National Geographic : 1943 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine U. ,. Army Air forces. omcal Army Nurse and Medical Officer Aid the Wounded in a Flying Ambulance Three tiers of bunks can be removed quickly for medical cargo destined for field hospitals. Members of ATC's Air Evacuation Group pilot this C-47. were under a severe handicap because of the lack of proper tools. They had to improvise makeshift substitutes and even make such essential articles as screw drivers because there were not enough to go around. When Italian prisoners of war, doing non military work near the base, learned of the trouble, it vanished almost overnight. There had been an Italian airport a few miles away, and when its capture was immi nent, earlier in the war, the airport personnel buried all tools and service equipment to keep them from falling into the hands of the British victors, toward whom they felt very bitter. With the Americans, it was a different story. If they needed the tools, they could have them. A digging party regained the buried treasure, and the tool problem was solved. Each Wing has its own particular brand of bad weather. The Arctic has its fierce gales and treacher ous mists which merge expanses of ice and sky in a hazardous haze. Tricky, tropical thunderstorms are the menace in the South Atlantic Wing, and over the South Atlantic itself lightning has been known to burn holes in wings and fuselages. Then there are the sandstorms of the Sahara, which can fill the air with a heavy yellow fog and obscure the sun. But bad weather, so frequently the enemy of ATC, has sometimes proved a friend in disguise. Last summer a big plane was re turning to the United States over an Arctic route. Head winds had cut the fuel supply, and when the plane neared the regular base the pilot received radio word that the weather there had closed in. Following orders, he proceeded to another regular base several hundred miles to the north. By the time he reached that area, however, the weather had closed in there, too, making a landing impossible. He contacted the first base to report his predicament, and was told to return, for the weather had lifted and he could bring the ship in.