All Those Wonderful Stories...
Transocean Air Lines 1946 - 1960
In January 1949 we were flying a
DC-4 from Wake to Honolulu by way of
Midway Island. Orvis Nelson was on
board along with a few other pilots
and flight engineers as dead-head
crew members. Orvis decided we
should stop at Midway and familiarize
ourselves with the airport in case we
should need to use it as an alternate
at some time in the future.
by Joseph Stachon
After landing and touring the island, we discovered, as we were about to depart, that one
of the engine starters had failed. There was no maintenance service available to us on
Midway so we were faced with a considerable problem. Fortunately one of our very
inventive flight engineers had brought along a device that took care of this situation very
neatly. The "emergency starter" consisted of a long rope with three canvas pockets spaced
along one end of the rope. The pockets were slipped on the prop tips of the ailing engine.
The pockets also had metal hooks sewn into them so that about three rounds of the rope
could be hooked in each pocket when the rope was wrapped around the prop from tip to
tip. Orvis was the first to volunteer as a rope puller and about five more of us lined up
behind him. We started to run with the rope, Orvis leading the way. With a roar the engine
started and the prop slung off the pockets and the rope suddenly went slack. At that point
Orvis stumbled and fell flat on the pavement. Well, that wasn't a rough spot in the
pavement that the rest of us ran over long-ways, it was the president of our airline. Our
apologies proved unnecessary, however, as Orvis got up, dusted himself off and laughed
heartily through the whole event.