National Geographic : 1936 Jul
MY FLIGHT ACROSS ANTARCTICA © Ellsworth Antarctic Expedition BELIEVING HER OWNER "LOST," THE "WYATT EARP" FLIES SYMBOLS OF GRIEF Because no word had come from Ellsworth and Kenyon, owing to failure of their radio, the party on the ship feared they had perished and flew flags at half-mast. Here the ship forces its way through the rough ice off King Edward VII Land, northeast of the Bay of Whales. Several days later it reached the bay and found the explorers safe. In addition to the plane set powered by the motor during flight, we carried for auxiliary power, when not flying, a portable generator of 300 watts; we had also a hand operated trail set complete in itself. It seemed unreasonable to suppose that all three means could fail. Nevertheless, owing to conditions still unexplained, they did fail in their primary purpose, which was to keep in touch with my ship. Until the time we were forced to aban don the plane, 16 miles from the Bay of Whales, we were faithful to predeter mined schedules for broadcasting. Twice each "night" and once every "morning" we tried to reach the Wyatt Earp. After the exhausting task of turning a frozen hand crank for 10-minute intervals, while stand ing in a biting wind with the temperature minus five, all we ever heard from the ship was the sentence, "We can't hear you." AFTER 8 DAYS IN "BLIZZARD CAMP" The defect was not in our receiver, for three times we got time signals from the powerful Buenos Aires station-a fortu- nate reception which enabled me to keep track of my chronometer error. We decided that we must get out of that hole, irrespective of the weather ahead, so after eight days in the "blizzard camp" we put the canvas hood over the motor, and placed the fire pot inside for 45 minutes, as we always did before starting. Then we cranked the engine. After a couple of weak turns the propeller would stop with a choke. Kenyon knew better than I what was wrong, and after connecting the antenna wire from the stronger radio battery to the starter he had the propeller going in no time. With the plane unpacked of every thing we pulled out of the drift. Then we loaded up again and took off immediately into a sky which was anything but promising. This was the most trying moment of the entire flight. We had not been flying long before the horizon became clear and the sky took on a beautiful golden glow. After three hours and 55 minutes we came down to make another observation and to check our fuel.