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China Clipper Recalled

April 2024
1min read

In these days of routine transoceanic air travel, it is difficult to comprehend the emotional significance of the first landing of the China Clipper in Manila Bay (“The Time Machine,” October/November 1985). 1 was in the Philippines at that time and, with an adventurous friend, paddled a native dugout banca canoe into Manila Bay to watch Pan American’s Capt. Edwin C. Musick land the Clipper in the calm waters of the bay. As the aircraft touched down, pandemonium broke loose from thousands of spectators who lined the breakwaters of the bay and from the bells and whistles of the many boats in the harbor. It was truly an experience I shall never forget.

I was an “Army brat,” and my father was stationed in the Philippines at that time. Our contacts with the States were remote and infrequent, since Army transport ships arrived only every three months with passengers and mail. Other mail, of course, was transported by commercial ocean liners, but nevertheless we all had the feeling that we were not only a long way from home but were also very much isolated from civilization as we knew it. The China Clipper changed all this.

The one disturbing part of the article is the realization that I was a part—albeit a small one—of a historical event that occurred half a century ago.

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