Atlantic Ocean – June 6, 1939

Atlantic Ocean – June 6, 1939

     On June 6, 1939, a 22-year-old student flier from Carlisle, Penn., rented an aircraft (NC220-70)  and took off for what he later claimed to be a flight to “the planet Mars”.  At one point he stopped n Hallowell, Penn., to refuel, before heading out over the Atlantic Ocean. 

     When he was about 175 miles east-southeast off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, he encountered the fishing trawler Villanova, and circled the ship a few times before dropping a note attached to an empty five-gallon fuel can.  The note asked the ship’s captain to indicate the way towards land.  Captain Astman Bjartmarz ordered the letters “W N W” painted on the roof of the pilot house, but before a crewman could complete the job the plane disappeared into the high clouds.

     Less than an hour later the plane returned and came down in the water at Lat. 42.08, Long. 66.42.   The pilot managed to escape the plane before it sank, and he was rescued by the Villanova.  Once aboard he was treated for shock and hypothermia, but was otherwise uninjured.

     The pilot told the crew he’d been flying blind all night, and that a fuel line rupture between the reserve and main tank had made it necessary to land in the water.  When asked where he’d been heading, he replied that he was trying to get to the planet Mars. 

     The Villanova began dragging its nets and managed to snag and recover the aircraft, which it took in tow to Boston.  When the ship arrived the Boston police were waiting. 

     Source: New York Times, “Flier Saved From Sea Gives Mars As Aim”, June 7, 1939 

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