|PACKARD BELLANCA "PACEMAKER"
NR782W J-2 1101, 1931
|Walter showing the lodged fuel can|
The third attempt was made on May 25th at about 7:00 A.M. Everything went fine until at about 50 hours, and after we had been throwing empty cans out of the window for quite awhile.
We both looked out of the windows and back at the tail quite frequently to see if it was all right. Shortly after daylight, I looked back and saw a 5 gallon can stuck between the stabilizer strut and the underside of the stabilizer. It looked as if it was stuck pretty tight. The only thing to do was to crawl back inside the ship, cut a hole in the fabric, reach out and dislodge it. I asked Fred if he would like to do it. He had been trained in the Navy and with a grin gave me a typical Navy reply, "It's your pigeon." meaning I had thrown the can out and it was my job to get it off.
So, taking off my chute harness, putting my knife, a curvy-needle and thread (which a "hunch" had made me include in our equipment) in my shirt pocket, I opened up the canvas wall in back of the cabin proper - Fred meanwhile taking the controls and instructing him to motion me back if my weight in the tail of the plane made the ship too hard to handle. I pulled myself backwards on the bottom of the fuselage with only the fabric and a few cross wires between me and the ocean, 3,000 feet below. I kept my weight on the cross braces and wires until I was away back in the tail with my head toward the tail and my feet toward the engine. Then I cut a right angled slit in the fabric, just enough to get my arm out. By stretching, I could just get hold of the can. But I wanted a good hold, so I could really take it off and not knock it off for there was another brace wire further back and if I didn't pull the can off and make it go down, it might go back and lodge on the cable and I couldn't get it for the fuselage where I was was so narrow that I could hardly move. However, by being careful and taking my time, I finally got a good hold and pulled it off and down it went into the ocean, and strange to say, washed ashore. The crew found it and I have it as evidence to this day.