Dec 1937: Clipper’s departure delayed by weather

New Zealand Herald, 30 December 1937, p 10

checking weather map
Dr WA Macky (left), Government meteorologist at Auckland, Mr AL Lewis, Pan American Airways local airport manager, and Mr EB Buxton, Pan American meteorologist, examining weather maps prepared from reports received shortly before midnight, and checking final calculations, before the postponement of the Samoan Clipper’s departure was decided upon last night.


Ominous warnings of an approaching storm-centre, with strong winds from the north-east and choppy to high seas on the Auckland Harbour, led to a second postponement of the northward flight of the Pan American Airways Samoan Clipper at midnight last night.

Prompt measures were taken to assure tho safety of both the Samoan Clipper and the Empire flying-boat Centaurus. Immediately they learned the meteorologists’ forecast, based on reports received from various points, those responsible for the two machines made prompt decisions. The postponement of the flight of the Pan American Clipper, recommended by Mr AL Lewis, airport manager, was confirmed by Captain Edwin C Musick, master of the flying-boat.

Men Standing By

A hastily-assembled crew, comprising aircraftsmen from Hobsonville and including Captain JW Burgess, of the Centaurus, and technical experts of Pan American Airways, hauled on the lines to pull the Clipper back to her moorings, away from the barge. She was riding easily, with two men aboard as a precaution, at midnight.

Acting on instructions received earlier from Captain Burgess, Mr H Dangerfield, one of the two radio operators in the crew of the Centaurus, had gone out to the Empire craft in a launch. Later he was joined by Captain Burgess, and, with the assistance of the harbourmaster, Captain HH Sergeant, an extra anchor was put down. Mr Dangerfield and some aircraftsmen were to remain on board for the night.

The decisions made were purely in the nature of precautions. It was not anticipated that either of the ships would be in any danger, thanks largely to tho eastern breakwater.

Emergency Moorings

Instructions to prepare emergency moorings to be laid in Islington Bay, Rangitoto, which is sheltered from a north-easterly blow, were received by the Pan American ground staff last night. This work will be done to-day, and if the threatened storm develops, the Clipper may be transferred to the new moorings today.

Head-winds on the course to be followed by the Clipper on her flight to Pago Pago, of such a strength as to make it impossible for the ship to reach her destination before dark, were forecast by the meteorologists. Conditions on the harbour in Auckland were not favourable for a take-off, although it is likely that the machine could have been started on her journey without undue difficulty, had the forecast for the route been fair.

The unfavourable weather in Auckland is not expected by the meteorologists to be of long duration. They consider it likely that the disturbance will have passed by the week-end, at the latest.

Read a first-hand account of Samoan Clipper’s visit to Islington Bay.

Evening Star (Dunedin), 31 December 1937, p 1


[Per United Press Association.]
AUCKLAND, December 30.

A definite decision not to commence the northward flight of the Pan-American Airways-Samoan Clipper until Saturday morning at the earliest, and then only provided the weather is suitable, was made today by the officers of the company in Auckland. The latest weather reports, although more favourable, were not sufficiently encouraging for any plans to be made for a start early tomorrow morning.

The instructions given on Wednesday night to prepare moorings at Islington Bay, Rangitoto, for the Clipper were followed by a decision early this morning to move the craft from Mechanics’ Bay to a more sheltered locality.

As soon as it was light enough Captain Musick and two or his officers went on board the Clipper and started the motors. The ship was taxied slowly out past the breakwater and down the harbour. In spite of a gusty wind and a choppy sea, the heavily-laden craft handled well, and no difficulties were experienced as she moved to her new moorings with a launch in close company. The mooring equipment was taken to Islington Bay by launch, and the Clipper was secured in a sheltered position. Arrangements were made for those on board to keep in touch with the company’s shore stations by means of radio, regular watches being taken by the respective operators.


[Per United Press Association.]
AUCKLAND, December 30.

Because of the further postponement of the return flight of the Pan-American Airways Samoan Clipper, another extension of the air mail posting period has, been made. The mail will now he closed at 6 p.m. tomorrow for registered letters, and 8 p.m. for ordinary letters. All letters received for the mail were not stamped and counted today, but, up to about 5 p.m., when the last round was made, the total had reached approximately 23,500 [obscured].

At 8 p.m. on Wednesdav the total was 20,272, the mail then weighing 295 lb, so that postings today were comparatively light. They were added to by a fair consignment brought from the South Island by the Union Airways plane, such letters having been posted in anticipation of a possible postponement of the departure of the Clipper and the consequent extension of the closing time of the mail.

The postponements, which have caused a considerable addition to the total postings, have naturally disappointed many of those who lodged their letters early, for the value of the covers later will have a relationship to the size of the mail. Air mail will not be carried beyond Honolulu by the Samoan Clipper, and the portion for San Francisco and beyond will be tran-shipped to one of the Pan-American Airways Martin Clippers which participate in a regular air service between Honolulu and San Francisco, leaving on Tuesday (Monday by New Zealand time) of each week.

Thames Star, 31 December 1937, p 3


[By Telegraph — Press Association]
AUCKLAND, Dec. 31.

The Samoan Clipper was taxied back to the city at 1.30 p.m. from Islington Bay, Rangitoto, where she has been sheltering from the north-easterly blow, Captain Musick having gone down by launch to bring the Clipper back. She will refuel this afternoon at the Pan American mooring jetty at Mechanics Bay in readiness for the first hop on the return journey across the Pacific, but it will not be decided until tonight whether she will take off tomorrow morning. The outlook is still stormy, although the actual storm has not yet broken.