1629 hours. We
have now been flying a little over two hours. We try Sable Island on the ADF
and raise them at 330�. They transmit one minute after the hour and half hour
in clear weather, so at first we wonder if our clock is wrong; but no, at 1631
we get them again. "Must be foggy up there," says Max. "Seems very
likely that it should be." We down here are CAVU—ceiling and visibility
unlimited—with blue sky above, blue sea beneath, and a pale daytime moon
hanging transparently in the sky ahead. Our air speed is 130 mph, our altitude
6,800 feet, and everything is just fine.
1650 hours and we
are coming up on two thin bands of clouds far below. We have just reset the
gyrocompass again; it needs to be reset about every half hour.
1655 hours. We
see a ship off the port bow, playing hide-and-seek with the little fluffy
clouds that are now beginning to appear. At first I think it is two ships
sailing together, a little one and a big one. Then it looks like two planes,
flying low; but what would two planes be doing way out here at wave-top height?
They duck in and out of the clouds, seeming to change their shape, but now the
shape comes clear—it's a liner, and quite a big one, trailing a white wake.
I ask Max whether
we could raise the ship on the radio. "No," he says. "For some
reason the sea and the air don't mix as far as communications are
1701 and here is
Sable Island, right on time. We tune back to Dartmouth, and find we are passing
through the beam. Projecting the beam down to our course, it looks as though we
were a little ahead of our estimated position. Max calls New York to give our
new position, checks back to Sable Island on the ADF, and a rough fix places us
indeed quite a bit ahead.
I am flying
again, and I find I now have to hold the wheel slightly back to keep straight
and level, so I trim the nose up a bit. It strikes me that we will be doing
this from now on until the cabin tanks are empty; bit by bit that red dot on
the trim setting will slide back like an unofficial gas gauge registering our
fuel consumption, until at last it will be in normal trim position, in the
1816 hours. We
call New York—three times—no reply. On the third try Max gets an answering call
from "McKinley." We have no idea who McKinley is, but he relays our new
position to New York for us. Max has again revised it forward from earlier
estimates; we are doing well.
For the last half
hour or so I have been slowly milking D-GARY up to her cruising altitude from
about 6,600 feet. This is a wonderfully delicate job, as I have been trying to
do it without either Max or the engines noticing the climb. I watch the
airspeed dial, the altimeter dial, the rate-of-climb dial alternately, watch
the horizon and very, very gently ease back the wheel with my fingers. Inch by
inch we go up; then I relax too much and we slide down again. It is like
climbing a slippery hill. I trim the nose up just a touch, less than a quarter
turn, and finally we make it, with a real sense of triumph on my part. Max
meanwhile has been checking here and there on the radio. At 1940 we are to call
New York again.
The cloud floor
ahead is slowly slanting up toward our altitude. The sky is still clear blue
above, but a deeper blue now, and the sun's rays glint from behind.
At 1848 hours we
get our first sign of the weather ship Ocean Station Delta. She is patrolling
the seas near 40� west and 45� north. We see her as a brief flicker on the ADF
dial, which has been tuned to her frequency for some time now; almost as soon
as we see her, she is gone again. It is odd, in this world of radio
communication, how one comes to feel with those invisible radio waves, to sense
with the instruments—it is as though I actually had caught a brief glimpse of
this unknown ship somewhere far below, plunging in the dark seas, sending out
its pulsing beacon signal.
transmits regularly at H-plus-5 to 10; 20 to
25; 35 to 40; 50 to 55, so we wait now for the 50-to-55 signal. She is pretty
far away, on our left between Newfoundland and the Azores, but we have hopes
that we can raise her.