New Yank Plane"
Actual photo of one of the bent wings.
Can you make a
Gooney Bird look like a Corsair? 2nd
Lt. Julius H. Peterson did! Here is his story direct from his own
Julius H. Petersen
Pilot, 43rd Troop Carrier Squadron
We had already flown 3,000 miles when we finally reached Prestwick,
Scotland. on December 12, 1942. We then were given two days off to
rest. Our last hop to Aldermaston was going to be a walk in the clover
after our long-haul over the North Atlantic during early winter.
I was flying left seat, and Sig Matson was my co-pilot. We were good
friends, even though he outranked me, and we had always taken turns
in the left seat. In addition to my navigator and radioman, we had
eight passengers and a ton of equipment. The ceiling was overcast
and high, with scattered cloud at 1,000 feet. The first leg over water
to the Isle of Man was a breeze. As we turned east toward the coast
of northern Wales, the low level cloud increased. My navigator, Woodrow
White, told me that we still had altitude over the Berwyn Hills in
Sig was struggling
with the controls right along with me. In fact, it seemed as if we were
both trying to pull the controls away from each other.
at 1:900 feet when we entered another thick cloud layer. We
lost sighr of the lead aircraft. Mushing through the douds,
I was astonished to see green trees emerge from the gray douds
coming straight at us. I yanked back the yoke, and slipped the
bird into a right turn when the right wing thumped against a
hill top. I immediately turned to the left, and experienced
happened very fast. The bird was starting to stall, but fortunately,
the peaks were already behind us. I put the nose down to pick
up speed, and managed not to hit anything else as the bird flew
down the contours of the butte.
We finally regained
control, and as I regained my breath, I glanced out the window. I
was flabbergasted to see the last six feet of the wing standing vertically.
I told Sig what I saw, and he looked out the· right window
and reported the preposterous fact that the end of other wingwas also
bent straight up.
Our ailerons were gone, so turning was a serious problem, but we were
still flying. Woody looked at his maps and reported that there was
an airfield ahead of us. It was labeled Montford Bridge, and looked
good to us.
Fortunately, we were flying lined up with the runway, but I knew that
if I dropped the landing gear, we would loose airspeed. I was going
to put her down, wheels up on the grass parallel to the runway. I
let the bird down slowly, and the wheels projecting from the well
smoothly rolled along the grass. We thumped along the grass until
we ran across another runway that crossed the main one, and finally
came to a stop.
Everybody got out of the plane, and two bottles of brandy were passed
around. and. drained. in record. time. The RAF officer on duty in
the control tower was quoted as saying, "What bloody new type
of plane have the Yanks come up with now!" as our odd-looking
silhouette came in for a landing. We did get to Aldermaston by nightfall,
but not in a C-47. It was ignominious arrival for an aviator- to arrive
at his new base under canvas in·the back of a truck.
Full Crew and passengers
1. Sigurd M. Matson 1st Lt. 43rd Pilot
2. Julius H. Peterson 2nd Lt. 43rd Co-Pilot
3. Woodrow W. White 2nd Lt. 43rd Navigator
4. Donald T. Anstett Sgt. 43rd Crew Chief
5. John F. Cipolla S/Sgt 43rd Radio Op.
6. Oscar W. Hunt Pfc 43rd Ass. Crew Chief
7. William d. McRae 1st Lt. 43rd Intelligence Officer
8. Thomas L. Pugh S/Sgt 43rd Passenger
9. Robert C. Yeckley S/Sgt. Hq.
10. William E. O'Brien Sgt. Hq.
11. Howard W. Tresise Cpl.
12. James J. McCarroll Cpl.