"Seattle" lost?About noon we received a message from Chignik that Maj. Martin had started out 10:10 local time and since then not a word have we heard. Where he is or what happened, we have no idea and of course everyone is worried. Repeated efforts to raise Chignik have failed & possibly the operator heard of Martin's landing near there and has gone out to help.
By Lt. L.P. Arnold, "Chicago" Mechanic
The Algonquin is at False Pass where it is organizing searching parties from various towns
in that vicinity; and the Haida leaves at midnight to join the search.
The World Flight is currently at Attu Island finishing up maintenance tasks and preparing their planes for the flight to Paramushiru, Japan, the next scheduled stop.
"Seattle" crew found: Maj. Frederick L. Martin and SSgt. Alva L. Harvey were found today. The two men left Chignik, Alaska, flying the Douglas World Cruiser on the morning of April 30 and disappeared later that day. No trace of the plane or crew was found until the men were picked up at Moller Bay today by a launch and transported to the cannery at Port Moller where they arrived at 6 p.m. Details of the flyer's ordeal are sketchy at this point, but the two men apparently walked from the crash site of their plane, "Seattle," to Port Moller over the 11 days they were missing.
OUR ORDEAL By Maj. F.L. Martin, "Seattle" PilotMay 3: At the break of day on the morning of May 3rd, we retraced our steps and returned to the airplane that afternoon as no wood for a fire was available within several miles of the position of the plane. Sergeant Harvey's eyes were in a very aggravated condition. He could hardly see although he was wearing amber colored goggles which we had taken with us on leaving the airplane. With Boracic acid taken from the first aid kit, the inflammation was reduced to nearly normal by the following morning.
April 30: We arose at 4:00 a.m., on the morning of the 30th, and found it calm but snowing. It cleared at 7:30 a.m., but weather reports were not received from Dutch Harbor until 10:00 a.m. which would indicate that it was possible to leave Chignik. We decided to leave but had considerable trouble in getting the oil warm. We left at 11:00 a.m., the weather calm with the sky overcast. On the recommendation of Mr. Osmund, the Superintendent of the Cannery, and with the information that the other members of the flight had taken a short cut over a portage, northwest of Chignik, we turned to the north out of Chignik Bay instead of south as the course had been laid out. In trying to cross the portage which was supposed to be low ground, we found ourselves flying directly toward a mountain with no water in sight. Thinking we had turned too sharply in leaving Chignik lagoon, I turned the plane and returned to the lagoon where I took a course over level ground more directly in line with the lagoon.
After flying this course a short distance we came to mountains with level ground extending to the northward. Thinking but a slight change of direction necessary, I flew northward a short distance when level ground was visible to the westward. Being out over the land with pontoons caused the greatest concern for safety. At this point, the blue water of the sea was plainly visible to the westward, seemingly but a short distance away. The plane was headed for this in an effort to arrive over the salt water in safety with the least possible delay. The ceiling now was about 200 feet. We did not seem to get near the salt water but pushed on, notwithstanding the fact that we were approaching a fog. I had a very strong tendency to return to Chignik lagoon and take the course as had been previously laid out, but feeling that we could reach the water by flying over land for a much less distance, I continued in the direction we were going.
The fog became very dense and forced us down near the ground. Progressing a short distance into the fog, still not finding the water and knowing that we had left mountains behind us, I thought our greatest safety lay in climbing through the fog which I felt was purely a local condition. The plane was heavily laden with 200 gallons of gasoline and oil to insure a considerable factor of safety in reaching Dutch Harbor in case storms were encountered. It climbed very slowly. We had been climbing several minutes when I had a glimpse of some bare spots on the mountain where the snow had blown away just as the plane crashed.
Sergeant Harvey had suffered no ill-effects from the shock and I had the left lens of my goggles broken, a slight abrasion at the corner of my left eye and my nose bleeding from a blow at the bridge of my nose. The right pontoon had struck the incline at a point where a steep rise of 1000 feet had suddenly changed to a more gentle slope and the plane had come to rest about 200 feet up on this slope on the snow. The fuselage was canted over to the right at an angle of about forty-five degrees. The right pontoon was under and to the left of the fuselage with the left pontoon near by. The pontoon and pontoon struts were crushed and torn loose from the fuselage. The right lower wing was completely demolished. The right upper wing pulled back about half way between its original position and the tail of the plane. The left lower wing was slightly damaged and the upper left wing intact. The propeller was broken but the fuselage and tail surfaces were not damaged. Our despair was a terrible experience. Further participation in the Round-the-World flight was at an end. We thoroughly appreciated our plight as we knew this part of the Western Peninsula to be uninhabited, excepting by a few people at considerable distance apart along the shore lines.
We then selected from the equipment on board such supplies as were needed and could be carried comfortably and prepared our packs for hiking. We ate the few sandwiches which had been prepared for lunch by Mrs. Osmond, wife of the Superintendent of the cannery at Chignik, but found that the thermos bottle containing the coffee had been broken. This alarmed us as the only food which we had, with the exception of about a dozen malted milk tablets, was in liquid form in two thermos bottles. We were much relieved to find these thermos bottles intact. This concentrated food, called W.H.Y., prepared by the Barlett Nu Products Corporation, Pasadena, California, had been purchased by me at Los Angeles, California, for just such an emergency. It contains the essential parts of raisins, figs, walnuts, peanuts, barley, wheat and celery. Two quarts of this concentrated food beverage was placed in each airplane as the Army emergency rations were too heavy and bulky to be carried on the airplanes where it was so essential to limit the weight to the minimum and as they would be bulky and heavy if their use was to extend over any considerable period of time.
At 2:00 p.m., we started up the side of the mountain on which we had crashed. We estimated that we were about ten miles from the coast line on the Pacific Coast of the peninsula separated therefrom by a range of mountains. The small compass which I had was broken. We would have been forced to use the compass on the airplane which was heavy and inconvenient if it had not been due to the fact that just prior to leaving Chanute Field, Corporal Foster, a friend of Sergeant Harvey, had given him a small card compass in a leather case. This we fastened to the strap of the field glasses and departed.
The fog was very dense and was so white as to blend completely with the snow. The snow was deep and smooth, leaving practically no objects visible. This experience was very peculiar as the vision was limited to a very few feet. It was found to be impossible to walk in a straight line as our sense of balance seemed to be affected. It was necessary to stop very frequently and check out course with the compass. Invariably we found that we were walking other than the desired direction. The slope of the mountain varied but probably was rising at an angle at about thirty degrees. The top surface of the ground was not broken and the ground was only gently rolling. After walking until 4 o'clock the same conditions prevailed so we returned to the airplane as it did not seem likely we would find a place where shelter and wood could be found before darkness fell. We followed our foot steps in the snow. They were visible for a hundred feet or more and as the trail was broken, walking was less difficult. By walking rapidly, we returned to the airplane in 17 minutes. Here we prepared for the night by picking up broken parts of the airplane for fuel, putting on our heavy flying suits which we had not been able to carry with us on account of the weight and starting a small fire on the snow, waited for darkness.
May 1: We arose on the morning of May 1st to find the fog as thick as it was the day before. We decided to remain until the fog lifted in order to better get our location and be protected from walking over a precipice or a steep declivity in the mountains. As conditions did not change, we remained with the airplane all this day and night.
During the day we did what we could to make ourselves more comfortable. We dragged the top right wing around to the left side of the plane and fastened it to the rear edge of the top left wing. Our fire had melted the snow which was sort of a glacial formation of snow and ice until it had formed quite a pit.
We took the metal cowling from the sides of the plane to place under the fire. With a small spade, a part of the equipment on each plane, we cut out the snow and ice in chunks about one foot square and with these built a wall under the wings, this we banked with loose snow to keep out the wind. This made a great difference in conserving the little heat which was given off from our fire and we were much more comfortable. We had smoking tobacco, cigarettes and matches, but the matches were conserved by using brands from the fire to light our pipes and cigarettes.
May 2: On the morning of May 2nd, as the fog still existed, we decided to try to make our way to the Pacific Coast shore line which we thought to be just across the mountain range, a distance of about 10 miles. Our hydrographic charts were of no value to us as they did not show the interior with such a degree of accuracy as to be useful. I was clothed in light weight, woolen underwear, olive drab woolen shirt, the ordinary woolen service uniform, chamois golfing vest and cotton overalls; on my feet, heavy woolen socks, ordinary walking shoes and four buckle arctics. Sergeant Harvey was clothed in light weight, woolen underwear, woolen breeches, olive drab shirt, chamois vest, sweater and cotton overalls; on his feet he had heavy woolen socks and a pair of heavy high top shoes. By permitting the one breaking the trail through the snow to precede the one following by 100 feet, it was possible to guide the leader in more nearly a straight line. In this way we succeeded in passing over the mountain to the southward and down its sides to a small creek. Pushing on southward, we climbed to the top of a steep mountain whose surface was not broken to any great extent. At this time the fog lifted slightly, just in time to save us from imminent danger. Directly in front of us and but 4 or 5 paces distant the mountain sloped down so abruptly that it would have been impossible to have retained one's footing and which would have meant that we would have slipped down into the canyon about 1500 feet. Realizing the futility of trying to find a passage through the mountains in the fog, we returned to the creek we had just crossed knowing that this would eventually take us to the shore line if followed.
We walked down the creek although this ran in a northwesterly direction or toward the Bering Sea. As we were not forced to climb any hills, we made excellent progress over comparative level ground. Sergeant Harvey was experiencing considerable difficulty with his eyes which were badly inflamed. This was partly due to smoke from the fires, the remainder caused by snow blindness. We walked down stream from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This time we had emerged from a small canyon through which the stream flowed to be confronted with a level marshy land. The visibility was so poor that it was impossible to see more than 4 or 5 miles, so nothing much could be learned as to how far it was to the shore line. As it was necessary to make camp, get our supplies and fuel together before darkness, we located an alder thicket where a few dead alders could be obtained for fuel and made camp on the snow by cutting green branches with our knives to keep us out of the snow and starting a fire around which we sat during the night.
As our clothing was just sufficient to make us comfortable when exercising freely, it was far from being sufficient during the night as we gained but little heat from the small fire which we could maintain. It was impossible to lie down as it was necessary that one be constantly vigilant to keep the fire burning, we rested but little. We had decided that night that it would be unwise to attempt to reach the shore line on the Bering Sea as this would probably be 20 miles northward from our camp and no doubt the swampy land we had observed the night before would be dangerous, as the ice was not sufficiently strong to hold our weight as it had started to thaw. Then too, we had been informed that few inhabitants could be found on the Bering Sea shores. Should we succeed in reaching this shore, we would be confronted with a further difficulty of obtaining fuel for fires as there is no drift wood on these shores.
With our flying suits, helmets, fleece-lined moccasins and fur gloves, we took shelter in the baggage compartment of the fuselage. As this could not be righted from the position it was laying, we were forced to sleep on the right side of the fuselage which was laying at an angle of about forty-five degrees. While there was sufficient length to this space, it was only about two and one-half feet wide. As we were both large men, our sleeping quarters were much crowded and the man on the lower side was forced to support a part of the weight of the one above. We slept but little as we were very cold, cramped and uncomfortable.
May 4: At 7 o'clock the following morning [May 4th], the fog lifted to an altitude of about 3000 feet. To the southeast of our position, the mountain we had struck rose to an altitude of about 2500 feet. We climbed in this direction until reaching its summit. From this view point we could see no opening to the southward. The mountains were very rugged, rising as a sheer wall of rock to well above the fog line. But, to the southwest, with the aid of our field glasses, we saw a lake, we started for the lake at 11:00 a.m. At 4:30 that afternoon, we were still 3 or 4 miles from the lake. This made it necessary for us to select an alder thicket and make camp for the night. During the day, we succeeded in killing, with an Army pistol, two ptarmigans, a native bird of Alaska, much like our domestic pigeon but about twice the size. We prepared one of these that night for supper and cooked it in the meat can of my mess outfit which I had with me. This was a great delicacy, notwithstanding the fact that we had no fat or salt and used water to keep the meat from being burned. The other bird was prepared for breakfast. The instructions we had received with our concentrated food beverage prescribed two teaspoonfuls per person, per meal. We had increased this to three teaspoonfuls.
May 5: Early the next morning [May 5th], we started again for the lake, reaching it about noon. We scanned the lake with field glasses but could not locate a cabin or any indication of humanity. My eyes were now giving me considerable trouble from snow blindness. I was wearing the amber lens goggles. Even then, I could only see with difficulty. As our safety seemed to lay in finding a pass through the mountains to the southward and as there was a lake and streams indicated on our maps which conformed very closely with those which we had crossed and those in the vicinity of the lake, we thought that by following the stream at the southernmost point of the lake we would arrive at Ivanof Bay.
We expected to find the stream flowing from the southernmost point of the lake southward, emptying into the bay, but much to our disappointment, it was flowing in the opposite direction. Hoping to find a pass in the mountains at such an elevation as would be possible to climb, we followed the stream. The valley between the mountains at this point was about 3 miles wide, low marshy land from which the snow had partly melted leaving tufts of high grass sticking through. The ground around these hummocks of grass was lower and covered with water; in places it was very soft.
On account of the condition of my eyes, it was necessary for Sergeant Harvey to lead the way which he did with the greatest determination, continuing to walk doggedly on, notwithstanding the fact that we were very weak and exhausted. At two o'clock that afternoon, finding a very desirable location and myself being practically exhausted on account of the exertion and extra handicap of being partially snow blind together with the weight of my heavy arctics, we made camp in the dry bed of a small stream coming down from the mountains.
This was the first night we had had shelter as all the thickets were always out on level, exposed ground. Although the wind had not yet blown with such velocity as to exceed 10 miles per hours, it was very cold and disagreeable. We had plenty of dead wood for fuel and with grass from the marsh made a bed on which each of us had about 4 hours sleep. The first real rest we had experienced since the crash. Each night immediately after getting the fire to burning nicely, it was necessary on account of our feet being wet to remove our shoes, replace our socks with dry ones which we carried in our haversacks, dry our shoes and dry the wet socks which were placed in our haversacks for the next night. This was a difficult task in the open, over a small fire and usually occupied our time until about 9 o'clock. It took but little time for our meals which consisted of placing our liquid food in a cup partly filled with water and drinking it.
May 6: On the morning of May 6th, we continued our march through the swamp. After going about 3 miles, our progress was less difficult. A number of dry stream beds were found which no doubt were filled with water from the mountains during the summer when the snow was melting and which we followed until we reached the point where the stream passed into the mountain. Here the snow was very deep and the alders extended from the side of the stream to well up on the sides of the mountain. The crust of the snow had weakened until we were breaking through frequently. We struggled through this for some distance, finally climbing the side of a mountain to better determine which branch of the stream to follow in order to reach the divide. From this vantage point, it seemed that it was best to continue in the direction we were walking. We found that by following a mountain side a short distance above the valley, the crust of the snow was much harder and better progress could be made.
At this point, the stream we had been following ended. The valley to the front was about a mile wide and comparatively level. This lasted for about 3 miles when we came upon the source of another stream flowing southward. This was our first real hope as this stream, no doubt, would take us to the shore line. Travel became extremely difficult and from our previous struggle during that day, we were in a very weakened condition. At 3:00 p.m., we halted to let Sergeant Harvey investigate a small canyon in the mountain at the side of the valley as a possible camp site. Upon his return, he reported that there was no possibility of a camp site in the canyon but that he had seen a body of water to the southward, approximately three miles distant. We were too exhausted to cover this distance that night and made our camp among the alders on about 4 feet of snow. We were so weakened as to make it necessary to support ourselves by holding on to the alders, while we were gathering up our fire wood and there was a slight wind from the north which chilled us to the bone.
May 7: At 3:30, the next morning [May 6th], we departed following the edge of the stream wherever possible as it was very fatiguing to attempt to walk through the snow. At 7:30 a.m., we arrived at the body of water which had been seen by Sergeant Harvey the day before to find that it was salt water and after resting a few minutes, we examined the shore lines carefully with the field glasses but saw no signs of humanity. As we started to walk along the beach, we observed a small cabin on the beach about a half mile distant. Upon arriving at this cabin, we found it to have been recently deserted, probably within the last twenty-four hours.
Upon examination a scant amount of food was located; flour, salted salmon, bacon fat, baking powder, dried peaches, condensed milk, syrup and coffee. There was also a quantity of wood cut for a small heating stove and about a pint of oil left for a small oil stove. The cabin was very small and all the bedding had been removed when the owner left. After preparing some hot cakes, of which we could eat but two as this was the capacity of our stomachs at that time, we made ourselves as comfortable as possible and slept. We awakened in about four hours as we were cold having removed part of our clothing upon retiring and the fire had died out.
May 8: On the morning of May 8th, it was snowing violently which continued throughout the day; it changed into rain during the night and continued to rain until 9 o'clock on the morning of the ninth.
May 9: We had had no rain, snow or wind, of any considerable velocity, from the time we had crashed until we reached the cabin. We took a short walk that morning [May 9th] to accurately locate ourselves on the map, but due to poor visibility were not sure of our location but thought that we were on Moller Bay on the Bering Sea side of the peninsula, much to our surprise. This was accurately determined that afternoon by a reconnaissance trip by Sergeant Harvey while I prepared wild ducks which were killed that day at noon at the cabin with a rifle belonging to the trapper. Sergeant Harvey returned from his trip with two snow shoe rabbits, Alaskan hare, which gave us an ample supply of food for at least one more day. We had not until that day regained our strength. Our charts had marked on them Port Moller with no indication of a village or cannery, but on a case containing condensed milk, we found the stamp of Port Moller Cannery. We were not sure that this was occupied as yet due to the ice in the Bering Sea. Moller Bay was a mass of floating ice.
We arose early the next morning [May 10th] feeling quite strong to find the day calm and clear. After a hearty breakfast of rabbit, pancakes and gravy, and putting the cabin in excellent order, we left for Port Moller, a distance of 25 miles. We made excellent progress along the beach, with the exception of 3 or 4 miles where the rocks from the cliffs, as large as ordinary dwellings, extended down to the waters edge. It was easier to climb over these than to pass them by climbing through the snow over the tops of the mountains. This impeded our progress a great deal. We arrived at the narrowest spit which extends well out into the bay near Port Moller at 4 p.m. From this point we could see the wireless mast and smoke stack at the camp. While we were wondering whether we would find the cannery inhabited, smoke came from the stack, which gave us the information desired. After crossing the spit which was about a mile wide, we were approached by a launch coming from the cannery. In this launch there were two native men and three native women who had been on their way from the cannery to a native village at what is called "Hot Springs" on the western side of Moller Bay.
The man in charge of this launch was Mr. Jake Oroloff, a native, who took us across the bay a distance of about two and one-half miles to the cannery. We arrived at the cannery at 6 p.m., Saturday, May 10th. Here we were greeted by the Superintendent of the Cannery and other employees who were overjoyed to see us.
Relieving us of our haversacks and with no further ceremony, he showed us where we could wash our faces and hands and sat us down to a table laden with food splendidly prepared. The amount of food we ate was a splendid testimonial of our appreciation of it. As there was a wireless station at the cannery, messages were forwarded that evening to the Chief of Air Service and our relatives. We were safe at last and could completely relax. We never will forget the joy of that night's sleep in a comfortable bed protected from the cold.
May 12: On Monday, May 12th, an offer was received from Mr. Shields, Vice-President of the Pacific American Fisheries Company, Bellingham, Washington, for Sergeant Harvey and myself to be guests of the company as passengers on the steamship Catherine D, which was due to leave Port Moller May 13th. We learned that all vessels at points along these shores had searched for days to effect our rescue. This included the boats of all canneries, those belonging to the Coast and Geodetic Survey and those of the Coast Guard Service; also dogteams had been sent inland from Chignik.
The Algonquin had been dispatched to pick us up at Port Moller and left Dutch Harbor at 4:00 a.m., May 11th. Not knowing of this until the afternoon of May 11th when a radio message was received to that effect, they were informed that passage could be obtained on the Catherine D and the Algonquin returned to Dutch Harbor.
On the morning of April 6, 1924, the four rugged Douglas biplanes on pontoons lifted skyward and headed toward Alaska. The route took them northward to Sitka, Cordova, and Chignik, then westward to Dutch Harbor. However, Martin and Harvey, battling fog and high winds on the segment between Chignik and Dutch Harbor, became lost and crashed on a mountainside near Port Moller on the west side of the Alaska Peninsula. The Coast Guard immediately started a search.
Martin received minor injuries, but both managed to make a difficult 10-day hike to a cannery where they reported by radio that they were safe. They returned to the States on a fisheries steamer. Smith, next ranking man, was made acting commander and received orders at Dutch Harbor "to proceed to Japan at the earliest possible moment." The three remaining airplanes landed at Atka and Attu where they were delayed for several days because of the infamous Aleutian williwaws before continuing to Japan. Meanwhile, Navy ships carried fuel, spare parts, and supplies to the Japanese stops. Airforce Magazine article by C.V.Glines