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Panagra – Part Seven of Seven – April 14, 2017

Robert Novells’ Third Dimension Blog

April 14, 2017

Good Morning,

Today is Part Seven of seven in the series on Panagra.If you missed Part Six Click HERE.

Enjoy…..

Chapter Twelve – William D. Kent

In 1945 as World War II was ending in the Pacific, the airlines of the world were looking toward the post-war era. Panagra, with operating headquarters at Lima, Peru was no exception. Like the other airlines, it eyed the new aircraft which had been developed since 1941 and made a purchase of four Gold Plate Constellation aircraft from Lockheed Aircraft, Burbank, California.

The Gold Plate Series Constellations were Model 749’s fitted with C18-BD1 Wright Cyclones of 2,500 horsepower for take-off.  These aircraft used direct fuel injection, reverse pitch props and several other modifications. The improvements also increased trans-continental range to about 1,000 miles.

Panagra’s experience had been limited to twin-engine aircraft. The 4-engine Constellations required a Flight Engineer in the cockpit, in addition to two pilots. Lacking such trained flight engineers, Panagra turned to Pan American Airways which had a corps of experienced flight engineers, many of whom would be surplus when Pan Am’s wartime contract ended.

At the end of World War II, I was Flight Engineer at the Pan Am base at Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. I was offered the position as Chief Flight Engineer for Panagra, on loan from Pan Am.  I was to select 12 flight engineers from Pan Am’s base at Treasure Island, have them trained at Lockheed in Burbank on the Constellation and get them moved to Lima.

In preparation for my position with PAG, I made a trip to look into housing and schooling for my five children. I found the schooling inadequate, particularly for those who expected to gain admission into colleges and universities in the United States.  I was living in Burlingame, California at the time and my children attended Burlingame schools. The woman who lived across the street from me was the principal of a Burlingame grammar school. Her name was Elsiann Irvan. When I presented my problem to her she suggested that she come to Lima. She would bring desks, books, etc., live in our home and teach our children in the large enclosed back porch of our home. She would teach per the Burlingame curriculum so that our school would be accredited to any college in the U.S.

When I returned to Lima and told other Panagra personnel that a U. S. school principal was coming to Lima to teach our children I was deluged with requests to let other children join the classes. At the time, I was living at 620 Avendia Dos de Mayo and the house was not nearly large enough to accommodate all who wanted to attend.  Panagra families who wanted to join in the American school project were the Domnings, Havilecks, Achilles, McCleskys, et. al.

A Mr. Rosenshine of the American Chamber of Commerce at Lima helped us with the red tape at the Ministerio de Educacion. The Ministerio suggested the name “Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt”. They required us to teach Spanish and religion which requirement we met by teaching Bible stories.  A house with four rooms suitable for classrooms was found a few blocks away on Avenue Dos de Mayo. We were fortunate to find Mrs. Gretler who had a U. S. teacher’s certificate and a Peruvian, Miss Ines Acosta, who had attended the University of Wyoming in Laredo and Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. So, we started with Elsianna Irvin teaching 2nd and 3rd grade, Miss Gretler teaching the first grade and Miss Acosta teaching the kindergarten. Each year, as the children advanced in age, one more grade was added to the school.

One of the flight engineers from Pan Am’s Treasure Island base, who went to Panagra, was Dale Ferguson. He was a bachelor and lived in our home in Lima. In the beginning, Mrs. Irvin also lived in our home.

Our children’s names were Raquel, Margo, Sherryl, Bill, Jr. and Bonnie. At a birthday party for our daughter, Raquel, Mrs. Irvin introduced Ines Acosta and Dale Ferguson. Not long afterward they were married. They live in Lima today, almost 50 years after the beginning of the Colegio Roosevelt.

William D. Kent

May 15, 1995

Chapter Thirteen – Mike Wiley

Part of my contribution to “Memories” is from a story that my mother told me after the death of my father in 2005.

In 1944, shortly after the birth of my sister Paula, my father was scheduled to fly a short maintenance test flight in a DC-3 that had just come out of the shop.  Panagra was meticulous in their operations and one of the rules was that an airplane coming off of maintenance would be flown on a test flight, generally up to 18,000 ft prior to it being put back on the line to assure that its performance would be sufficient for the tough mountain flying routes.

On this particular day, my father asked my mother if she would like to go along.  There were only going to be two people on the flight, my father, and the maintenance engineer.  My mother, not an aviation aficionado, first declined but after thinking it over said “Heck, OK I will go”.  She left my newborn sister with the maid that helped us out in the house and took off for the airport.

Sitting in the Co-Pilot seat next to my father, she describes the takeoff and climb out of Lima as beautiful and told how they climbed north toward the mountains and the border of Ecuador.   They were high over the mountains when she looked out the window and starkly realized there was nothing but rugged terrain below them.   Thinking of her new motherly responsibilities and her current position she turned to my father and asked “Hey, what happens if we have a problem with the airplane up here, where are we going to land”?

She said that the cockpit erupted in laughter as she realized that, although this was a situation the pilots of Panagra were in every day, this little trip brought it home to her in a very visceral way.

Suffice it to say she did not make many other flights like this.

Panagra never seems to go away.  In 1982 I was flying gliders in Chardon, Ohio with the Cleveland Soaring Society.  I had my own high performance glider (a Schleicher ASW-15B) and also spent time towing gliders in a Bellanca Scout.  One of our members was Phil Contrereas.  Phil worked for an international company in the Cleveland area and had done much traveling in South America.

Since he was familiar with the tough mountainous terrain in the area, I was telling him the story of how, when Braniff acquired Panagra, the Panagra crews were tasked with training the Braniff crews about flying out of the unique airports in South America.

On an early Braniff flight, A DC-8 coming out of La Paz, Bolivia had scraped its tail on departure and done substantial damage due to the fact that the airline had supplied the wrong VR (rotate speed) Somehow, as the story goes, they received a rotate speed for sea level instead of the high altitude LPB departure.  The result was that the aircraft rotated at what would have been minimum controllable airspeed, scraped its tail and then launched off the end of the runway.  Fortunately, at LPB, the runway is located at the top of a hill and the departure slopes off the hill to the valley below.  This saved the flight and it was able to continue on to Miami.

After I finished the story, Phil said:

“Oh, I remember that trip, I was on that airplane!”

Every once in a while, I still find people who know of the airline and its operations in South America.  It still has a wonderful reputation and I am proud to have been involved, even as only a “Second Generation Panagra”

I hope you have enjoyed this special series on Panagra. The personal stories that are presented in each chapter are unique and represent history telling as it should be – first person. Take care, enjoy the day, and join me next week when we will be talking about ?????.

Robert Novell

April 14, 2017

Seniority List For Panagra

Name

Grade

Seniority Date

Jardine. T. F.

Captain Feb. 28, 1930
Smith, W.B. Captain Feb. 15, 1931
Miller, J.H. Captain Aug. 13, 1931
Disher, C.R. Captain Nov.28, 1932
Sterling, F.T. Captain April 10, 1934
Nelson, F.E. Captain April 21, 1936
Havelick, F.J. Captain May 3, 1936
McCleskey, J.R. Captain May 21, 1936
Sindo, W.J. Captain Sept. 20, 1936
Achilles, F.L. Captain July 21, 1937
Denham, W.M. Captain Sept. 3, 1937
Long, F. C. Captain June 23, 1939
Domning, L.G. Captain Nov. 19, 1939
McGann, F.W. Captain Nov. 20, 1939
Shepard, J.S. Captain Jan. 12, 1940
Fussell, R.G. Captain May 6, 1940
Schultz, H.D. Captain Oct. 18, 1940
Caldwell, H.D. Captain Oct. 20, 1940
Mehrmann, J.F. Captain Dec. 7, 1940
Hummel, E.B. Captain Dec. 16, 1940
Biller, J.H. Captain June 1, 1941
MacArthur, D. Captain June 5, 1941
Lowe, E.A.. Captain June 9, 194 1
Curl, C.C. Captain July 3, 1941
Hicks, H.D. Captain July 10, 1941
Hutchinson, T.N. Captain Feb. 7, 1942
Healy, J.F. Captain Feb. 12, 1942
Young, T.L.H. Captain April 4, 1942
Kopp, A.H. Captain June 8, 1942
Mitchell, J.R. Captain June 11, 1942
Herold, C.C. Captain June 18, 1942
Traverse, B.T. Captain June 29, 1942
Richardson, C.S. Captain July 21, 1942
Willey, P.A. Captain July 24, 1942
Brumbaugh, J.G Captain Sept. 15, 1942
Witt, R.F. Captain Sept. 16, 1942
Betty, J.P. Captain Sept. 23, 1942
Chamberlin, W.B. Captain Oct. 26, 1942
Dripps, W.R. Captain Nov. 13, 1942
Hall, W.C. Captain Mar. 16, 1943
Torrence, R.V. Captain May 9, 1943
Martin, W.L. Captain May 22, 1943
Hayward, C.L. Captain May 28, 1943
Zimmer, G.M. Captain June 1, 1943
Berger, H.C. Captain June 9, 1943
Clapp, W.K. Captain June 15, 1943
Compton, S.H. Captain Aug. 11, 1943
Schultz, C.A. Captain Sept. 11, 1943
Willey, J.K. Captain Oct. 7, 1943
Vandenberg, R.J. Captain Oct. 19, 1943
Dart, J.E. Copilot Dec. 4, 1943
Youngquist, R.V. Captain Dec. 25, 1943
Close. C.W. R. Capt Jan. 25, 1944
Hackman, M.R. Copilot Jan. 31, 1944
Hefley, K. R. Capt Feb. 25, 1944
Diedrich, B.J. R. Capt Feb. 27, 1944
Rinne, C.F. Copilot Feb. 28, 1944
Smith, N.E. R. Capt Feb. 29, 1944
Haines, J.L. R. Capt Feb. 29, 1944
Schaff, A., Jr. R. Capt Apr. 12, 1944
Norman, Joseph Copilot Nov. 23, 1945
Heflin, T. Copilot Dec. 8, 1944
Lightholder, S. M. Captain Jan. 17, 1945
Denham, H.D. R. Capt Mar. 26, 1945
Reahard, J.F. R. Capt July 22, 1945
Peffer, D.M. R. Capt Sept. 25, 1945
Sullivan, R.G. R. Capt Oct. 10, 1945
McGarr, R.C. Copilot Nov 1, 1945
Sweeney, R.P. R. Capt Nov. 11, 1945
Russ, J.A. Copilot Nov. 12, 1945
Ottaway, W.M. R. Capt Nov. 27, 1945
Lanigan, H.A. Copilot Nov. 28, 1945
Smith,  Robert Copilot Dec. 2, 1945
Foster, M.H. Copilot Dec. 3, 1945
Carey, D.H. Copilot Dec. 13, 1945
Gentes, J.H. R. Capt Dec. 27, 1945
Meyer, F. Copilot Jan. 1, 1946
Pickering, J.R. R. Capt Jan. 4, 1946
DuBois, A.W. R. Capt Feb. 3, 1946
Winterbottom, C.W. Captain Feb. 6, 1946
Lange, D.L. R. Capt Feb. 9, 1946
Hamilton, J.T. Copilot Feb. 12, 1946
Raymond, W.B. Captain Mar. 24, 1946
Kozik, H.G. Copilot Mar. 28, 1946
Ward, J.F. Copilot May 4, 1946
Harp, D. W. Copilot May 8, 1946
Barnes, C.C. Copilot May 19, 1946
Pierce, R.T. Copilot May 23, 1946
Fowler, D.L. Copilot May 31, 1946
Cardozo, M.G. Copilot June 2, 1946
Kuehn, F. Copilot June 10, 1946
Morse, K. C. Copilot June 12, 1946
Grother, L.J. Copilot June 13, 1946
Adamson, Robert Copilot June 18, 1946
Samuelson, Robert Copilot July 11, 1946
David, J.J. Copilot July 11, 1946
Butler, Donald Copilot July 12, 1946
Kerns, John Copilot July 16, 1946
Farnsworth, Dexter Copilot July 16, 1946
Burton, Francis Copilot July 17, 1946
Crowell, H.P. Copilot July 18, 1946
Turk, J.M. Copilot July 20, 1946
Leeper, J.M. Copilot July 20, 1946
Kesting, W.F. Copilot July 22, 1946
Biossat, D.L. Copilot July 29, 1946
Fraleigh, D.P. Copilot July 30, 1946
Isackson, J. R. Copilot Aug. 3, 1946
Curtis, Gordon Copilot Aug. 4, 1946
Walker, R.J. Copilot Aug. 4, 1946
Williams, Ernest Copilot Aug. 12, 1946
Powell, R.A. Copilot Aug. 13, 1946
Miligi, Raymond Copilot Aug. 14, 1946
Rathbun, W.H. Copilot Aug. 14, 1946
Vaughon, J.T. Copilot Aug. 14, 1946
Grasty, R.B. Copilot Aug. 16, 1946
Hawkins, J.B. Copilot Aug. 17, 1946
Junk, V.S. Copilot Aug. 21, 1946
Mercer, A.J. Copilot Aug. 29, 1946
Koosman, E.F. Copilot Sept. 2, 1946
Zagrodny, F.B. Copilot Sept. 3, 1946
Pedersen, I.B. Copilot Sept. 6, 1946
Perkinson, M.L. Copilot Sept. 7, 1946
Timko, J.L. Copilot Sept. 7, 1946
Buchanan, F.A. Jr. Copilot Sept. 17, 1946
Jones, R.L. Copilot Sept. 18, 1946
Pittman, J.B. Copilot Nov. 3, 1946
Newman, J. Kevin Copilot Nov. 7, 1946
Craig, J.E. Copilot Nov. 13, 1946
Skipper, C.B. Copilot Dec. 3, 1946
Vieth, W.H. Copilot Dec. 4, 1946
Hofer, C.F. Copilot Dec. 5, 1946
Carroll, R.V. Copilot Dec. 13, 1946
Assip, E.F. Copilot Dec. 14, 1946
Harragin, H.C. Copilot Dec. 15, 1946
Chenoweth, R.J. Copilot Dec. 16, 1946
Ladd, H.W. Copilot Dec. 17, 1946
Devine, J.I. Copilot Dec. 18, 1946
Bond, B.O. Copilot Dec. 19, 1946
Wyman, C.G. Copilot Dec. 20, 1946
Misner, R.F. Copilot Dec. 21, 1946
Gray, T.F. Copilot Dec. 27, 1946
Walcutt, T.F. Copilot Dec. 28, 1946
Behrhorst, D.C. Copilot Dec. 29, 1946
Kemmerling, J.R. Copilot Jan. 12, 1947
Lightbody, L.H. Copilot Jan. 13, 1947
Hale, S.C. Copilot Jan. 20, 1947
Krusen, W.A. Captain Not available
Herblin, W.L. R. Capt Not available
Scott, G.B. R. Capt Not available
Weldon, W. J. R. Capt Not available
Karja, C.W. Copilot Not available
Smith, R.I. Copilot Not available