This is a three part story by John Bull (seriously) at Medum that is defnitely worth half an hour's quiet time and maybe a glass or two in memory of some ordinary guys who pulled off an extra-ordinary feat. An accidental circumnavigation of the globe in a flying boat during the first days of the Second World War. I couldn't help but wonder why Stephen Spielberg hadn't bought the rights yet.
By morning they had been airborne for almost 19 hours, flying on Swede’s careful balance of 90 octane and on Brown’s ‘guestimated’ route. They knew they should be nearing land, but the layer of low-lying cloud beneath them was a problem.
“We’d better start heading down.” Said Ford. “I don’t much relish the idea of missing the island and having to backtrack while our fuel reserve gets used up.”
Swede eased back on the mixture and they slowly felt their way down. Soon they were flying a mere 300 feet above the waves. They began to look for land.
A little later, as they neared the coast, Johnny Mack yawned. It had been a long flight and he was looking forward to both sleep and a breakfast. Ahead, out of the cockpit, the sea was calm and unbroken. Unbroken, he noticed, apart from…
“Hey Skipper.” He remarked with a frown. “What do you suppose that is, there, dead ahead? A whale maybe?”
Ford squinted, following his First Officer’s gaze to the object on which they were closing fast. Suddenly his eyes flew wide.
“Submarine!” He shouted.
By now the conning tower was visible, a Rising Sun painted on its side, men running towards the large gun on its foredeck.
“Swede!” Ford bellowed, “Full rich! Full power!”
“They’re aiming that thing at us!” Mack warned.
“Max climb! Let’s get the hell out of here!” Ford cried.
With the sluggish Boeing 314 resisting the change, Ford and Mack hauled back on the yoke desperately seeking the cloud cover above. They blazed directly over the submarine mid-climb, the deck gun below swinging round as it began to track them through the sky. After what seemed to the crew like an eternity, they finally broke through into the clouds. It was just in time. A bright flash from below illuminating the clouds around them. The men braced for impact.