All those Wonderful Stories
Monkeying Around in a DC-4
By Captain Frank Kennedy
Most of Transocean's flying had been across the Pacific until 1956. With the end of the Korean conflict military flights were reduced and Transocean needed to find other contracts to keep the planes and crews busy. We were ready to listen to rumors, so when word got around about a contract involving, as one jokester put it, "thousands of passengers," that certainly got our attention until we found out that we weren't going to be carrying people, but monkeys! Not only that, but since so many of them could be loaded into each plane, the contract would involve only a few flights.
The Rhesus monkeys were to be used for medical research and the development of the Salk polio vaccine. We brought them from points in Asia to the Research Laboratory at Savannah, Georgia.
My first thoughts were that the flights might not be so bad - maybe even enjoyable. One might even be able to visit the cabin now and then to watch their antics. I was wrong, wrong, wrong! Nothing could have been as repulsive as a planeload of those "little stinkers."
Knute Goodrich was the animal attendant and was the best person for the job of caring for the monkeys. I met him as I approached the ramp to the main cabin door when the plane was being fueled and serviced at Honolulu. He had just advised me not to go through the cabin when I was enveloped in the stench of the monkeys. One choking whiff was enough warning to board by
the front ladder to the flight deck.
Not so. When I landed the plane at the military base near Savannah, the "follow-up" jeep led us to a parking spot near the small terminal. Just as we shut down the engines we saw people leaving the building by the side door, frowning in our direction and holding handkerchiefs to their noses. No one could stand to be near us so we moved the plane to an out-of-the-way spot until the monkeys were unloaded by the laboratory crew.
The cab driver taking us to the hotel was not shy in his comments. "Never have I had a more stinking load in this cab," he complained. He rushed to town with all the windows open and his nose out in the wind. When we arrived I hurried into
the hotel to register before we were thrown out. As we left the registration desk the clerk appeared to be examining his shoes to see if he had stepped in something.
If a Hall of Fame is ever established for flight attendants, a bust of Knute Goodrich should be displayed for having had to put up with the most disrespectful treatment ever from a planeload of passengers.