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The party was on St. Valentine’s day and since then most of my time has been put in on this Student Federalist work. I had the check canceled — duplicate enclosed. The news items had to do with arrival and maiden voyages of Woodley’s new Douglas transports. Two of them are here and the third is due to arrive this week. They are really fine ships even to the extent of being pronounced of finer interior than any of this particular type operated by any of the major lines in the states. The ship is the latest model of the twin-engine Douglas (C117 A). It was built for the Army on contract which was canceled and Woodley got it. They were for transportation of the “Brass” and were beautifully appointed for that reason. The model is a very successful one although its design is almost obsolete. (It was first produced around 1935 and was used almost universally by the big airlines in the country up to the declaration of war. Then the Army took most of them from the airlines and all the new production of this model (DC3 or Army C47). Douglas is finishing out their production on these last 150 ships, then they will go into production on their new pusher models (the DC7, I believe). We are taking three and possibly two more of these last 150 planes. They cost approximately $135,000.00 each. The airlines in the states are still operating the old DC3’s on most of their routes, so you could say we are operating better equipment than they are. The ships carry a pilot, a co-pilot and a stewardess. There are luxurious seats for 21 passengers. With each ticket purchased one finds himself welcomed and seated in the plane by a rather attractive uniformed stewardess. His seat is finished in an attractive soft gray-green ribbed upholstery. The armrests and skirts are tan leatherette and the base molding is aluminum. The floor is carpeted with a green rug and the walls and ceiling are the same soft shade as the seats and have aluminum stripes running across over the top and down the sides about every 3 feet from front to back of the cabin. Should the passenger want to recline, he may move a lever and the seat tilts back to a very comfortable degree or he may stop at any intermediate position he desires. An ashtray is at his fingertips. There is a pocket for papers, etc., which he might be carrying, right in front of him on the seat-back of the chair in front. If the sun comes in through the window to strongly he can draw the cream and tan curtains closed, and if cold or hungry, a push on the call chime will bring the stewardess with a P.N.A.- monogrammed blanket or a light lunch served from the buffet with coffee or a fruit juice to drink. After dark he may turn on his individual reading light and the stewardess will bring him a recent copy of some magazine which suits his taste. The pilot, too, may be relaxing, occasionally glancing at his instruments and resetting the automatic pilot for a change in course or just to check its operation. Then he sits back comfortably and enjoys the scenery along with the co-pilot. His radio equipment is the most modern and with that he can fly in nearly any kind of weather with comparative safety. Radar and blind landings are still in the future but he is creeping up on them.
The same day I lost that letter I was a passenger in one of the old Boeings piloted by Woodley and we flew out to Mt. McKinley alongside one of the new Dougs, taking pictures through an open port in the Boeing. Each time the professional photographer moved away to reload his camera I would jump in with my 35 mm color job and take the same ones he was getting. If the exposures were good there should be some humdinger’s. The shots taken should be better than those of the Electra which I took several years ago and which you perhaps recall having seen.
No doubt you read of the wreck of the YUKON just south of Seward, en route to Seattle. https://www.flickr.com/photos/12567713@N00/318257778 I know many people who were aboard and it must have been a rather harrowing experience. One man, whom I knew quite well, F. J. Fitzsimmons, has not been heard of since. He was manager of the Alaskan branch of the Standard Oil Co., and was perhaps the best liked man in Anchorage. Everyone knew and loved “Fitz.” He was fat and jolly, had a wonderful sense of humor and a fine personality. His wife and four kids are among the cream of the Anchorage families and his loss will cause the Yukon disaster to be imprinted deeply on the minds of most everyone in town. It is odd that of the 485 people aboard the ship only 10 were missing and only two of these civilians, and one of them the most popular man on the ship. Odd too, is his disappearance, as many saw him after the ship had broken in half and after the high waves, which swept over the decks, had subsided somewhat. It is the “mystery of the Yukon” and time may yield the answer. So far there is not even a clue.
Tomorrow, more from Grandpa with local news and on Friday, an original One Act Play, written by AD Guion, Grandpa to you and me.