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Battling Monsoons

"When we reached the airport at dawn nocturnal rains had soaked it. The ground was wet, precarious for a take-off." More rain was predicted that day and it might be possible to dodge between the storms; however, if the fliers were to wait out the rain the runway may become too waterlogged for use. "The plane clung for what seemed like ages to the heavy sticky soil before the wheels finally lifted, and we cleared with nothing at all to spare the fringe of trees at the airdrome's edge."

For the first part of the 340 mile journey the Electra flew through gray cloudy skies as they passed over different parts of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. "Much of the way from Calcutta to Akyab we flew very low over endless paddies. Small figures trailing in the water looked up as we passed over their heads. Some waved hates, other turned back to their work, their every move reflected in a shining flood."

As Amelia and Fred neared Akyab two pagodas, covered with gold leaf, stood out. Nearby was a creek which wound its way through the town. The airport consisted of two runways and a large hangar. Imperial Airways and Air France made regular stops in Akyab and occasionally K.L.M., when the need to refuel arose. At 12:35 p.m. the Electra touched down on one of Akyab's two runways and taxied to the hangar where it shared space with two large Imperial Airways planes named Artemis and Arethusa.

"We did not intend to stay at Akyab overnight. Instead we hoped to reach Rangoon at least, and started off from Akyab after checking the weather and refueling." Shortly after take-off the weather turned against the fliers as the wind began to whip and rain began pelting the aircraft. "Everything was obliterated in the deluge, so savage that it beat off patches of paint along the leading edge of my plane's wings." After continuing for a few hours Amelia decided to give up and retreat back to Akyab. "Back-tracking, we headed out to sea, flying just off the surface of the water. We were afraid to come low over land on account of the hills. When it's impossible to see a few hundred yards ahead through the driving moisture the prospect of suddenly encountering hilltops is not a pleasant one."

Miraculously, Fred managed to navigate the fliers back to the airfield without being able to see anything but the waves below. "Two hours and six minutes of going nowhere," he said. After arriving back at the airfield, airport attendants shook their heads and told Amelia that conditions might not improve for another three months! "So Fred and I determined to look around for a nice boarding house - in case!"

The Boston Globe, Friday, June 18, 1937

The Times, Friday, June 18, 1937

The Central New Jersey Home News, Friday, June 18, 1937


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