This is a continuation of an interview with Ralph Savory on November 8, 2007 by William Schneider at his home in Santa Rosa, California. His daughter, Diane, was also present during the interview. In this third part of a three part interview, Ralph talks about a winter emergency rescue flight he did on the Kuskokwim River, flying to Antarctica, and the travel adventures of his wife, Ida Savory and her friend, Alaska Link. Ralph also identifies photographs and tells stories about them, including the rescue of a plane that crashed in the mountains of the Alaska Range near McGrath, landing the first jet airplane at Juneau, Alaska, and training and testing to become a certified master pilot.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Pioneer Aviators
Date of Interview: Nov 8, 2007
Narrator(s): Ralph Savory
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
People Present: Diane Savory
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A winter emergency on the Kuskokwim River
Doing a little trading as a side business while on the Kuskokwim River
Traveling to Antarctica
Getting the airplane to Antarctica
Re-learning grid navigation
Arriving in Antarctica
A short stay at McMurdo and returning to Christchurch
Recommendation against having regular air service to Antarctica
Ralph's influence on others in the field of aviation
The adventures of Ida Savory and Alaska Link
Describing a photo of a Curtiss Wright airplane
Discussing a photo of pilots and telling the story of rescuing people from a crash
Discussing a photo of a pilot's winter uniform
Discussing a photo of a Strato-cruiser airplane
Discussing a photo of a Lockheed Lodestar airplane
Discussing a photo of a group of pilots
Discussing images of his certificates and identification cards
More discussion about identification cards
Continued discussion of identification cards
Getting certified as a master pilot
First landing of a jet in Juneau, Alaska
More discussion about the first landing of a jet in Juneau, Alaska
Describing a photo of Alaska Link and Ida Savory
Describing a photo of a DC-3 airplane
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BILL SCHNEIDER: Let’s re-tell that story about the medical emergency on the Kuskokwim. That time that you were -- RALPH SAVORY: Mrs. Larson? BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah.
RALPH SAVORY: Okay. Well, this happened in December the 5th, 1935. Getting close to the shortest day of the year.
And I was flying down the Kuskokwim with my airplane, headed for Bethel, and run into a snow storm, so we decided to stop at Akiak. That’s about 25 miles north of -- So there’s no roadhouse there, so we were invited to stay with the Snow family, who was a local family there.
So we spent the evening with them, and the head of the house cooked our dinner for us. And we all were getting ready to go to bed, about pretty close to midnight, I guess. And the trader, Mr. Larson that run the store there, he come over and said, “My wife is very ill.” And asked if I would go to Mountain Village and bring the doctor. Now Mountain Village is 165 miles west of Akiak.
So it was blacker than ink outside, and the wind was blowing, and the snow was coming down, and I had to explain to him that I couldn’t go because I couldn’t see.
And that I’d have to wait until daylight, well, what we call first light. So he was disappointed, but that’s the way it had to be. So next -- we got up early, probably 4 o’clock in the morning or some crazy thing, and started warming this airplane up, because I had just the hood put over the engine and one fire pot.
With the wind blowing and everything, it was very difficult to get the engine warm enough to start. So we worked on that thing until it finally started getting daylight, and we didn’t get away until probably 9:30 or 10 o’clock in the morning.
And with the short days, we had very limited daylight. So the wind was blowing so hard, it was a whiteout conditions. And everything on the ground was white, the clouds were white, and you get in this, when you have no horizon to guide your -- with keeping the airplane level, you have to stay out of it.
So I had to go back up the river, up to Kalskagamiut which was right where the closest point between the Kuskokwim River and the Yukon.
So we got up there, and it was good enough to proceed across this area from the -- we got across and got on the Yukon, and got down to Mountain Village. The weather was pretty good down there, but the wind was blowing like mad and it was cold.
RALPH SAVORY: Well, anyway we got over to Mountain Village, and I had a man with me, so I sent him up to get the doctor and I stayed down on the river ice and kept the engine running because it was so dog gone cold that I didn’t want to shut the engine off. So that went on for a couple hours there because the doctor was unaware that he was liable to get into something like this.
And I imagine he had patients to set up, make provisions for and everything. So they finally come down, but it was getting real late in the afternoon, and I was worrying about landing in the dark down at Akiak. But as luck would have it the clouds cleared up and we could take a direct course across the western -- Well, it’s kind of a plateau and it’s just covered with mirrors of little lakes, little pothole lakes. Thousands of them.
So we took off, and went -- I took a compass course. I’ll add about 10 degrees for drift because the wind, the north wind was blowing. And we hit the river some place between Bethel and Akiak, so I went back up and there was just still enough daylight to land there in the dark.
But it was getting dark, so we had to spend another night with the Snows. And the next morning I checked with the doctor and see what plans he had, and he said, "Well, we’d better stay here because she’s pretty low.” Meaning Mrs. Larson. So I thought, well, okay. So we got in the airplane and warmed up and went down to Bethel, and nothing doing down there. No business.
So while we were at Akiak there’s reindeer herders down there, Laplanders, were butchering. And they had meat for sale. So we come back there and we made a deal with them and we got 800 pounds of reindeer meat for 10 cents a pound. We loaded that out and went up -- started upriver again, and we finally ended up in Ophir.
And the store, I told them we had some reindeer meat that maybe they would be interested in. I’ve never done anything like that. It was really trading. Like a regular trader. So, by golly, the woman come out and looked at it, and she said, “We’ll take it all.” So 45 cents a pound. So I had quite a little profit there. Not profit, because I had to haul it up there.
But anyhow, that completed that little adventure. The going -- And it just kind of indicates the risk of living out in the boondocks. You get sick out there and there’s no doctor within -- or in the early days for miles away.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Hundreds of miles. RALPH SAVORY: So, anyhow.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, you wanted to talk about the Antarctica trip. But I think what I’m going to do is, I’m going to shut off your refrigerator for a minute. Ok. Let’s talk about the Antarctic trip.
RALPH SAVORY: Okay.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And maybe refresh me as to what year that was.
RALPH SAVORY: That was in 1957. October the -- the middle of October. ‘Cause I was flying down on the day after my birthday. My birthday was October the 14th, and I arrived on McMurdo Sound in Antarctica on the 15th. But anyhow, a Pan American vice president and one of the admirals got together. It was the year of the “Operation Deep Freeze,” when all the nations divvied up the Antarctica continent in to pie shape areas.
And the United States picked out the Ross Sea area, and McMurdo Sound and everything. So they decided that it was possible to run an airline down there. So they decided the Navy would charter Pan Am to take a group of sailors originating in Quonset, Rhode Island, and take them all the way to McMurdo Sound in the Antarctic.
And this trip was supposed to be sort of a shakedown on to see what -- if it was feasible. Well, I’m sitting up in Seattle -- and, boy, I never did figure out why somebody, some senior guy didn’t protest. But anyway, they called me up and they said -- asked me if I would take that trip down there. I said, “Sure.” Well, somebody had told them I was an Arctic expert from Alaska, so I guess that was the reason they picked me.
So the Atlantic Division brought this group out from Quonset, Rhode Island to San Francisco and they switched airplanes to a Boeing B3-77 Strato-cruiser. And San Francisco brought it to Honolulu and I had to head down to Seattle on our part of the route and took over command at Honolulu.
So then next day we got in the airplane and gathered up all our sailors and so forth. And we overnighted in Canton. Canton Island. It’s about 8-10 hours flying time. And next day, we fired up and we went to Fiji, Fiji, and we overnighted there. And then the next day we went to Christchurch on the south island of New Zealand, and we overnighted there.
Well, we gathered a lot of VIPs down there. The Prime Minister of New Zealand and some big wigs to take on down to McMurdo Sound with us. So the next day when it was time to leave Christchurch, some of these sailors got loose on the town and we were delayed quite a bit rounding them up and getting them back on that airplane. But anyhow they were going down there for 18 months, and they were all young people, so you could see that they were probably reluctant to go.
But, now the operation is 2500 nautical miles due south of Christchurch. And there was an Ocean Station ship right at the Arctic Circle. So we started out --
Oh incidently, I’ll go back a little bit. I had to -- the only provision I had to make is I had to go back down to San Francisco and go to ground school down there to brush up on my grid navigation. Because down there is so near the south pole the compass is no good. So we used grid type of navigation.
So having done that, I was all set. As I remember, we went right by the south magnetic pole, and it was sitting off here to our right, and the old compass was just swinging, magnetic compass was just swinging around. So we got a good demonstration of why you would have to use grid navigation.
But anyhow, everything went pretty well. We got over this Ocean Station ship there, so we thought it’d be a nice thing to do is have a stewardess come up and read the position report. Well, those sailors on that ship down there they hadn’t heard a lady's voice for quite some time, so it took quite a few readings to have them understand all that was in it.
There was a lot of “say again.” But anyhow, we got to McMurdo Sound. We landed in daylight because the days were getting long down there. It was the spring. We landed on the sea ice and there was no problem.
The ice was -- the Navy had smoothed out a couple of runways there. And then there was some Air Force equipment being out there too, and so -- So the ice was thick enough to hold us all with no problem. But anyhow, it was 30 below when we landed. And we had two very nice looking stewardesses aboard, and somebody told me at one time that they were --during this trip rather, that they were the first two females to be on the Antarctic continent. So that was a first.
So they had a great time. They had dog races, beard judging contest and -- and the admiral got a hold of me, Admiral Dufek, and he says, “Come on down to my quarters, we’ll have a drink.” Well, I didn’t tell him that I couldn’t drink, and I thought well, now this is an auspicious occasion. I can have a drink with the admiral. So I spent most of my time with him. And he was a very, very nice guy. He said, “Just call me George.” He said, “No formalities.” But I was having a tough time calling an admiral George, but anyhow we got by.
We were there on the ice for four and a half hours after they got through all the ceremonies, and the beard judging contests and so forth. So we loaded up, and we took off back to Christchurch. Another eleven and a half hours of flight time. So it all went very smooth, the airplane operated beautifully and everything.
But, I got back to San Francisco -- well, I had to make a special trip down there to brief them on what I’d found down there. So I recommended against trying to set up an airline down there, because the logistics of doing that would have been just impossible.
Because the only alternate we had in case McMurdo Sound was socked in with fog or something, was the place up where we first touched the continent, Cape Anadyr. And their airport was a bunch of gas drums painted international orange out on the ice. There were no buildings around it, just a smooth stretch of ice out there. So that was the only alternate airport that you had.
So I thumbs down on it. I says, it's too dangerous. But after we departed Christchurch, we took the airplane to Sydney, Australia and put it back on the line as a regular trip. And then I deadheaded back to Seattle. But that’s about all there is to that.
BILL SCHNEIDER: The logistics of fuel must have been difficult to arrange.
RALPH SAVORY: Well, they can get ships in there during a very short period in the summer time, so they had fuel tanks up in there.
But there was no landing strip on terra-firma. It was out there on the ice. So as soon as that ice started to get -- breaking up there, they were out of the airline operation.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Hang on a sec. So you must have influenced some people over the years to go into aviation.
RALPH SAVORY: Yeah, I have. One individual I can remember become an airline -- Alaska Airlines captain. He was a young fellow and -- I lived on a farm out from Seattle near a place called Enumclaw, and I met this young fellow.
I had to have somebody to take care of my animals and so forth when I was out on a trip or something, so he and his wife moved into an extra house that we had on the place, so he took care of them.
And he observed my activities of flying airplanes and so forth, and he become interested. And on his own, he went and learned to fly. And I got him a job with Pan Am for a while. He was in the -- as a mechanic. The first thing I know, he had quit Pan American and went to work for Boeing up there. And he had evidently done very well, because he got into the testing end of it. Being a flight engineer or something like that.
And then, first thing I knew he was a flight engineer for Alaska Airlines. And then as time went on, I found out that he was a co-pilot for Alaska Airlines. And a year or so later he was a captain for Alaska Airlines!
So, he served out his time until he was 60 as an airline captain with Pan-American. Not Pan American, Alaska Airlines. He’s done real well. Oh, a few other people, too, I can’t recall right now. But I remember this individual real well.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah, good. Well, we should talk about Alaska (Link) and Ida’s trips together. I guess they had a lot of fun being able to fly. RALPH SAVORY: Oh, yeah Alaska Link. BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah.
RALPH SAVORY: Well, Alaska Link was a Pan American traffic employee, and she was the sole operator at Seattle. Not Seattle, but Fairbanks. She sold the tickets, and escorted the people out to the airport to get aboard, and helped load them and everything.
And so she became a regular -- one of the real characters in the city of Fairbanks. And when we moved up to Fairbanks from Anchorage, my wife had got acquainted with Alaska, and they become real buddies up there. They did a lot of things together.
Several -- they made several world-wide trips on vacation. Alaska would get a month's vacation, and Ida would go along with her. And they went to Europe, and the Orient, India, and then over to Hawaii. So they had a great time together. Should I tell the story about the bidet?
BILL SCHNEIDER: Sure, sure. That’s kind of fun.
RALPH SAVORY: Well, Ida and Alaska ended up in Paris at a French hotel and they got to the bathroom, looking in there they found a strange facility in there. The French called a bidet. And they hadn’t seen one of these contraptions before.
So the way the story goes is that they were both standing over this facility looking down and wondering what in the world it is? What is it? What's the purpose? So either one of them reached out and pulled the chain, and it squirted water all over the pair of them. So they found out what a bidet was. Figured it out. End of story.
BILL SCHNEIDER: But they had some fun together.
RALPH SAVORY: Oh, yeah. Ida would always have trouble getting Alaska started in the morning. Whe wanted to lie in the bed. Ida would have a -- had a traveling iron along, a cold iron, traveling iron. And she’d lift the covers up and put it on Alaska’s rear end to get her out of bed.
And they were down in Barcelona, Spain and Alaska was dragging her feet. They had an airplane to catch. And Ida says, “Come on, come on, let's go!” And Alaska's, "Oh, Sav -- " She called Ida, Savory, “Oh, Savory, you worry too much!” So they finally ended up at the airport, and their trip had gone. So they had to wait there two or three days, so they decided they’d go to Mallorca. So that’s where they killed the time.
I remember that each one of them had a picture taken next to a horse that they had hired. But anyhow, that’s they way things went with them.
BILL SCHNEIDER: They had some fun. RALPH SAVORY: Yeah.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, Okay. I think we’re ready to take a look at some of the pictures. I'm going to shut this off.
Okay, what we’re going to now is, we’re going to take a look at some of these pictures from your collection. And I’m going to number them and then when we get back we’ll be able to link the picture with your descriptions of them.
So let’s start with the first one here. Let’s see, I’ve got to grab myself a pen.
RALPH SAVORY: Well ,that one with the brown color that’s workable. Most of them are dry.
BILL SCHNEIDER: So our first photocopy here says, “Ralph Savory’s Curtiss Thrush J6-7 Wright engine.” So tell us about that one. Click here for image.
RALPH SAVORY: Well, that’s an airplane that was flown out of here from -- Well, it was manufactured in St. Louis. The Curtiss Aircraft Company. And they flew it out to where I learned to fly, and it was sitting there and they had a price of $14,000 on it. Brand new airplane, 39 hours on.
So it sat there and it never sold. And Curtiss Wright got into trouble financially and the first thing you know that airplane was available for $1700. So, I had a partner and we went in and we bought the airplane.
So that was part of my training experience, was flying that airplane around. So when I decided I was going to Alaska, another pilot who was going assist me suggested we take it up to Alaska and go into business up there.
So I said fine. So I overhauled the airplane. I put these larger wheels on it. It had these high pressure wheels. I put new fabric on it all, and made it like a brand new airplane before I took it up there. So it was in good shape. So I flew that around for all of 1935 during the year, and then I sold it, because I didn’t like being a one man airline.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Right. Okay, now we’re looking at number 2, which says, “Star Air Service Pilots.” Click here for image.
RALPH SAVORY: Yeah. Well, the man standing in the doorway is Oscar Winchell, a famous bush pilot up there, and that’s myself on the right. And that was involved in a crash that we had there. Would you like to hear about this? BILL SCHNEIDER: Sure.
RALPH SAVORY: Well, I was on floats. My airplane. And I was coming up from down lower Kuskokwim and I landed at Iditarod, that’s 7 miles from Flat. At one time, it was quite a large institution. But at that time they had a population of one. The guy that took care of the warehouse.
And he had a telegram from Star Air Service to me, telling me that Dan Victor had departed Anchorage for Flat three days previous and hadn’t arrived. Would I have a look around?
I was the only airplane in the area on floats, so I got a lot of -- several cans of case gas and five -- gallon cans of gasoline extra so I’d have lots of gasoline. And I took off and went over to a place called Camel Back Mountain. It was quite a prominent land mark there.
And I wondered where would I go from here on a direct land to Rainy Pass where he'd have come over? Or will I go up around McGrath and have a look? I thought, well, I’ll just have a look in the area here. So I flew over to this vicinity where I had trouble with the Rudabakers and stuff, and I turned around and went right back over the -- pretty much the same area. And I didn’t see anything.
But I had flown over Dan and the crash two times. And he become evidently alerted, and evidently they were frantically trying to get a fire going because when I come back to this mountain I -- just out of fate for some reason, I turned around and took a look back over there where I had been. And way out in the distance was a little stream of blue smoke coming out of the trees. So I went over there, and by golly there they were. In the trees. You had to be right directly over the top to see it. Aboard the airplane.
I could see Dan down there. He was hopping around in pretty good shape. Later on when I saw him, he had his face all mashed in from shoving it into the instrument panel in the crash.
But, they had one of the ladies of the evening -- one of the ladies from the line. Billie Harding there, she had a broken leg. And there were two other fellows and they were in -- they made it through that. And one elderly gentleman had died during the crash and there wasn’t a mark on him. He was still in his seat. So, I found that out later. But anyhow, they were out in the wilderness, and if we hadn’t have found them I don’t know what would have happened to them.
BILL SCHNEIDER: How did you get them back?
RALPH SAVORY: Well, there’s a little bit more to the story here. I had it on floats, so I had to circle around, so I headed for Takotna where they had a phone line down to McGrath or -- Yeah, McGrath. So I got on the phone and I told the radio operator to get a hold of Alaska Airlines, or Alaska Star at the time, and get all the powers that be, and I had news for them. Well, than that’s a 10 minute flight from Takotna so I got in my airplane and high-tailed it down. And everybody was there and I was able to tell them exactly where the airplane was, and what it looked like, and everything.
So then Oscar Winchell was there and he got in a wheeled airplane, and we accomplished this all in one day. So he come over, and its two and a half hours from Anchorage to McGrath in the Bellanca. And he picked me up, and in the meantime I had picked up some food from the roadhouse, some loaves of bread and meat and so forth and put it in my sleeping bag.
And then I -- we -- I had to show Oscar where this airplane was, because you had to physically see it before you -- So I sat in the seat next to him, and I was just pointing for him, you go this way, and we flew right directly over it and he didn’t see it. I said, “Well, you flew right over him.” So we turned around and finally he sees it, right under here. Pretty soon he looked down, and says “Ohhh.” I said, “You got it.”
So there was a landing strip at Moore Creek, probably 6, 7 miles from them. So he took me over there and dumped me off, and he went down to Flat and he propositioned the miners down there for a bunch of volunteers, big husky guys to walk out there with him. He hauled three loads of those fellows over, so they had about 15 to 20 guys. And so they walked out. He took them up in the airplane and showed them where this was.
One guy was very familiar with the area so he was sort of the leader. And when they got within the area they started shouting, and pretty soon Dan had evidently heard them, and he shouted back, so they found them.
But anyhow they packed this one woman out, and the rest of them were able to walk out. And we got them out of there that evening. And I remember we were in the mess hall or whatever you want to call it, in the mine at Moore Creek all sitting around there. It looked like there were about 40 men in there, and this one little old gal and they were all yakking, and pretty soon she's, I guess this is okay to tell this, but she perked up and she says, “I have -- never in my life have I been in a room with so many men, and be unable to turn a trick!” So anyway she had a sense of humor and a broken leg.
Well, anyway from there on Oscar had -- I guess we overnighted there, because we had sleeping quarters in there. The next morning, Oscar flew the miners back to Flat and took the injured gal back to Anchorage, I guess. And then I took Dan -- he flew Dan and I up to McGrath, and Dan Victor, the guy that was pilot flew with me in the float plane.
But his face was so bad that when we got to the hotel, I talked him into going back in the backdoor and kinda tidy up a little bit before he went into the lobby. But that was the end of that story.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay, now we’re looking at picture number 3. Click here for image.
RALPH SAVORY: Yeah, that’s Pan Am’s winter uniform up there. We had a seal skin cap and regular navy overcoat and everything. Of course, when it got cold we had parkas and everything to go with it.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And when do you suppose that was taken?
RALPH SAVORY: That was -- When? That would have been in 1939.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Now we’re looking at picture number 4. Click here for image.
RALPH SAVORY: That’s a picture of a Boeing 377 or the Strato-cruiser. It was kind of a double deck flying machine. It had a lounge down below, and baggage in this area here. It would pack about 50 passengers most.
Some of them were rigged up with bunks at night. So it was quite a luxurious airplane. That’s the same type of airplane that we took to Antarctica.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uh huh. Ok, this is number 5. Click here for image.
RALPH SAVORY: That’s a picture of the Lockheed Lodestar. One of the -- Well, they’ve both got twin tails, but the whole picture is a Lockheed Lodestar. It was a 220mph airplane and that was put into service between Seattle and Fairbanks, up through the interior of British Columbia via Whitehorse , Juneau, I mean Prince George, Juneau, and Whitehorse.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And this is number 6. And we have a number of pilots here. Click here for image.
RALPH SAVORY: Yeah, that was a group of pilots that flew the Navy contract operation out to the Aleutians during World War II. And it was taken in the chief pilot’s office in Seattle. And the girl’s name was Helen Allen. And I could tell you the name of each one of them. Let’s see how we'd work out this.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, if you put it down here, I’ll just write out on it. So this is Helen Allen. And you point to the person and I’ll write.
RALPH SAVORY: This is Stewart Doe. D-O-E. He’s one of us that’s still alive. I'm going to start here. This is Roy Holm. BILL SCHNEIDER: H-O-L-M-E? RAPLPH SAVORY: Yeah. No, just M. H-O-L-M.
Leo Lorenz. BILL SCHNEIDER: L-O-R- RALPH SAVORY: Z BILL SCHNEIDER; E-N-Z? RALPH SAVORY: Yeah. BILL SCHNEIDER; Okay.
RALPH SAVORY: And this is Joe Walton. BILL SCHNEIDER; Okay.
RALPH SAVORY: This is John Amundsen. BILL SCHNEIDER: John Amundsen? RALPH SAVORY: Amundsen, right
BILL SCHNEIDER: Would you spell it for me?
RALPH SAVORY: A-M-U-N-D-S-E-N . I don’t know whether it’s “en” or --
And this is Tony O’Donnell. BILL SCHNEIDER: O-D-O-N-N-E-L-L RAPH SAVORY: Hm mm. BILL SCHNEIDER; Okay.
RAPH SAVORY: And the guy that’s just slipping over the tip is Gene Myring. He’s an old time Alaska pilot -- BILL SCHNEIDER: J-E-A-N?
RALPH SAVORY: Gene. G-E-N-E. Gene Myring, M-Y-R-I-N-G.
Now this fellow's name is Ogg, O-G-G. I forget -- Dick Ogg. And this guy I -- he was a pal. What in the devil was his name? I'll think of him.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah, do the ones that you know. Easy.
RALPH SAVORY: Then down at the bottom, this is R.W. Savory here. And this is Jimmy Stewart, that’s Alaska’s brother. This is Dick Holley. These guys are all Alaskans. BILL SCHNEIDER: H-O-L-L-E-Y RALPH SAVORY: Yeah.
Frank Fuller, he’s not an old timer. And this is Buckshot Lean.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh, how did he get that name?
RALPH SAVORY: Well, he got it because his name was Burton B. Lean, which carried the abbreviation to BB Lean. So he decided he would upgrade his name to Buckshot. He went to court and had it officially changed. So we missed some guys in here. This is Bill Knox. This is Murray Stewart. This guy, I'd know him as well as -- you wouldn't know him. He was an easterner.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, let's -- we'll keep going because you'll think of him.
RALPH SAVORY: Wait a minute, I can find out who he is. Hang on. I got it right here. Moody, Douglas Moody.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Douglas Moody. Okay, so we got everybody identified on picture number 6. Good.
So now we have number 7, which is your certificates and all. And I think that those are fairly self explanatory.
RALPH SAVORY: Yes, they are. Driver's license in Honolulu. And my DeMolay card. I was DeMolay when I was a kid in high school. Driver's license. California operators. Click here for image.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And then number eight is more of the same. Click here for image.
RALPH SAVORY: Yeah, that’s identification that FAA required, and all that.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And number 9 is more of the same. Click here for image.
And now number 10 and 11, I’d like to have you explain a little bit, because this is the testing what they did. Click here for image.
RALPH SAVORY: This is a -- on the outside Pan American had a chief engineer who was in charge of the pilot group that required all this ground school and studying to get the title of a master pilot. So the international correspondence school operated the thing.
So when you felt you were ready, understood it, you asked to be examined and you went through this whole series of tests on international law, seamanship, this and everything. Navigation and everything. So that’s a record of it. That entitled me to the -- being designated as a master pilot. Now that was when this fellow (Preastor) disappeared from the scene, I think they pretty much forgot about it, because the guys didn’t go along with it.
BILL SCHNEIDER: But I guess with for those flying boats you had to have seamanship, too, huh?
RALPH SAVORY: Oh yeah, that’s right. They’d prepare you for it. They’d even tell you how to patch the hull if you ran over a coral reef. Tells you to fill it with concrete.
BILL SCHNEIDER: This is number 12 we’re looking at. Click here for image.
RALPH SAVORY: Yeah, that shows the Pan-American 707 approaching the terminal area after making the first landing there. And we had half the town out there to celebrate the arrival of a jet into Juneau, which was considered to be quite a feat, because it was supposed to be a high performance airplane, which is was, but it could be handled in the same manner as the --
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay, we’re looking now at number 13. Which I think is the same scene. Click here for image.
RALPH SAVORY: Well, it’s the same scene. It’s the initial landing there. And it's -- the night prior to its arrival they had quite a bit of snow, light fluffy snow. It was cold. And mainly on touch down, I wanted to demonstrate that the jet could be landed shortly and without using up the whole runway.
So I put on a lot of reverse. And the idea was that the minute the wheels hit, you’d put the speed breaks on which would raise some barn doors on the top of the wing to kill all the lift. And then you pull the throttles back which threw the engines into reverse. And you had to reverse -- Of course, that’s air blowing and it created quite a cloud there. In this photo, you can just see the nose of the airplane. That all happened on February the 3rd, 1960.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Number 14, we’re looking at Alaska Link, right? Click here for image.
RALPH SAVORY: Yeah, where were they then, Honolulu? Yeah, they were over in Honolulu celebrating.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And who's she with?
RALPH SAVORY: She’s with Ida Savory, my wife.
BILL SCHNEIDER: On one of their trips? RALPH SAVORY: Huh?
BILL SCHNEIDER: On one of their trips.
RALPH SAVORY: On one of their many trips. Yeah. They were having a ball.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. And the last one here, number 15. Click here for image.
RALPH SAVORY: Yeah, that was that borrowed DC-3. It was destined for Pan American’s facility in China, China National Airline. But we had use of it to operate a few trips over through British Columbia to prove it was feasible. So soon as we got our Lockheed Lodestars this airplane disappeared.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Alrighty, that’s a good record. Thank you very much.