The Trans-Pacific Flight of 1934


DAY/DATE
DEPART
TIME LOCAL
TIME
GMT
ARRIVE
TIME
LOCAL
TIME
GMT
SOURCE
REMARKS
SUN 21OCT34
Archerfield
0403
1803
1 (p.77)
SUN 21OCT34
Suva
1805
(0605)
2
Note: 2
MON 29OCT34
Naselai Beach
0608
1808
1 (p.153)
Crossed Date Line. Note: 3
MON 29OCT34
Wheeler Field
0840
(1910)
2
Crossed Date Line. Note: 3
SAT 03NOV34
Wheeler Field
1415
(0015)
2
SUN 04NOV34
Oakland
0740
1540
1 (p.246)
SUN 04NOV34
Oakland
1325
(2125)
2
Note: 4
SUN 04NOV34
Burbank
1525
(2325)
2

 

TIME ZONES

Archerfield, Brisbane, Australia
+10:00
Suva, Fiji
+12:00
Wheeler Field, Hawaii
-10:30
Oakland, California
-8:00
Burbank, California
-8:00

 

 

NOTES

1
Times in bold print are quoted by P.G. Taylor. GMT times in brackets are calculated.
2
P.G. Taylor records that they began their descent to Suva at 1800 local.
3
On page 180 P.G. Taylor states that 0500 GMT is 1830 Honolulu time. He also states that there is a time difference between Honolulu and Fiji of one and a half hours. In 1934, Honolulu was GMT -10:30. In 1947, the time zone was changed to GMT -10:00.
4
Press reports state that they landed at Los Angeles at 1525 local "after a two hour flight from Oakland".

 

 

THE ALTAIR'S NAVIGATION SUITE

as described by P.G. Taylor in his book Pacific Flight

"The navigation equipment of the Lady Southern Cross, besides the usual flying instruments, included a Hughes P.4 compass, manufactured by Henry Hughes and Son Ltd., London, and probably the best magnetic aircraft compass obtainable. The P.4, loaned to us by Charles UIm, was the one we had used as a course-setting compass on a flight to England and back in Faith in Australia. This compass was installed in the rear cockpit in a carefully selected position where it was found to be little affected by the magnetism in the aircraft. There was also a compass in each instrument board, but these were subject to big deviations and actually were not used on the flight. All courses were set on the P.4 and Kingsford Smith steered on the Sperry Directional Gyro which he had in the front cockpit and which was frequently checked by reference to the Hughes compass, on which I steered at any time that I happened to be flying the machine.

"The other instruments were: an R.A.E. Mark viii bubble sextant, designed by the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, England, and manufactured by Henry Hughes and Son Ltd.; a small Waltham chronometer which was mounted in sponge rubber to absorb vibration; a drift sight in the floor; and the ordinary equipment for navigation such as parallel rules, protractor, dividers, and slide rule. British Admiralty charts were used for the ocean tracks, and similar large-scale charts for pilotage when in touch with the various islands; which all seems to take up a lot of space about navigation, but it is easier to describe its ways and means than what made the Wasp motor do 5,000,000 revolutions without failing us, or how the Lockheed wing lifted 29 lb. for every square foot of its area when we took off from Naselai Beach, and how Smithy got her off at all, cross wind, on a wet curving beach, sitting on a petrol-tank. But that is to come later."

 

THE ALTAIR'S WIRELESS STATION

as described by P.G. Taylor in his book Pacific Flight

"It only remained now for the wireless equipment to be installed.

"It had been decided that in spite of the slight extra weight of the wireless installation it would be a valuable safety precaution to fit a small set for transmission so that we could send out our position regularly during flight, and generally let people know how we were faring. Although the absence of reception in the aircraft deprived us of any possible navigational assistance we might receive from the wireless, through the medium of direction finding, or the Honolulu and San Francisco beams, it was in a measure a relief to me that we did not have this equipment.

"Having no method of wireless direction, there could be no uncertainty as to what method of navigation we should rely upon.

"Being completely ignorant of all matters to do with wireless I looked upon even the transmission equipment with considerable suspicion and had Iittle faith in it. Its installation caused me much irritation by the sudden introduction of iron wires and fittings in the region of my highly prized compass, and at the time I would gladly have cast the whole thing overboard.

"I now take all that back. That little set has saved me from becoming one of those horrible bores who declare that they have no time for this and that, mainly because they don't understand it. It worked faultlessly throughout the whole flight and Kingsford Smith's signals were received with great clarity over really tremendous distances for an equipment of this kind. It was when we were nearing a port that they could hear us least distinctly. When approaching Suva we were cut out from there for two hours, but the Monterey, down on the run between Auckland and Suva, could hear us distinctly. Similarly, on approaching Honolulu, our signals were not clearly received there, but at the same time they were heard perfectly on the Pacific coast. Apparently with short wave this is a usual occurrence owing to the rather distant reflections of the waves from the Heaviside layer.

"There were several times during our flight that I felt glad of that little wireless set, and it was quite comforting to feel that we could tell the world where we were from hour to hour.

"When the service is established down the Pacific some form of wireless direction will be essential, particularly to assist in making very small and low islands in overcast conditions, when without sun or star sights it would be sheer luck to hit the mark by dead reckoning. At the same time the aircraft operating the service should be in a position to find their way by ordinary navigation methods and should be self-contained units in this respect in the remote event of failure of the system."

 

THE ALTAIR'S WIRELESS STATION

as described in The Sun, Sydney of 18 August 1934

"If it is decided to carry a radio in the Lady Southern Cross, Sir Charles, who is an excellent radio operator, will work the set.

"Sir Charles first studied wireless at the School of Military Aeronautics, Oxford, when a cadet in the Royal Flying Corps, in 1917. Then a minimum receipt of six words a minute sufficed for a pass in the examinations, but to-day Sir Charles receives comfortably 20 words a minute, and according to his radio expert (Mr. John Stannage) has completely mastered this branch of aviation.

"Mr. Stannage is designing a special set weighing 25lb., which could be installed in the rear of the machine, and operated by remote controls, placed in Sir Charles' cockpit."

 

SOURCES

1
P.G. Taylor, Pacific Flight, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1935.
2
Contemporary press reports.

 

Issue
Date
Remarks
2
23DEC21
Added information on the Altair's navigation suite and wireless station.
1
06MAR19
Original

 

 

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