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From the Archives, 1942: Air crew’s strange ordeal


First published in The Sydney Morning Herald on September 14, 1942

AIR CREW’S ORDEAL
Topsyturvy In Clouds

LONDON, Sept. 13 (A.A.P. and Official Wireless) .-One of the strangest stories of the war in the air has just been told by the crew of an Australian Sunderland flying-boat of the Coastal Command, after an operational flight over the Bay of Biscay. The strangest part of the story is that they are alive to tell it.

A Sunderland flying boat of the RAAF’s No. 10 Squadron, overflies Land’s End, England, during the early stages of World War II.

A Sunderland flying boat of the RAAF’s No. 10 Squadron, overflies Land’s End, England, during the early stages of World War II.

During an early morning patrol, the Sunderland flew into a funnel of cumulo-nimbus cloud at 4,500 feet. Veteran pilots describe the violent air currents in this type of cloud formation as fantastic. Sometimes they break an aircraft to pieces.

When the Sunderland flew into the cloud it began to plunge around alarmingly. The pilots fought with the dual control column to stabilise the flying-boat, but it gyrated like something demented.

Pilot-Officer P. Manger.-a Victorian, then took over and pushed the control column forward to increase the speed, and even stranger things began to happen.

SAT ON CEILING

The cook, who was preparing breakfast on his oil stove, was deposited on the ceiling in a perfectly natural sitting position. The navigating officer, J. Kennedy, also a Victorian, who, with his instruments, was hurled from the navigation table, came to rest in a glass astrodome in the roof, just in time to find his maps and rulers falling on his lap. On the bridge, one of the co-pilots, Flying Officer A. Shears, of Brisbane, who had been standing behind the captain’s seat, rose vertically until his head bumped against the roof.

“I then found,” he said, “that I was suspended there, yet I could raise one dangling foot to the throttles which were just in front of my toe, and push them wide open.”



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