By ATCS Frederick W. Pauling USNR (Ret))
The photograph was sent to me from a friend and fellow crew member of VP-49 and Mariner/Marline Association member Lou Marrero. Lou wondered if I knew anything about this incident depicted in the photograph. Lou received the photo from Cdr. Steve Kaiser USU (ret) who was a VP-49 pilot at the time – but not the pilot of this plane. As it was, I was attached to VP-49 at the time of the incident that occurred in the 1961/1962 time frame. The incident happened in Key West, Florida. Although I wasn’t in Key West at the time of the incident or have I seen an official account of this unusual landing; I did talk to several of the crew members when they returned to Bermuda. In this time period both VP-49 and VP-45 were operating out of Naval Station Bermuda.
These two seaplane squadrons were the only two left on the East Coast. East Coast Naval Stations that still maintained sea lanes were few and far between: Norfolk, Jacksonville, Key West, and Guantanamo Bay. Therefore, when a mission took one or more of the seaplanes out of the range of Bermuda, one of these Naval Stations were used to provide service to the seaplanes.
In the case of Key West the sea lanes weren’t being properly maintained and many of the landing lights were not functioning. The incident occurred at dusk as LP-9 was attempting a landing and was unaware lighting problem. The lights designating the start of the sea lane were not illuminated and neither were many of the side lights. As told to me, as the seaplane was landing, what appeared to be lights at the beginning of the sea lane was actually the end of the sea lane. When LP-9 committed to land, the mistake was realized and full power was given to get back into the air. The seaplane got some altitude but not enough to get over the small island at the end of the sea lane.
The small island was actually an ammunition storage area, separated from the main base by a small wooden bridge. A water breaker protecting the island was made of large rocks and rail road ties (and rails?). The bottom of the sea plane obtained major damage as it flew through the rail road ties and landed in the ammunition dump. None of the flight crew was hurt and they were able to simply exit the seaplane from the forward entrance onto the roadway.
As I remember, the radioman told me that he logged the touch down time for the water landing and a minute later he logged the HIGH and DRY time. Which are probably the shortest time logs between a water landing and retrieval onto the beach. Or he may have possibly said he only logged the High and Dry time without a water touch down.
Maybe someone else in the M/M Association has knowledge of this incident and can add more details to this story such as exact date, actual damage, and how was LP-9 transported to a repair facility?
Summertime / Frederick W. Pauling
Sea Story / Joe Davis
Congrats From Admiral H / Jim McGill.
First Navy Football Game / Don Zickefoose.
High and Dry / Frederick W. Pauling
Charleston to Alameda / Dick Brodeurg
Roosevelt / John R. Carlin
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