This story is from World War II. Early in the war to support the invasion of North Africa, the U.S. Army Air Corps had to fly planes to Africa. The route for medium bombers such as the Martin B-26 Marauder was to fly south from the United States to the eastern tip of Brazil. Then, after a day or two, they’d launch to a small, 35 square mile island called Ascension, 1,400 nautical miles away at the extreme end of their range with extra fuel tanks. My father, Sy Liebman, a brand new co-pilot, was on the first group of airplanes that made this trek. At the time, they didn’t have GPS, inertial navigation systems, accurate charts on winds and they were flying an unproven airplane.
Every time my dad told me this story, I’d get chills up and down my back. Later, after I was a designated Naval Aviator and had some experience, I still wondered about launching on a flight in which when one reached where you thought Ascension should be and didn’t see the island, you had 50 minutes of gas left.
This appeared in the ANA Grandpaw Pettibone’s website. If you’re a pilot, reading this story should make you think and admire the guys who did this. I certainly do and it has nothing to do with one of them being my dad. Here’s the link – http://gpsana.org/?p=2738