impossible. One vertical wire was then repaired to strengthen the plane for riding the rough sea. The personnel then watched for boats, to signal for help. At 2 p.m., a boat was sighted on the horizon but the "very" signals fired did not attract its attention and it passed from the view about 2:30 p.m. At 2:45 p.m., a second boat was sighted and, after picking up the signals from the plane, came along side at 3:30 p.m. A tow line equipped with floats was thrown overboard by the boat and picked up from one of the pontoons of the plane. The boat was the trawler "Rugby of Ramsey". At 4:00 p.m., it began to tow the plane to the Faroe Islands. This proved to be most difficult due to the rough sea and the cross wind. The swells caused a continual jerking of the plane as the trawler and plane were alternately hit by the swells. At 4:50 p.m., the destroyer U.S.S. Billingsby came along side and the tow line was transferred. When the U.S.S. Richmond appeared, the tow line was again transferred. Shortly after, a decision was reached to hoist the plane aboard the Richmond. The hoisting was started as quickly as possible, as the plane left the water and was about 3 feet in the air, the tackle, due to a sudden roll of the ship, carried away, dropping the boom on the plane. Three compartments of the left pontoon were punctured; the propeller was broken, and holes staved in the center section and upper left wing. There seemed to be three possible solutions to the situation at this point: first, to keep the plane afloat in the lee until after the storm subsided; second, disassemble the plane and save the fuselage; and third, to attempt towing again. The first decision was to try the first solution and while the pontoon was being repaired, the plane was stripped and work was rushed to repair the boom. This was soon abandoned due to the continued increasing intensity of the sea. The third plan of towing was then resorted to and the plane rode through the night, suffering greatly, however, from the rough sea.

At 5:30 the morning of the 4th, the plane capsized as a result of its becoming so water logged, the left pontoon parted at the front spreader bar and caused the tow line to part. The gasoline tanks were left open in order to assure its sinking, affording no menace to shipping, was then abandoned as it was decided that it was impossible to save the plane in any manner. Throughout the time following the breaking of the boom, the work on the plane was carried out under extreme difficulty and with great risk to the personnel engaged. Breakers were only a mile to leeward. The Richmond then proceeded to Reykjavik, carrying aboard the crew of the "Boston".

Source: Report of the Round the World Flight by Lt. L.H. Smith. ©USAF Academy Library Special Collections Division, Maj. Gen. Leigh Wade Collection.    FROM: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=1195