Captain Beau Guinther
By Joseph Stachon, Captain
I was saddened to hear of the passing of one of our original TALOA captains, Beau Guinther. We spent many happy days together at bases all over the world. His smiling face and witty banter always lifted our spirits wherever he appeared. In Transocean's early days, before we had crew changes at almost every stop, we flew with an augmented crew which included two captains, an extra third pilot, and additional other crew members.
I remember one such flight, Beau and I were co-captains and we picked up a load Catholic priests, nuns, and brothers in Hong Kong in 1950. The route was to be; Hong Kong, Calcutta, Karachi, Cairo and finally, Rome. 1950 was a Holy year and they were going to Rome to celebrate that event. We left Hong Kong after sunset and since we were flying westward, It would be a night flight all the way to Calcutta. After about nine hours, we were over Burma and encountered a violent storm front. We were flying an unpressurized DC-4 without weather radar. In those days, all you could do was turn off the auto-pilot, slow down and auger your way through it. I'll mention here a few of the things that airline pilots had to contend with in that era which are not a problem for present day jet pilots at all. First, in a pressurized jet plane rain doesn't leak in at all and you can usually fly above the weather or be radar-directed around it. In the DC-4, NC90415 which we were flying, the rain leaked in around the windshield in such quantity that it overflowed the tiny rain gutters which someone had fashioned around the glare shield and cascaded into our laps and drenched our uniforms. But that was the least of our worries. The turbulence was so extreme, it took the maximum efforts of both Beau and I to keep the airplane under control. St. Elmo's Fire outlined the window frames, the wings and the prop tips in circles of brilliant blue flame. You know you are going to be struck by lightning at any moment so you quickly turn up the cockpit lights so that you won't be blinded by the flash. At such times we were always grateful that Donald Douglas put ample "muselage in the fuselage" of the DC-4.
After we passed through the weather front and were in somewhat smoother air, Beau suggested that I go back in the cabin and see how the passengers were faring. This I proceeded to do and as I passed through the galley area, I thought to myself, "Well, at least this is a load of passengers we won't have to worry about. They are probably back there singing Nearer My God To Thee. So with that thought and half a smile on my face, I opened the cabin door. The smile faded when what I saw was wall-to-wall eye balls and rosary beads.
To this day, I still chuckle when I see the notation in my log book, the "Eye balls and rosary beads" flight.
Thanks for the great memories, Beau.