Carl I.  Earth Measurer. Excerpt from unpublished
Aftermath of War: Rockets, Reconnaissance,
and the Velocity of Light
Return to Florida and Washington
was flown back to Florida and shortly afterward to Washington
to Group Headquarters. I considered that, before long, I would
be sent back to the Coast & Geodetic Survey, but that was
not to be. While I was completing my reports, I ran across a
report of a new bombing technique that was to occupy me for
a long time. It was the Shoran blind bombing instrument. When
using Shoran, two ground stations called transceivers, for the
fact that they automatically received and retransmitted a signal,
were established at known positions. The aircraft also had equipment
of this type with two channels to receive the retransmitted
signals from each ground station. The operator in the aircraft,
by keeping the retransmitted signals aligned on an oscilloscope
with a signal pip of the outgoing signal by turning a device
known as a goniometer, could actually read distance on a dial,
the elapsed time being changed into distance by the goniometer.
The actual theory and practice were far more complicated than
this simple explanation, but that explanation will serve for
this purpose. Thus, the distance from the two known stations
to some target to be bombed could be computed, and when the
distance on the dials read the correct figures, the bomb could
first time Shoran was used in Italy, a bridge was knocked out
which had been bombed many times by visual bombing and still
was undamaged. It was a coincidence that this happened because
of two errors which compensated. For one thing, the Air Force
personnel who made the computations did not know that there
was such a thing as a geodetic datum and attempted to compute
the distances as if both ground stations were on the same datum,
which they were not. Then they made a second error in computation
which exactly compensated the datum error. Finally, after making
a number of misses after that, they had a British officer who
knew something of geodesy make their computations and they began
to have success in hitting their target. The Army Map Service
had heard of the instrument and had already begun some tests
of its use for photogrammetric use for positioning the aircraft
when the pictures were taken. However, I dreamed up a different
use which in the end proved very successful. I reasoned that
if the distance between two ground stations could be measured
simultaneously, we could actually measure the distance between
two points on the ground by establishing Shoran ground station
there and fly across the line between the two stations.
Then if a recorder could be made which would automatically record
the distances to each station at all times, the two distances
could be added and the minimum sum distance would be when the
aircraft was exactly on the line joining the two stations. Then
the minimum distance sum, corrected for height of the aircraft
and certain other corrections, could be reduced to an accurate
distance. Thus, instead of mapping by triangulation or measuring
all the angles of triangles we could measure all the sides of
triangles. The process would be trilateration not triangulation.
Preliminary Investigation of Shoran Project
the outset, it seemed to be a remote possibility that I could
sell my idea to the Air Forces. However, it was surprisingly
easy. I asked for a conference with the CO of the group. After
I discussed the idea with him, he said"What do you want to do?"
I told him that first I wished to go to the RCA Research Center
in New York and discuss the idea with Stuart W. Seeley, who
had invented and developed Shoran.
I would like to discuss the idea with the Army Engineers at
Wright Field because they had already conceived of its use for
photogrammetry. Third, I would like to talk with the original
Shoran bombing unit which was stationed at Eglin Field in Florida.
To my surprise, he said, "Write your own orders."
the next month I did little but travel. Stuart W. Seeley of
the RCA Research at 711 5th Avenue in New York was immediately
enthusiastic and said, "Why didn't we think of that in the first
place? There is much that can be done to make the instrument
more accurate." He broke out the drawings and schematic diagrams
and started to tell me what could be done. I explained that
the idea was in its infancy, but I would see him later.
Army Engineers at Wright Field were also enthusiastic at the
idea of using the instrument both for photogrammetric and for
Shoran Squadron in Florida was receptive to the project. The
CO gave me permission to talk to his officers and men saying
that if any of them wished for a transfer to take part in the
project, he would be willing to let them go. I returned to Washington
with a number of names of officers who seemed bright and enthusiastic.
upshot of the matter was that the Commanding Officer of our
group took my report to the Pentagon; he came back with full
approval of the project. In my report, I had stated that a good
place to do the preliminary research was near Denver, Colorado,
where we could put one station on Pike's Peak and one to the
east. In a short time, the entire group had been given orders
to move to Buckley Field, a few miles east of Denver. At the
same time, the transfer of the Shoran officers whose names were
in my report was requested. By late 1944, we were established
at Buckley Field at Denver, and some simple missions of the
line crossing method had been made. Results were encouraging,
but it was necessary to await the development of the automatic
recorder to try the technique. Minneapolis-Honeywell had been
awarded the contract, and it was necessary to make a number
of flights to Minneapolis and to other cities where some of
the component parts were made. My new Shoran officers were Paul
Jordan, Bill Adkisson, and Carl Jacobsen. There were others,
but those named contributed most to the success of the project.
A number of good enlisted men were transferred at the same time.
Stu Seeley kept in close touch with us. At one point he had
us fly to New York with the airborne instrument, and he spent
a week in the laboratory working in his shirt sleeves with Adkisson
and Jacobsen clearing up some bugs and suggesting changes in
wiring, all at no charge to the government. On another occasion,
he came to Buckley Field and he spent a week with us cautioning
us not to reveal his presence in case his office tried to get
in touch with him.
test stations were located on Pike's Peak, Colorado, near Cheyenne,
Wyoming, Garden City, Kansas, La Junta, Colorado, and Imperial,
Nebraska. The Pike's Peak station was at an altitude of 14,000
feet and the other stations varied from 4,300 feet to about
2,000 feet. It was fortunate that we had a station on Pike's
Peak. Because of that, Stuart Seeley discovered a source of
error that had to be overcome. The Pike's Peak station was visible
from our airplane parking place on Buckley Field, and a series
of discrepancies were discovered in readings from the Buckley
Field point to the mountain station. It was a source of much
investigation until Stu made the discovery that, when personnel
were walking around the airplane, the readings were affected.
He actually walked around the aircraft calling to the operator
to call out the readings. The discovery was made that the distance
reading was affected by variations in the strength of the signal
and that those variations were caused by interference between
the direct wave and the reflected wave. With that discovery
we were on the road to success.
The Discovery The The Assumed
Velocity of Radio Waves Might Be Erroneous
had been able to measure a number of lines between the stations
mentioned above and also since they were tied to triangulation
stations, we could compare Shoran measured distances with the
computed distances. I noticed a startling fact. The error increased
with distance, but in a most uniform rate. I was hesitant to
suggest that we were measuring the velocity of radio waves but
that possibility existed. At about that time, I read a news
release about a claim being made by an English physicist, named
Essen, that he had obtained a new velocity of radio waves, which
was good news, for when I used Essen's velocity our Shoran measurements
compared closely with the computed distances. However, much
more research was needed before we could make the claim ourselves.
For one thing, a method had to be developed that would eliminate
the error we had discovered that was a function of the signal
strength. However, we were sure that we were on the right track.
The Project is Almost Canceled
1945 the war had ended, and there was much talk of mustering
many troops out of the service. Meanwhile, our Shoran detachment
had been organized into a squadron designated as the 7th Geodetic
Control Squadron. The Squadron had a commanding officer but
he did not understand what we were doing and was not sufficiently
interested to find out. Also, the Group staff never took an
interest in the project. The result was that the entire project
was almost dropped. I knew some high ranking officers in the
Pentagon; one of whom was a scientist and had a PHD degree.
I got word through the back door, so to speak, that our project
was in danger of being canceled. A few days later the group
commanding officer received a TWX that this scientist was coming
to Buckley to investigate the project. The Group staff was frightened
believing that a great "boondoggle" was uncovered and tried
to keep the officers from the Pentagon from coming over to the
headquarters of my detachment and talking to me. However, the
scientist insisted and came to talk to me. I went through the
whole theory of Shoran Geodetic Control with him, showed him
the results we had gotten, the remaining sources of error which
we had discovered, and the steps we were taking to eliminate
them. He also saw the enthusiasm of the officers and enlisted
men who were engaged on the project. It was obvious that he
was impressed and, after an hour of briefing, he went back to
the Group headquarters. He was there about an hour when I received
a call from Group headquarters asking me if I could come over.
From the Colonel down, they all fawned on me asking what they
could do for me, and what we needed to make the project a success.
That they had been told off immediately became apparent. I told
them that we had made a requisition for some equipment from
Wright Field which had been ignored. I also told them that many
of our Shoran flights had been called off by the operations
officer, who had no conception of what we were attempting to
do. I listed several other cases of interference and received
promises of no more interference. It was a remarkable about
face and from that time on, we were VIP's.
received a great deal of publicity after that episode. The Denver
papers were full of interviews on the subject of Shoran. I was
invited to give an interview on KOA, the NBC station in Denver.
The Women's National Aeronautical Association invited me to
give a paper at their annual meeting at the Broadmoor Hotel
in Colorado Springs. I was their guest speaker there overnight
and, when I tried to buy a drink at the bar, I was informed
that they had instructed the bartenders that I was not to pay
for drinks. At the banquet I sat at the head table next to the
famous aviatrix, Mrs. Blanch Noyes. From time to time, the Denver
Post would have a write-up on certain individuals which they
called the Denver Post Hall of Fame and in the May 4, 1946 issue
they listed me with my picture and had an interview. All in
all, it was a heady experience to suddenly jump from boondoggler
to a place of honor. The wraps had been taken off publicity
for Shoran because the war was over, and this new application
of its use was greeted readily by the press. I was called upon
many times to appear as a speaker at various scientific meetings
and at business organizations.
Former Chinese General Recalls Visit at Buckley Field
February, 1980, a geodetic colleague, Dr. Charles Whitten, who
had been former president of the geodetic section of the IUGG
attended a triennial meeting in Canberra, Australia. The mainland
Chinese had a large delegation of approximately sixty in attendance.
Upon his return he telephoned me and said he had been approached
by one of the Chinese who had enquired about me.
prompted me to locate the two news clippings from the Denver
newspapers which are reproduced below.
time later following the move of our Wing to McDill Field in
Florida, I was in Washington for a conference and Marian and
I entertained General Chi-Cho Wang in our Bethesda home together
with several other prominent geodesists. Of course, following
Chinese custom, he insisted on taking us together with all the
other guests to dinner the following night at a Chinese restaurant
in Washington. There Marian experienced her first genuine Chinese
food. She was astonished at the ability of the Chinese to utilize
common ingredients and produce "squash" soup served at that
dinner. In the usual manner, there were a total number of dishes
to equal the number of guests present. Inasmuch as there were
ten guests we were served ten different dishes exclusive of
the rice. The dishes, in accordance with custom, were placed
in the center of the table, and each guest served himself from
those dishes. The Chinese tea was most delicious also.
was strange to have him remember my name and recall our Denver
meeting after a lapse of thirty five years. Our meeting in Chungking
had been very brief. [Editor's note: the copies of the newspaper
articles were not included in the autobiography. It appears
that CIA met General Wang in China in 1944 and then again while
at Buckley Field in Colorado in the late 1940's.]
7TH Geodetic Control Squadron Moves to Florida
question arose immediately after the visitors from the Pentagon
had left as to the best place to continue the research. We needed
a lot of lines measured over water to investigate our solution
of the signal intensity problem. I had already selected a Caribbean
area which would make an excellent test of that theory. There
we could also tie Cuba and some of the Bahamas Islands to the
United States, something that had never been done. The upshot
of the matter was that the 7th Geodetic Squadron was detached
from the group at Denver and sent to McDill Field at Tampa,
Florida, where we immediately were increased to full strength.
Meanwhile, we had developed a method of correction of the measured
distances for the delay caused by the passage of the ray through
the atmosphere, where it was affected by the pressure, temperature
and the humidity of the air. It was necessary to measure those
three quantities, and I was able to get the cooperation of the
Weather Squadron at Miami, known as the Hurricane Hunters to
measure those quantities, whenever we flew a mission. Later
our own planes were fitted with the instruments required for
that purpose, and the measurements were made by our own planes
the time being, the signal intensity problem was partially solved
by developing an instrument to measure the signal strength during
a mission and creating a signal strength correction. This problem
was later solved in a better way.
III Shoran Project in Florida - Bahama - Cuba Area
project flown from McDill Field in Tampa was designated as Phase
III. For this project, there were four stations located at triangulation
stations in Florida. Four unknown points were located in the
Bahamas Islands, four were in Cuba, and one was near the end
of the island chain west of Key West, Florida. All lines possible
were flown between all stations and were corrected by the signal
intensity correction which we had derived. This was obviously
a crude method of correction, and as stated above, a later method
was devised to correct the lines. However, remarkable comparisons
between the known lengths in Florida and the Shoran measured
lengths seemed to verify the assumption made in Denver, that
we were actually capable of measuring the velocity of Radio
a paper I wrote for the Transactions of the American Geophysical
Union entitled, "Can The Velocity of Radio Waves be Measured
by Shoran", I quoted the figures obtained that now seemed to
be verified from the other sources:
(1) By L. Essen in England using a small cavity resonator and,
(2) By Erik Bergstrand in Sweden actually using light in an
instrument he called the Geodimeter. The various results all
considered preliminary were:
Essen 288793 Kms. per second
Bergstrand 299796 Km. per second
Aslakson 299792.4 Km. per second
previously accepted value of 299776 km. per second seemed to
be proven erroneous. As a matter of fact, all three observers
later closely approached a new figure of 299793 Km per second
by more refined methods and, in addition, Froome in England
employing a microwave interferometer obtained the same figure.
to say, the work attracted much attention and was published
in many languages throughout the world. It was even published
in Russia and in Yugoslavia.
Personnel of 7th Geodetic
problems were encountered in the make-up of the 7th Geodetic
Control Squadron. We had no source of computers except enlisted
men, and the Shoran computations were rapidly becoming more
complicated all the time, as we refined the techniques. The
problem had to be resolved by designing computation forms and
directions to use them so that any bright enlisted man could
use the forms. Thus, we had men with no more than a high school
education who were making complicated least square adjustments
and complicated weather computations without knowing the theory
behind the design of the form. We were allowed to scan the records
of any new men who arrived in the squadron, and if they had
a high IQ, we asked for interviews with them. We would then
take them through the various computing forms and show them
the type of solution that was made in each form. After that,
if they expressed a desire to become a computer, we would ask
for them and in nearly every case they became good computers.
Not only did they become successful computers, but most of the
brighter ones eventually wanted to learn the theory and so took
courses in mathematics to learn it. Esprit de Corps was very
high. They were proud of what they were doing, particularly
after they became known by the nicknames of "The Professors".
In fact, they organized a league bowling team called the "Professors".
entire squadron was proud of their work. The war was over, and
almost everybody in the Air Force felt they were marking time,
but our personnel felt that they were accomplishing something
worth-while. I made a point of listening to any man of any rank
in the squadron who thought they had a good idea, and many times
good ideas emerged in this manner. If the idea was not practical,
I would explain why I believed it was not, instead of discarding
it off hand.
September 1946, I was promoted to the temporary rank of Captain
in the Coast and Geodetic Survey and therefore, adopted the
rank of colonel in the Air Forces.
one occasion, I received orders to proceed to Wright Field to
attend a meeting of the American Society of Photogrammetry.
No reason was given for the orders. You can imagine my surprise
when I arrived and found my name on the printed program as one
of the speakers on Shoran for geodetic control. I hurriedly
got some material together and gave the paper as the program
another occasion, I was detailed to temporary duty in Minneapolis
to visit Minneapolis-Honeywell, who were making some modifications
in our Shoran Photographic Recorder. Enroute there, we ran into
an overcast and the pilot should have obtained clearance to
land elsewhere; however, he continued on. We were flying our
Shoran B-17, and there were no deicers on the wings. Just out
of Minneapolis, we ran into icing conditions and as we were
about to land on the run-way, the controls froze slightly and
the right wing dipped. It was at night, and we could not see
the damage. The pilot gave the engines the gun and made a second
pass at the runway. The previous attempt to land had unfrozen
the controls and this time we made a landing. It was with an
eerie feeling that we saw the result of our previous attempt
to land. The tip of the right wing was bent up four feet. That
plane remained at Minneapolis for three months while the wing
was repaired. Another B-17 was sent to pick us up.
Shoran Conference at Tampa in August, 1946
this time, Shoran began to attract wide attention. We were visited
by Canadian geodesists who were about to put our developments
to use to survey the northern provinces of Canada. A large conference
was called in Tampa in late August which was attended by over
sixty officers, scientists, and engineers representing all branches
of the armed services. The following is a direct quotation of
the McDill Fly Leaf, the base newspaper:
Shoran Conference Brings Honor to the 7th Geodetic Control Squadron
the conference ended on Thursday afternoon, it was the opinion
of all present that the 7th had done a remarkable job thus far
on their research on Shoran and it's adaption to Geodetic Surveying."
spite of the successful conference, numerous changes had been
made in the upper echelon at McDill Field, and, as usually is
the case, all the new staff officers were unfamiliar with our
work and lacked appreciation for the necessity of continuing
a result, orders were written transferring certain of my key
personnel, both commissioned and enlisted. The organizations
to which they were transferred were routine and yet it was wrecking
the 7th Squadron. At the same time, Admiral Colbert, USC&GS,
also had orders cut for me to return to my service. The staff
headquarters in Bolling Field was more aware of the value of
our work than the staff in McDill Field. I was therefore called
to Bolling Field for a conference with the Commanding General
there. I was asked if I could not get my orders back to the
C&GS changed to let me remain at McDill until I finished
the project. That gave me the opportunity to say, "Probably
I could get them changed, but it might not be worth while."
When asked why, I explained about the interference with my key
personnel and said that it would be impossible to complete the
project if they were continually being transferred away. Right
there the General composed a TWX to McDill ordering no more
transfers of my personnel without my approval of the transfer.
That was hard for the staff at McDill to take. My popularity
with the general was low previously, but this was the nadir.
flew back to McDill and upon arrival was met by one of my key
officer mathematicians who told me he had received orders to
report to Selfridge Field, a fighter base in Michigan. I did
what the General at Bolling had authorized me and sent him a
telegram telling of the transfer orders. Immediately, a TWX
was dispatched to the General at McDill canceling the transfer
and ordering no more transfers of the personnel of the 7th squadron
without the express approval of the staff at Bolling Field.
That of course made me persona non grata with General Hutchinson
at McDill and he tried to berate me for not going through channels.
I explained that had I gone through channels, it would have
been too late to retain my officer.
young aide to the general was a good friend and often entertained
me by telling of the conversations that took place in staff
meetings about that damned Aslakson. However, there were no
more transfers. I completed my project and wrote my report in
about two more months.
USC&GSS LYDONIA - The Electronic Position Indicator
immediately upon my return to the Washington Office, I received
orders to report to the LYDONIA which was completing a hydrographic
survey off the coast of Maine. As a result of my Shoran experience,
my orders also included an investigation of possible errors
in the Coast Survey designed Electronic Position Indicator which
was being used in that survey. One month's work remained and
then she was to go to Norfolk to be decommissioned.
was an interesting month for me because of certain errors I
discovered in the EPI. In her work, there was one place where
she crossed the line between two stations. Examining the readings
at those stations, I was able to prove that the EPI being used
there had a definite error with distance which could either
be a function of the velocity or of some component part of the
EPI. I developed a set of tables to be used in completing the
final report of the survey.
In the Gulf of Mexico
the autumn of 1947, I was attached to the USC&GS HYDROGRAPHER
as Executive Officer. She was under the command of Captain Peacock
and was based at first at Pensacola, Florida, and later at St.
Petersburg, Florida. There was much to be learned about the
EPI, which was being used for surveys in the Gulf of Mexico.
In October and November 1947, extensive tests were run to attempt
to find the source of errors. Some errors had not been suspected
prior to the tests. It was discovered that certain errors were
caused by the type of antenna used. This enabled us to adopt
an antenna which produced no, or very little, error.
it was proven that the velocity of the ground wave varied greatly
over terrain of certain type from the velocity over sea water.
This produced a very large error which could only be eliminated
by using EPI ground stations at location where the entire path
of the ground wave was over sea water, it being impractical
to attempt to develop a different correction for various types
I arrived at the ship, I also found that it was customary to
place buoys at various distances offshore and nose the vessel
up to the buoys at various times during the progress of the
survey to take EPI readings, keep a record of those readings,
and thereby establish a "calibration point". Captain Peacock
had simply been averaging the readings made at the "Calibration
Buoys". It seemed more logical to establish the buoy coordinates
by a least square adjustment using the differences in the readings
from the various ground stations in the same manner as differences
in a level adjustment are made, using differences in elevations.
Such an adjustment was made by me assisted by Noble Martin who
was enthusiastic about the method. In our report we listed the
following sources as possible reasons for the errors, some of
which had been investigated at length.
1. Personal equation of observer
2. Reading error
3. Directional effect due to the type of antenna being used.
4. Instrumental changes
5. Changes in meteorological conditions
6. Possible error as a function of distance
changing our system of calibration to eliminate some of the
above errors and by making the least square adjustment of the
positions of the calibration buoys, we improved the quality
of the survey a great deal. Our remaining time in the Gulf survey
was routine. We changed our base to St. Petersburg and the ship's
runs became greater, and we spent most of 1948 based there.
Captain Peacock was retired in the summer of 1948 and Anderson
assumed command. Shortly thereafter, I was detached and ordered
to Washington. The reason for my detachment became evident upon
my return. I was given a new set of orders to make a plan for
completing the Alaskan surveys.
on the HYDROGRAPHER in the Gulf, I loved to watch the play of
the porpoises at the bow of the ship. One day, I watched a mother
and her baby for a long time. The mother kept a straight course
just in front of the bow. The baby, which was not over two feet
long, kept pace with her but continually rolled over and under
her coming out on her other side. They kept up this play for
at least twenty minutes.
my assignment on the HYDRO, I developed a serious inflammation
of the sciatic nerve in my right hip and was sent to the Marine
hospital in New Orleans for treatment. I had been there several
days, most of the time in great pain, when one day as an afterthought
I called the doctor's attention to several hard lumps or knots
in my left hand. The doctor's face lighted up and he said, "That's
Dupueytren's Contracture!" We will have to operate on that hand.
It seems that it is an uncommon affliction, and there were many
young interns there who needed to view such an operation. The
upshot of the matter was that, in a very few days I was prepared
for the operation. When I was wheeled in, the last thing I remember
before I passed out was that I was in the "greenhouse", an operating
room with a glassed-in balcony above which was lined with young
doctors faces about to observe the operation. The operation
was successful, and I never had a recurrence but, for nearly
a week, the after-effects were serious and I was in great pain.
I asked the doctor what the affliction was, and he brought me
a book which described it. It seems there is no known cause.
Knots form on the tendons and the only cure is surgery. The
palm must be laid open and the knots excised.
years later, I had the same affliction on the right hand while
I was in Washington, and I was operated on in the Bethesda Naval
Hospital. This time the surgeon tried a new technique which
was almost painless. He attached an evacuated test tube to the
wound which kept the hand drained, so the swelling was kept
down. The test tube was changed daily as it filled with fluid.
However, the surgeon was somewhat testy, and his young assistants
annoyed him so that he accidently cut a nerve in the palm of
my right hand. As a result, I have lost some of the feeling
in the palm but that effect is not serious.
the fall of 1949, we received a telegram that Dad had had a
stroke at his home in Trevose, Pennsylvania, where he was living
with my stepmother, the former Agnes Arneson, whom Dad had married
at our home in Bethesda, Md. It was a marriage which Marian
had promoted because she liked Agnes, and she and Dad had been
widow and widower for many years. Agnes was a second cousin
and I went to Trevose, but Dad never recovered consciousness
so that he could recognise us. He lingered in the hospital for
several days, finally passing away on January 15, 1949. We stayed
there for the funeral. Arnold, my brother, and my sister Dorothy
also attended the funeral.
Hossfeld, the president of the Hossfeld Universal Iron Bender
Co. came as well. For many years prior to his death, Dad had
sold the bender which was a most remarkable piece of equipment.
Mr. Hossfeld thought a great deal of Dad and told us he was
a remarkable man and a fine salesman.
to the funeral, Arnold and I went to see the lawyer who handled
Dad's business. We told him to turn over our share of the estate
to our sister Dorothy who was divorced from George Loesch whom
she married when we lived in Erwin, South Dakota. She had very
little money, but she was a competent stenotypist and was on
call enough to earn a fair living. The lawyer expressed surprise
at our action. He said it was the first time he had ever known
any relative to take that action in his entire career.
was cremated and buried in the historic cemetery of the Norwegian
Lutheran Church in Waterford, Wisconsin. A second service was
held there. Mother was also buried there as well as Dad's brother
Baxter. I was unable to attend that service but Arnold did.
Journey to Alaska - Report
on Methods of Completing the Alaskan Surveys
after I returned to Washington, a meeting was held at the National
Airport by representatives of all the mapping agencies of the
Government. Representatives of the USC&GS, the Army Map
Service, the Geological Survey. the U.S. Air Force and a number
of officers of the General Staff were present. A decision had
already been made to complete all Alaskan surveys by 1952. I
was given the assignment of going to Alaska and making a reconnaissance.
I was then to provide a plan for completing the surveys in the
orders were dated July 1, 1949. That meant I had only about
three months of good weather to make the reconnaissance and
a very short time to provide the plan. My orders were very liberal.
They authorized me to use any method of transportation available.
This meant commercial flights, chartered aircraft, regularly
scheduled Air Force planes, or on occasion a special flight
authorized by the Air Force. During the next three months, I
used all four methods of transportation. My orders were extremely
liberal. They authorized me to travel anywhere I considered
necessary to complete my mission, stay as long as necessary,
and to return when the mission was completed. I enjoyed my tour,
although I had several close calls in that dangerous flying
one occasion I was reconnoitering the Colville River Valley
from Umiat, which had a small air strip, to the mouth of the
river. I was using a Norseman bush plane which I had chartered
at Point Barrow. At the mouth of the river on the Pacific side,
I landed at Point Lay to contact a Coast Survey party in camp
there. We landed on a soft sand beach. When we attempted to
take off we had great difficulty in getting airborne because
it was hard to acquire flying speed in the sand. After several
tries we were airborne and we headed for Point Barrow on the
fifty miles from Point Barrow, we received a radio message that
Barrow was "socked in" and we could not land. We headed south
to land once more at Umiat when suddenly a dense layer of clouds
began covering everything in that direction. Only the tops of
the mountains of the Brooks Range emerged from the cloud bank.
The pilot was becoming alarmed, and he said, "Well, I guess
the only possibility that remains is to head for the Brooks
Range and pancake her down in the tundra. But with these small
wheels, she is bound to flip over on her back and burn." That
was a cheerful thing to look forward to, but we headed that
way. Suddenly, below us, we caught a glimpse of running water
through a hole in the clouds. That could only mean that we were
over the Colville River. The pilot practically did a nose dive
down through that hole in the clouds and came out about 200
feet above the river. It was in a canyon there with banks on
either side rising to several hundred feet. The canyon was also
narrow and had many curves. My pilot recognized from the canyon
that we were approximately forty miles below Umiat. The clouds
were just above us, and we had to stay low to see anything at
all. Also, there was thin fog clear down to the river. The pilot
did some remarkable flying up that river. Suddenly, we saw the
end of the runaway which was black asphalt through the fog ahead.
We hit that runway, braking as soon as possible. When we stepped
out of the plane, the fog was so thick we could scarcely see
fifteen feet. We spent the night at Umiat and returned to Barrow
the next morning.
that flight, I had a wonderful view of the midnight sun. We
had left Point Lay at 11:30 at night. The sun was still several
degrees above the horizon. As we flew east, it dipped toward
the horizon, but, because we were flying at 2000 feet, it was
still high. It dipped toward the horizon and then started to
rise again. By the time we turned south, it was rising at a
had another close call when I caught a ride into Barter Island,
where we had another C&GS party working. Barter Island is
thirty minutes flight east of Point Barrow, and a weekly supply
plane of the Air Force made a flight to Barter Island from Fairbanks,
stopping first at Barrow. As we approached Barter Island, there
is a cliff which parallels the beach and the line of the cliffs
is aligned exactly with the air strip at Barter Island. The
pilot was accustomed to lining up with the cliff below him to
make his approach to the runway. It is very often socked in
at Barter, but usually he could land with that approach, because
he could get his drift in that manner. On the date I was with
him, the low clouds were so bad that he made six passes before
he dared to set down. After the sixth, he said the next would
be his last as he had only enough gas to get back to Fairbanks.
Well, he made it on the seventh pass, but when we landed it
was hard to see how he did it as we could scarcely see 200 feet
on the ground. He had been making those trips into Barter Island
for two years and often in that manner. Yet in his trip the
very next week, he struck a building near the runway and cracked
up. Everyone aboard the plane was killed. It could very well
have happened on the trip I made with him.
airstrip at Fairbanks has a hill nearly 200 feet high just off
one end of the runway. On one trip in an Air Force C-47, the
pilot struck the hill with his wheels and bounced up, and, as
he landed, he must have bounced up an and down six times before
coming to a stop. Thereafter, I carefully avoided flying with
of my flights were on chartered "bush" planes. As a rule, they
were amphibians with both wheels and floats although nearly
all landings were on rivers. The most famous bush pilot in Alaska
was Sig Wein, a pioneer in the business. I chartered him to
make a flight east from Nome to check some hills for possible
triangulation station sites. He regaled me with tales of the
early days of flying in Alaska. All of those early flights were
made with float planes, and the pilots took many chances.
Wein owned the roadhouse. Private rooms were few in roadhouses,
and the usual type of accommodations consisted of large bunking
areas with two or three level bunks and no privacy. My room
even had a chemical toilet. Sig Wein would not charge me for
the room because I had chartered his plane. One entire wall
of the dining room was decorated with broken propellers, mementos
of various wrecks he had had. We flew over a small strip where
he described how he often tried to land and at the last second
would have to zoom upward to avoid a moose.
is a tiny Eskimo village about forty miles north of Nome. The
only whites living there are the postmistress and her husband
who runs a small general store. While I was there a dead killer
whale was beached by the Eskimos. There was great excitement
at the event. The Eskimos went out in "umiaks" which are the
large family skin boats to tow it to shore and cut it up. That
whale would provide meat for their dogs for the entire winter.
The postmistress made souvenirs by casting the reindeer lichen
in plastic for use as paperweights and I purchased one.
Nome in that year, it was said that one could still make moderate
daily wages panning the beach sand for gold. If that was the
case then, in 1979 with gold valued at $350 per ounce it no
doubt is a booming industry. Even then, they had begun to establish
a system of steam pipes under the sand on shore to thaw the
sand for working.
interesting flight was out to Nunivak Id. which is a large island
northwest of Kuskokwim Bay. The government maintains a large
herd of reindeer on the island. It also has a slaughterhouse
where the reindeer are butchered annually. Reindeer meat is
sold in Seattle, and it is also sold to the Chicago, Milwaukee,
and Puget Sound R.R. where it is featured in their diners. I
have eaten it on the Milwaukee.
it was necessary to go to Air Force Headquarters at Anchorage
to try to get transportation to Naknek, a post at the head of
Bristol Bay. I asked to see the Commanding General, and, to
my surprise, was immediately ushered into the office of General
Hutchinson, my old base CO at McDill Field who had resented
me greatly. He received me like a long lost friend. When I explained
my mission and showed him my orders, he assured me that I could
have any help he could provide. When I requested transportation
to Naknek Id., he called the operations officer and ordered
him to provide me with special planes whenever I asked for them.
In that case, I was provided with a C-47 and crew to make the
trip. The pilots and crew were delighted to go, as they had
not visited that area. They asked if I could like to get a closer
look at Mt. Iliamna, an active volcano which was near our course.
We circled the volcano and had a good look at the crater. At
Naknek, they were most hospitable as it was a lonely post with
few visitors. They tried to get me to stay over one or two days
and do some fishing. They promised huge trout over eighteen
inches long. The plane crew wanted to stay. They said the trout
could be caught as fast as one threw in the line.
one occasion, I had to go to Ft. Yukon on the north bank of
the Yukon River. It was supposed to be a regular commercial
run, and the pilot said he would pick me up to go back to Fairbanks
the next day. There is a roadhouse there with double deck bunks
along one wall. There is no privacy of any kind. The landlady
was most hospitable. She and her husband had the only private
room. There was a scientist from Harvard staying there and I
enjoyed talking to him. He had just found a large mammoth tusk
sticking out from the river bank which the current had recently
was stuck there for nearly a week due to weather because the
plane could not get in. On the fifth day, two girls who worked
on the base at Fairbanks had flown up from Circle for a look
at Fort Yukon. They said that they had driven up from Fairbanks
and their car was at Circle, and I could ride back with them.
I grabbed the chance, flew back to Circle with them, and had
a comfortable ride down the Yukon Highway with them to Fairbanks.
It was the only trip I made by car during my whole time in Alaska.
forgot to mention one humorous incident which occurred when
I made the trip out of Bethel to Nunivak Island. A government
veterinarian flew with me. As we were standing in front of a
souvenir shop in Bethel, two tourists, who appeared to be old
maids, were examining what appeared to be a cane made of ivory
at the shop. The veterinarian was obviously standing there waiting
for them to ask him what it was. Finally, they did and he said,
"Madam, that is the penis of a walrus.", which it was.
that flight to Nunivak Id., the veterinarian excitedly pointed
out two of the rare whooping cranes below us in the tundra.
Heretofore whooping cranes were supposed to breed only in the
Northwest Territory in Canada.
give some idea of my itinerary for those 2 1/2 months, I have
taken my itinerary from my final report:
Aniak to McGrath along the Kuskokwin River
McGrath north to Ruby
Koyukuk river, Koyukuk to Bettles
Kobuk River, Kobuk to Kotzebue
Kobuk to Hughes
Umiat to Bettles via Anaktuvak Pass
Bettles to vicinity of Stevens
Fairbanks to vicinity of Stevens
Yukon River, Tanana to Stevens
Yukon Flats, Stevens to Fort Yukon and Circle
Porcupine River, vicinity of Fort Yukon to Canadian Boundary
Steece Highway, Fairbanks to Circle
Yukon River, Tanana to Fort Yukon
Porcupine River, Fort Yukon to Rampart.
was indeed a thorough reconnaissance. There was very little
of Alaska I did not see.
story I might mention was told me by a geologist. He had a headquarters
near Anchorage and had found in an excavation near Anchorage
a baby mammoth in the frozen permafrost. It had apparently never
been thawed since it died, and the meat looked fresh. Just to
say that he had eaten mammoth he actually cooked and ate some.
He called it good to eat.
fact I found interesting was the bakery business of the landlady
who ran the roadhouse at Fort Yukon. Just as the snows started
in the fall, she baked up enormous quantities of bread and sweet
rolls. These were buried in a box in the snow and kept frozen
until sold. She charged $1.00 for a dozen sweet rolls and 75
cents for a loaf of bread. The Indians bought them during the
several years after that stay at Fort Yukon, I received an annual
card at Xmas time called "news from above the Arctic Circle".
at Fairbanks, I was offered a ride in a vehicle called a Penguin
which the Army had for traveling over the tundra. It was supposed
to travel across wet tundra and even through swampy areas. They
bragged about it too much. On my ride, they got stuck in an
area where it had melted too deep, and all it would do was to
dig itself down deeper. I have a picture of me standing on the
top waiting for a second Penguin to come and pull us out.
the post exchange in Anchorage, I bought a fine little basket
with a cover. It was made of woven baleen from a baleen whale.
I thought the price was stiff, but I wanted it and bought it
for $15.00. In 1973, when Marian and I made a trip to Alaska,
I saw some of these little baskets for sale. The price varied
from $150 to $200. There are only two or three Eskimos who still
more episode occurs to me. This happened on the day I arrived
in Alaska. I had brought two bottles of bourbon, which I had
bought in Seattle with me. I first made a stop of one day at
Anchorage. There were some Geological Survey men in Anchorage
whom I was to contact. They came to my room and after a while
I offered them a drink. I opened one of the bottles and we had
a couple of drinks. Then I recorked the bottle and put it in
my luggage. The next morning on the flight to Fairbanks the
reduced pressure in the air caused the cork to pop out of the
bottle. When I entered the BOQ at Fairbanks to go to my room,
heads popped out of all the other rooms sniffing the air. I
had to get everything in my bag laundered to get rid of the
smell of whiskey.
finished my report in the late fall in Washington and was ready
for my next assignment. It is interesting to note that my recommendations
were all received well, and the surveys of Alaska were all completed
on schedule by 1952.
Hiran Geodetic Tie Across the
Atlantic to Canada
the last tests of the Hiran equipment and the issuance of the
final report of the 7th Geodetic Control Squadron at Orlando,
Florida, they considered themselves competent to undertake an
important geodetic connection across the Atlantic to Canada
via the Greenland Ice Cap. Unfortunately they had no competent
geodetic supervision and were unaware of the necessity for controlling
azimuth. In Florida, all measurements were controlled between
adjusted triangulation positions and no such control was required.
on the Ice Cap there was ample opportunity to make such azimuth
observations if an adequate reconnaissance had been made. As
a result, there was a wide azimuth swing on the Canadian end
of the project and the results were useless. It was another
example of the waste of the taxpayer's money through lack of
fundamental knowledge by the armed services.
Hiran Conference at Orlando, Florida
the European-Canadian Hiran tie was in progress, a large conference
was held in Orlando, Florida, under the auspices of the Armed
Services. The subject matter was to discuss a possible location
of a guided missile range and a method of surveying it. The
first consideration had been the Sea of Cortez or the Gulf of
Lower California. This idea was vetoed by the Mexican Government
which did not fancy the idea of missiles flying over their country.
idea being considered was to locate the range from Florida in
a southwesterly direction via the West Indies, the Windward,
and the Leeward Islands. The British and the French had agreed
to this, and the remaining question was as to the accuracy of
the Hiran method.
reply was that the accuracy obtained thus far was inadequate,
but that we were fully aware of the necessary steps to be taken
to assure the final accuracy. Had I been aware of the crude
results of the Atlantic tie I would have been less assured.
However, I definitely specified that adequate supervision of
the project by a competent geodesist was a positive necessity.
a result of that conference, Patrick Air Force Base at Cocoa
Beach, Florida, was chosen as the headquarters of the Missile
Range with the launching site to be located at Cape Canavaral.
Assignment to the Joint
Long Range Proving Ground at Cocoa, Florida
March, 1950 I received orders to report to the Joint Long Range
Proving Ground at Cocoa, Florida. The assignment was for one
month's temporary duty. Apparently, that was the result of my
insistence on the need for adequate geodetic supervision. In
one month I was supposed to teach the military all I knew about
geodesy. The upshot of the matter was that after one month my
duty was extended to a second month and at the end of that time
to a third month. By then they had become aware of the need
for a geodesist and my assignment was made permanent.
decision had been made to base the Hiran Group at Ramey Air
Force Base in northwest Puerto Rico. It was a good decision
for that base was central to the area to be surveyed. I was
pleased at the choice of Col. William Hunkapillar to be the
Commanding Officer of the Group. Bill was a good friend who
appreciated the need for my assistance. As far as I am aware,
he was the only man assigned to an Air Force Group who was not
base at Patrick did not remain a "Joint Long Range Proving Ground"
for long. Because of the constant jealousy between the Air Force,
Navy, and the Army, it was not long before it became an "Air
Force Guided Missile Range". The officers of the other services
remained but they were "advisers".
Reconnaissance for the Missile
my arrival at Patrick Air Force Base, I found it in a deplorable
condition. Previously a Navy Base, it had been abandoned for
a long time. Some of the barracks were very soon renovated,
and the remainder of the repairs were begun. The former Officer's
Club had the roof caved in, and, while that was being repaired,
the Officer's mess and sleeping facilities were held in the
VOQ (Visiting Officer's Quarters).
of the time required for the Hiran Group to become established
at Ramey Air Force Base, I had adequate time to make a reconnaissance
for the survey through the islands and decided to make the reconnaissance
personally. The reconnaissance required the selection of the
station sites and obtaining the permission of the heads of government
on each island. An explanation of the reasons for the survey
had to be given. Also, there were certain conditions to be fulfilled
for the best reflecting conditions for the Hiran ray path. It
was a project I felt I could not trust to flying personnel.
Early Work at Launching Site on Grand Bahama
the reconnaissance period for the Missile range, the launching
site on the northeastern part of Grand Bahama was being prepared.
During that time a number of interesting incidents occurred.
one occasion, I had some business at the site. This was before
the landing field at the site had been built, and we had to
land at the old strip at the southwest end of Grand Bahama where
I was met by a truck. Shortly after we left West End, we came
upon a small group of Bahamians on the road who asked for a
ride. We obliged, and they climbed into the back of the truck
and chattered merrily as they rode north for over fifteen miles.
Finally, they asked to get off, and we stopped for the purpose.
Inasmuch as there was no settlement near where we stopped, I
asked them where they were going to walk to. Their answer surprised
me. They had just wanted a ride and were going to walk back.
It was the first ride in a motor vehicle that they had ever
triangulation survey of the Bahama Islands was required, and
I had arranged for a U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey Party
to be sent down to do that work. During the reconnaissance,
it was necessary for some of the men to clear an area of low
brush. Unfortunately, they did not know that that low brush
was poison oak, a close relative of poison ivy, and several
of the men were hospitalized for some time with a virulent rash.
another occasion, it became necessary for me to confer with
the chief hydrographer of a U.S. Navy hydrographic ship which
was doing some surveying off the east coast of Grand Bahama.
We flew to the landing field at West End, Grand Bahama, and
enroute sent the Navy ship a radio message that I was arriving
at West End. Shortly, we received a message that I would be
picked up at West End by helicopter and taken out to the ship.
They did so, and we flew out to the ship landing on their helipad.
This was a new experience for me, and I enjoyed it. Our conference
was that evening and I remained on the ship for the night, returning
to West End in the morning. As we approached the field, we noted
a large group of Bahamian natives near the landing field and
the pilot said, "Watch me surprise them!" Whereupon he swooped
down as if to land, but, just before touching down, he came
to an abrupt stop in the air and then backed up for about 200
feet. By that time the Bahamians had become familiar enough
with flying to think that all aircraft had to maintain a forward
flying speed, and it was inconceivable to them that an aircraft
could actually fly backwards. It took some time for them to
get over their excitement as they screamed, leaped into the
air, and waved their arms in their exuberance.
to the airborne reconnaissance, I established the sites for
the first stations by traveling to them in a small sub-chaser
which had been assigned to Patrick Air Force base and which
was manned by Air Force personnel. We selected a number of the
earlier stations in this manner and not without some difficulty.
We first visited Great Abaco, and then selected a site for a
station on Little San Salvador Island near the northwest end
of Eleuthera Island. As I went ashore there, I saw a Helmet
Shell (Cassis madagarensis) on the rocks. It had been dragged
there by an octopus which was trying to consume the mollusk.
An octopus poisons its victim, but so far the poison had not
taken effect, and the octopus was suffering many cuts and abrasions
on its arms from the radula of the helmet shell. The shell was
in good condition, and I rescued it from the octopus only to
clean it out to place in my collection.
we left Little San Salvador, a severe northwest gale developed,
and we had to take shelter. The only safe harbor was at Eleuthera
in Rock Sound. I went ashore there for several days while the
gale raged. The only place to stay was at the exclusive Rock
Sound Club, where, even in those days, the cost was $17 per
day. My per diem being only $7 per day, I was out of pocket
$10 for every day I remained there. When I filed my income tax,
I deducted the extra cost with an explanation which was accepted
by the IRS without question.
gale began again as we left Eleuthera, and that little sub-chaser
could only run before the wind, so we headed southeast. We tried
to anchor at the south end of Cat Island, but it was too deep
close to shore and the holding bottom was poor. While attempting
to anchor, I scanned the terrain on the south end of Cat Island
with binoculars and selected a tentative station site which
later proved to be the final location on the island for the
the gale continuing, we again ran before the wind in a southeasterly
direction finally ending up on the south side of Rum Cay. There
we attempted to enter a small bay, but found it too shoal and
had to go back out to anchor. I then went ashore and hiked across
the island to the north shore, a distance of about eight miles.
The trail was rugged, the day was extremely hot, and we had
no water to drink. Fortunately, we ran across a native who climbed
a coconut palm and threw down several coconuts from which we
slaked our thirst with its refreshing milk.
across the island I ran across a number of Cerion shells, a
land shell with which I was quite familiar, but these were quite
different from any I had ever seen. I later learned the reason.
When Dr. Bartsch of the Division of Malachology had visited
the Bahamas to study mollusks, he had carried Cerions from island
to island to see if they would cross-breed. In fact they had
done so, thereby creating a number of new sub-species much to
the confusion of other scientists who did not agree with interference
with the natural selection process.
next morning the gale had abated, and, as we had selected a
Rum Key station site at the northwest corner of the island,
we took the little ship around the island. It was necessary
to anchor some distance from shore, and we had a great deal
of heavy equipment to land on the island. We contemplated a
two day stay while we boated and rafted the gear ashore, but
we got unexpected help. There were few natives living on the
island, but nearly all of them must have come down to share
in the excitement. I obtained plenty of assistance with a display
of black magic. I had recently obtained a new pair of dentures,
and I would pass my hand in front of my face and palm the plates
and then grin at them with a toothless grin. Another magic pass
and I would smile at them with a full set of teeth. I do not
believe any of them had ever seen false teeth, and they first
looked amazed and then whooped in excitement. They kept calling
others over to see the magic. Possibly due to the entertainment
they pitched in to help us, and we completed two days work in
about three hours. They obviously expected no compensation,
but we delighted them by giving them a goodly portion of our
canned goods stock which clearly satisfied them.
was one drawback to that camp site which I was able to solve
because of my experience in the Philippines. We were informed
by the natives who assisted us that the nearest source of fresh
water was a well two miles east of our campsite. However, I
remembered that in the Philippines the Moros living on the small
islands always had a sufficiency of pure water and learned that
they were able to dig wells in the coral formed limestone within
a short distance from the edge of the sea. I therefore selected
a low spot back of the dunes in an abandoned corn field where
I estimated we could strike water with a minimum amount of digging
and instructed the boys to dig a well. It was not easy digging
in that hard coral formed limestone, but at a depth of six feet
the water flowed in as if from a spring. It was clear pure water,
which had been filtered through the limestone, as all the salt
had been filtered out by the limestone. During all the time
Station Rum was occupied, there was a plentiful supply of water
for the camp.
final station of that sea reconnaissance was Watling's Island,
usually shown with the name San Salvador in parenthesis because
that was the name given to it by Columbus. That was the first
landfall of Columbus when he discovered America. A tall tree
still stands on the eastern shore where legend says that Columbus
made his small boats fast when he went ashore. It makes a good
story, but I am somewhat skeptical as to the authenticity. However,
a tablet marks the spot and tells the story.
the air reconnaissance, I was assigned a Grumman Goose, an amphibian
aircraft smaller than a PBY but larger than the Grumman Duck.
spent one month flying from island to island. After I explained
the mission to the ranking man on each island, we usually received
preliminary arrangements had no doubt been expedited by a call
we had made to the Governor General of the British Islands in
Jamaica at an earlier date when I was accompanied by the British
liaison officer at Patrick. We had been welcomed at the Governor
General's residence where we had stayed over night, had had
dinner and cocktails there, and a hearty breakfast served in
our rooms on a terrace the following morning. The wife of the
Governor was most charming, and I had long conversations with
her. For dinner we had a mixed grill which included kidneys
which I detest. Before realizing they were kidneys, I took some
and ate them manfully.
French were also cooperative, but we encountered trouble with
the Venezuelans which I shall explain later.
places I visited included the following: Panama where we contacted
the Inter-American Geodetic Survey; Venezuela at Caracas; Trinidad;
Tobago; Barbados; St. Vincent; Grenada; Martinique; Guadaloupe;
St. Kitts; Grand Turk; Nassau; New Providence; Haiti; Cuba;
Santo Domingo City in the Dominican Republic; Grand Bahama,
Great Stirrup Key, Cat Island, Andros Id., Eleuthera Id., and
Rum Key in the Bahama Islands; St. Thomas in the Virgin Ids.;
and Puerto Rico.
reason for going to Venezuela was to obtain permission to include
Aves Id. (Bird Id.) in our scheme. Aves Id. was a small uninhabited
island southwest of Puerto Rico. A station there improved the
scheme. The only evidence that human beings had ever visited
the island was a small metal Venezuelan flag on a metal pole
in the center of the island which was 1/4 mile long and about
150 meters wide. It was merely a strip of sand a few feet above
leaving Panama to fly east, we still had not received permission
from Venezuela to establish the station or clearance to land.
Therefore, we decided to by-pass the country. However our military
attache at Caracas called us over the radio as we were requesting
clearance to land and told us to land, intimating that clearance
was granted. Inasmuch as he was a full Colonel in the U.S. Army,
the pilot who was a Captain felt obliged to obey, considering
it an order. As we landed we were met by that Colonel and a
Venezuelan Army officer in a jeep and were taken directly to
following morning our Ambassador called a meeting at our embassy
and proceeded to raise hell. He stated that we were "smuggled
into the country." He directed his remarks to me and the Colonel
kept silent. When I had had enough, I broke in and told the
true story. I told him the pilot asked my advice about landing
and I advised against it. I said that the Colonel "ordered us
to land", and then the pilot felt obliged to do so. I also told
him I was not in the military services, but was a Coast &
Geodetic Survey officer who had no authority over the pilot
who was in charge just as the captain of a ship is in complete
charge. The decision to land was solely the responsibility of
the pilot and the military attache.
Ambassador said no more, but the matter did not end there. Apparently
the feelings of the Venezuelans were still injured, and about
four months later a letter arrived at Patrick through channels
from the State enquiring "why I had violated Venezuelan territory".
Once more I described the circumstances, and that was the last
I heard of the matter. I hope the Colonel received a reprimand
for the trouble he had caused.
returning from the reconnaissance, still without permission
to install a station on Aves Id., I made two reconnaissance
sketches, one of which contained Aves Id. and the other without
it. This was forwarded to Venezuela with the comment that we
would omit the island if they did not wish it located but that
evidence existed that the island was far out of position. That
statement later proved to be true, for it eventually was shown
to be about one third mile in error. At any rate the threat
to omit the island was effective, for we promptly received permission
to include it in our scheme.
Barbados we stayed at the best hotel for $7 per day for a fine
room and meals. That rate shortly afterward shot through the
roof. It was spoiled by the oil field workers of Venezuela vacationing
St. Lucia, I stayed at the Hotel Antoine, an attractive hotel
high on a hill with a beautiful view of the harbor. Engaging
in conversation with the landlady, I learned that the bookkeeper
had some shells, and she asked me if I would like to see them.
She called the bookkeeper who was a negress, and she brought
out a shoe box containing some shells which we usually refer
to as "beach trash". However, some were in good condition, and
I saw shells which I recognized as new to me. I put aside about
twenty shells and asked if she wished to sell them and how much
she wanted. She amazed me by asking for 73 cents BWI (for British
West Indies) or about 43 cents in our money. I gave her $5 BWI,
and she tried to give me more shells for my generosity but I
returning to Florida, I found a cone shell about which I was
curious in Johnsonia, a Harvard publication on Malachology.
It was identified there as CONUS dominicanus, Hwass. Johnsonia
contained the statement "Harvard possesses but a single specimen
of this rare cone, originally presented to us by Governor Rawson
of the Bahamas." I had five, all in good condition, which at
that time was the largest collection of that cone shell in the
United States. The National Museum in Washington had one specimen,
badly broken, and the Philadelphia Museum had none. In a publication
which was published later listing shell values, C. dominicanus,
Hwass was listed at $200. Recently more have been found and
the value has depreciated to $15 to $25.
spent one Sunday on Antigua Id. in a nice hotel situated over
a cove. I spent several hours in that cove and found a number
of good specimens which were new to me.
Surveying Teacher's Conference at Black Duck, Minnesota
July and August, 1952, a National Surveying Teacher's Conference
was held at Black Duck in Northern Minnesota. It was held at
Camp Rabideau, a former CWA camp which was now owned by the
University of Illinois. I received an invitation to give a paper
on "ELECTRONICS IN SURVEYING." The Coast and Geodetic Survey
issued orders so that my expenses were paid, and I took leave
to attend the conference. Marian wished to go too, and, of course,
that was at my expense. We both enjoyed the meeting, and Marian
struck up a friendship with a number of the professor's wives.
meeting was attended by engineers from all over the United States
and Canada. My paper was very well received. A frequent comment
was that it was the first time an important physical constant
such as the velocity of light had been measured by a Civil Engineer
instead of a physicist. That seemed to be a matter of pride
was a lake at the camp, and some of the hardy souls decided
to go in swimming. Marian and I were among them. We put our
hands in the water, and at the surface it seemed warm enough.
Six inches down it was like ice water, and, when I dived in,
I think I rose out higher than the wharf. That was enough for
me, but Marian stayed in a trifle longer.
meeting almost ended in tragedy. The camp had a large shower
room and laundry which contained a 1000 gallon boiler which
was fueled by a wood fire.
McNair of Cornell University who was president of the conference
had just arrived at a barracks building adjacent to the boiler
room and had driven his station wagon up to the end door to
take his baggage into the barracks. Several of us were in a
nearby barracks which was to serve as the lecture room when
we heard a loud explosion. We ran to the door and arrived there
just in time to see that boiler, having crashed through the
roof of the boiler room, still rising. As it reached a height
of over 100 feet, it arched toward the end of the barracks where
Prof. McNair had entered. We heard a second crash, and, running
over, we saw that huge boiler resting on top of McNair's station
wagon. Just moments before he and his young son had been in
the car removing the baggage. They escaped death by a matter
the blast occurred, two men who were in that barracks were knocked
down by the force of the blast. Another who was lying on a cot
on the same side as the boiler room found a long piece of wood
driven through the wall of the barracks. The point had missed
his head by inches. It was most remarkable that no one was killed
years after the accident, the University of Illinois compensated
McNair for the loss of his automobile.
Civil Enginnering Conference
in San Juan, Puerto Rico
regional meeting of the American Society of Civil Engineers
was also held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to which I was invited
to give a paper. I flew down by military aircraft. Marian and
Tayloe, her sister, also decided to go, but they travelled commercially.
My plane landed shortly after the commercial flight, so I was
not there to greet them.
commercial passengers landing at San Juan were greeted by a
welcoming committee and offered a daiquiri, made, of course,
with Puerto Rican rum. Marian explained her allergy to citrus
fruit and asked for a small drink of straight rum. As she was
holding it, she saw a bishop clad in his robes approaching and
correctly surmised that he was an Episcopal bishop coming to
greet her and Tayloe. As he reached them she held out her glass
and said, "Bishop, won't you join me?" He replied, "I would
be glad to if I were not in my robes." Just then, my plane landed
and I found the two ladies talking to the bishop. The other
passengers saw an unusual sight as a bishop in his robes and
a chicken colonel served as bell hops, carrying out the baggage
of two ladies to a taxicab.
was not the end of the rum episode. The ladies attending the
meeting were given a tour of the island and one of the places
visited was the Don Q rum distillery. Each lady was proffered
a small souvenir bottle of rum. In the case of Marian and Tayloe,
each received a full fifth of rum. When it was proffered, the
young man said, "You are the best advertisement of rum we have."
they returned to San Juan, Col. Hunkapillar told them that they
would be unable to get their rum out through Customs. However,
Jose Canal, the young Puerto Rican who was social chairman of
the meeting and who had taken Marian and Tayloe on the tour
in his car so they did not have to ride in the tour bus, assured
them that he would escort them to the airport when they departed
and assist them. He also told them to offer the Customs officers
a drink in case they questioned the rum. However, they encountered
no difficulty and departed with their rum.
Colonel Hunkapillar, fearing that they would meet up with difficulty
with Customs, had dispatched two more fifths of Don Q Rum to
Patrick by one of his pilots. When I arrived at our house, they
were found inside the door. Thus, the two ladies ended up with
two full fifths of rum each, instead of one small souvenir bottle.
their two day tour of western Puerto Rico, Marian collected
some shells for me. The shells caused much more difficulty with
Customs officials. When they stopped in Cuba, the Customs officials
almost confiscated the shells. For a number of years, the export
of certain species of shells from Cuba had been banned. The
Customs men, not being conchologists, were not aware that the
shells she had were not among the species banned from export.
The Missile Range Hiran Survey
the completion of the reconnaissance, the Air Force Group in
Puerto Rico began to fly some line crossings. For a number of
lines the results appeared to be good. We made piecemeal least
square adjustments to check the internal consistency, and, although
the results were satisfactory, at the start I noticed that they
had begun to deteriorate. Recognizing that something was wrong,
I took the results to General Richardson and warned him that
sufficient accuracy was not being obtained. I stated that I
believe that the Hiran detachment should return to Florida,
check their results against lines of known length, and investigate
the source of the errors. This stirred up a tremendous storm,
and ten or more officers and men from the group came to Patrick
for a conference. I persisted in demanding a recheck and showed
them the inconsistencies which were very apparent in the computations.
upshot of the matter was that the technical Hiran personnel
and the Hiran aircraft together with the ground stations were
flown back to Florida. Basing on McDill Field, they spent eight
months in the investigation. It was discovered that new and
only partly trained ground station operators had actually changed
some of the circuitry in the receivers. Each station was overhauled.
Then the distances over fifteen geodetic lines between triangulation
stations were carefully measured with the standardized equipment
and the results agreed well with the geodetic distances. After
that eight months of instrument refinement and retraining, the
personnel returned to Puerto Rico and thereafter no difficulty
was encountered. My insistence on the investigation had been
now, I had published many papers and had given many talks. My
papers had appeared in TRANSACTIONS, AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION;
THE MILITARY ENGINEER; PHOTOGRAMMETRIC ENGINEERING, as well
as accounts in many newspapers throughout the United States
and Canada. Two notices had appeared in NATURE, the prestigious
British publication for notices of new discoveries. I had requests
for numerous reprints from editors, scientists, and writers
including Waldamar Kaemfort, the science editor for the New
York Times. TIME magazine published an account of the new velocity
of light I had obtained and headlined it, "HAIRLINE REVOLUTION".
This annoyed me, for the discovery of a 1/20,000 error in the
speed of light was by no means a small error. Three inches to
the mile may have seemed small to the lay writer of TIME, but,
had that error not been confirmed, it would have necessitated
continual correction during the moon shots.
clipping bureau, in an attempt to have me subscribe to their
service, sent me a lot of clippings from newspapers and magazines.
many of which I did not know existed.
also started receiving letters from "kooks". One in particular
was so weird that I still have it in my files. It was published
by an organization which called itself, "THE INSTITUTE OF MAN".
In an accompanying letter from the president of the organization
were enclosed copies of letters which had been sent to Admiral
Karo, C&GS, President Kennedy, and to Louis Carmichael of
the Smithsonian Institute. Through some weird reasoning, they
had "proved" that the Greek mathematicians, to escape persecution,
had fled to this continent via England, Iceland, and Greenland.
They were supposed to be the ancestors of the mound builders
in the United States and of the Aztecs and Incas and the founders
of those cultures. Because of much similar correspondence, I
started a "NUT" file which was a good source of amusement.
scientists from foreign countries wrote to me. I received letters
from Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France, England
and Sweden. I had extensive correspondence with Bergstrand in
Sweden who had invented the Geodimeter for measuring distance
with infra-red light; with Essen in England who had measured
velocity using a cavity resonator; and with Froome in England
who used a microwave interferometer. They were all pleased to
see their results confirmed by yet another method.
many requests for talks poured in, that I was forced to decline
most of them.
of my papers attracted much attention. It was published in the
MILITARY ENGINEER and was entitled, "USE OF SHORAN TO DETECT
SURVEYING ERROR". As previously stated, the Hiran personnel,
in rechecking their instruments in Florida, had flown a total
of fifteen distances between known positions of geodetic stations.
To one of those stations in Florida near Key West, there were
five measured distances from established stations. The lines
measured to that station were inconsistent with all the other
lines. Upon investigation, I learned that that station mark
had been reset from a reference mark. I made a least square
adjustment of the network, and, as a result, I stuck out my
neck a mile. I had predicted that the mark was reset in error.
I predicted that the error would be .0067 statute miles (35.4
feet) in azimuth 39 degrees 45'.
station was reestablished by the Coast & Geodetic Survey
and the actual error was found to be .0069 miles, in azimuth
37 degrees. In other words, basing my prediction on 5 Hiran
distances which varied from 86 to 320 miles in length, I had
predicted the position error of that station within two feet.
John A. O'Keefe, Research and Analysis Branch of the Army Map
Services, had a published comment on one of my papers which
appeared in Civil Engineering which probably had a great deal
of influence in causing my velocity measurement to gain recognition.
He stated, "THE SIGNAL STRENGTH ERROR WAS DISCOVERED WHILE EVERYONE
BELIEVED IN THE ANDERSON VALUE OF THE SPEED OF LIGHT. THE AUTHOR
COURAGEOUSLY INSERTED THIS CORRECTION IN THE CALCULATIONS EVEN
THOUGH IT MADE ALL THE CHECKS WITH GROUND STATIONS WORSE AND
REDUCED THE APPARENT ERROR TO 1/20,000.
HE REAPED THE REWARD FOR HIS COURAGE WHEN HE MADE THE DISCREPANCY
THE BASIS FOR A NEW VALUE FOR THE VELOCITY OF LIGHT....HOW MANY
OTHERS SINCE 1930 HAVE SEEN EVIDENCE THAT THIS VALUE WAS TOO
SMALL AND HAVE BEEN AFRAID TO SAY SO."
Exeptional Service Medal of the Department of Commerce
1952 I was notified that I had been awarded the Exceptional
Service Medal of the Department of Commerce. The medal is the
equivalent of the Distinguished Service Medal of the Armed Services.
At an impressive ceremony in the Department of Commerce auditorium
in Washington, the presentation took place. The medal and accompanying
certificate were presented by the Secretary of Commerce.
the face of the certificate which accompanied the gold medal,
the citation read:
MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN THE MEASUREMENT
OF DISTANCES BY ELECTRONIC METHODS."
letter accompanying the citation contained the following:
COMMANDER ASLAKSON HAS PROMOTED THE ACCURATE MEASUREMENT OF
LONG DISTANCES BY ELECTRONIC MEANS, AND DEVISED METHODS AND
PROCEDURES FOR AIRBORNE SHORAN DETERMINATIONS TO ATTAIN GEODETIC
ACCURACY. HE DEVELOPED METHODS OF COMPUTATION FOR SHORAN TRILATERATION
AND HAS STUDIED AND DONE EXTENSIVE RESEARCH ON REQUIREMENTS
TO INSURE MAXIMUM ACCURACY ON SHORAN DETERMINATIONS. HIS STUDIES
INVOLVED A NEW DETERMINATION OF THE PHYSICAL CONSTANT FOR THE
VELOCITY OF LIGHT.
HE HAD WRITTEN AND PUBLISHED NUMEROUS ARTICLES ON LONG DISTANCE
BY ELECTRONIC METHODS WHICH HAVE ATTRACTED INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION.
Azuza System of Tracking Missiles
new system for tracking missiles had been designed for the Air
Force and it was installed at Cape Canaveral. Known as the Azuza
system for the California City where it was developed, it was
considered to be the last word in tracking accuracy. To measure
the distance by the accurate radar involved differential readings
from four radars installed at points at the ends of a cross,
the distance between the radars being 50 meters.
fact, the choice of distance was very poor. To measure and retain
the extremely high relative accuracy required for distances
of that length is nearly impossible owing to temperature changes
and small seismic movements. When I asked the Air Force scientists
why those distances were chosen in the design, the reply was,
"Because it would be easy to measure." When I explained that
had the distance chosen been 800 meters instead of 50 meters,
it might have been possible to obtain and retain the necessary
relative accuracy. They were astounded. By that time, it was
too late to change the design of the instrument.
felt it necessary to prove my point and arrange for the Coast
Survey to send a detachment to Canaveral to make the measurements.
Commander Phillips was in charge, and he spent almost six months
measuring and remeasuring those distances and correlating the
measurements with temperatures and other data. In the end, his
work proved my point. Once more the Air Force wasted millions
on a useless piece of equipment.
work on that investigation was handled so well that he received
an assignment of a similar nature in England. In the end, he
acquired a fine reputation for careful studies of that nature,
and he was awarded the Exceptional Service Medal for the following
Failure of the Early
Inertial Guidance Systems
of the early dreams of the Air Force was the use of inertial
guidance which was thought to be the ultimate in accuracy for
guiding missiles to targets over long distances. The System
was based on the assumption that the direction of gravity
could be accurately computed an any give latitude and altitude
on the earth's surface or above it. What the Air Force did not
know was that the direction of gravity or the plumb line
varies from the theoretical value due to the irregular distribution
of masses in the crust of the earth. These irregularities or
deflection of the vertical are sufficient to cause considerable
inaccuracy on guidance systems relying solely on inertial guidance,
inasmuch as they vary irregularly over the earth as well as
more, I sought a means of proving my point. I arranged to have
astronomic parties come to the range and observe positions at
many of the Hiran station sites. In addition, I found a method
of determining the geodetic position of former astronomic stations
by a photographic method in which Hiran was also used. I called
this method the SCP (Shoran Control Point) method which I shall
these data, I made a determination of the deflection of the
vertical or the deviation of the plumb line at each station.
Then by means of a least squares computation, I was able to
draw contours of the geoidal undulations of the sea level surface
of the earth over a wide area in the Bahama Islands.
computation proved my point conclusively. A range mathematician,
Dr. Ted George, a good friend of mine, used my computations
at a staff meeting and convinced the local scientists that reliance
solely on inertial guidance for missiles was fruitless because
the values of the deflection of the vertical were not known
with sufficient accuracy at a given altitude and latitude to
be fed into a computer.
paper on this subject was published in Transactions, American
Geophysical Union in February, 1953. At a later date, I made
a much more extensive investigation in a report I wrote for
Aero Service Corporation of Philadelphia.
SCP Method of Establishing Geodetic Control
the progress of the Hiran survey of the range, the Air Force
also made a photogrammetric survey of the islands. Additional
control, other than the limited number of geodetic positions
established at the ground station site, was required to control
the photography. This gave me an opportunity to investigate
a new method of establishing geodetic control in areas where
a lower accuracy could be utilized.
called the method I devised the SCP, for Shoran Control Point
consisted in flying over a point on the ground in four directions
in the form of a cross with the camera and the shoran recorder
operating at "runaway speed". Thus, there would be Hiran distances
for each photograph. The point being photographed could be a
house, a prominent rock, a sharp point of land, a lone tree
or any object recognizable in all the photos. Then, the assumption
that the camera was properly plumbed at the time the picture
was taken allowed me to make a least squares computation of
the Hiran coordinates of the point to minimize the accidental
errors of the failure of the camera to be level when the exposure
was made. The distances from the principal point of each picture
to the point chosen to be located was scaled and used in the
SCP method was extremely successful and was used extensively
later by Aero Service in the desert of Saudi Arabia and in the
Peten jungle area in Guatamala. I published a paper on the method
in Transactions, A.G.U. When the cost of conventional control
is prohibitive, the SCP method proved to be very useful.
1954 IUGG Conference in Rome, Italy
the Autumn of 1954, I received notification that I had been
selected by the National Research Council to be a delegate to
the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) meeting
at Rome, Italy. These are triennial meetings, I was most happy
to accept the honor. My travel expenses were to be paid by the
also wished to go. Her expenses naturally were paid by me. Not
having had a vacation in years, and, feeling that I could be
spared for that short length of time, I decided to attend.
transportation to Europe was on the S.S. UNITED STATES, the
beautiful ship of the United States Lines. My appointment arrived
late and in one way that was fortunate for all the cabin class
reservations in which the other delegates were traveling were
taken. Thus, I was assigned to a first class state room. It
was a large outside room with a huge bathroom, two large clothes
closets, a very large stateroom with two huge double beds.
first class had one drawback. The first class passengers were
very stuffy. One couple felt as we did and often sought our
company. He was a wealthy oil tycoon from Texas and his wife
was charming. We often had cocktails in their room before dinner.
For many years we heard from them at Xmas time until his wife
died a few years ago.
passenger, His Royal Highness, the Maharajah of Gaikwar of Baroda,
also complained of the stuffy passengers. He told us he won
the deck tennis tournament. However, it was by default. No one
a few occasions, we sneaked down to the cabin class area to
visit our friends. We could not often do this, for the practice
was supposed to be forbidden.
the trip to Europe the sea was very smooth and the passage was
fast. We reached Southampton, England, in four days. While in
England, I visited the National Physical Laboratory to call
on Essen and Froome with whom I had had considerable correspondence.
We were happy to meet personally.
Hoskinson and Captain Roberts were also in London at the same
time, as they were also delegates to the Rome meeting. One evening,
the three couples were strolling about on Picadilly Square when
a lady of the night approached me and was quite frank in asking
for an appointment. I was slightly ahead of the others, and
our wives were back of us looking in a shop window. I told the
young lady she would have to request permission from my wife
who was the smaller of three ladies. She passed by, and Elliot,
who is somewhat a babe in the woods, said, "You spoke to her!"
He did not understand what it was all about.
Holland - the Flower Auction - The
the channel, we first visited Holland stopping in Delft where
I made some calls. Our room in the hotel in Delft was comfortable
and quaint. The commode and wash basin were of beautiful Delft
pottery. I am sure that by now some wealthy American had bought
those fixtures and is using them as flower containers.
day we were entertained at lunch by Dr. Roeleofs and his wife
at a fine Dutch restaurant. Being unable to read the menu, Dr.
Roeleofs interpreted for us. When he came to herring as an appetizer,
we both assumed that it was smoked herring and said we liked
it. When it arrived it was raw, but we swallowed it manfully
as if we ate it every day. Later we saw people buying raw herring
in the street stalls, having it scaled, and swallowing it like
a stick of candy.
left Delft for by automobile. Enroute our driver asked us if
we wished to see the flower auction which was enroute. Of course
we agreed, and we spent an interesting half hour at the auction.
buyers were seated in a gallery of sloping seats in front of
a stage on which carts filled with different kinds of flowers
were carried. At each buyers seat, there was a key which he
could press. On the stage there was a large clocklike device
with a single hand. Prices were shown on the dial with the hand
starting to move at the higher prices. As the auction of each
kind of flower began, the hand moved rapidly from the high price
toward the low. At the moment when a buyer was willing to pay
the price, he pressed the button at his side. That stopped the
clock, registered the price, and the type of flower. Everything
proceeded at a rapid rate. The buyers were from many parts of
the world, many from New York. We were told that almost as soon
as a day's auction was over the flowers went out by air.
then drove on to and arrived at our hotel. Immediately upon
entering, the desk clerk said, "You do not have time to register!
Register when you return!" When I asked, "Return from where,"
he replied, "Didn't you come here for the Flower Festival."
That was our first news of that event, but, of course, we went.
Seats had already been reserved in the grand-stand by our hotel,
and they were good ones.
event is an annual event, and we were lucky to arrive in time
to see it. The pageant took place in the former Olympic Stadium
with a huge and beautifully costumed cast. Both the semicircular
ends of the stadium were a great mosaic of live flowers. We
were lucky to be seated next to a Hollander who spoke perfect
English, and he interpreted each event for us.
the event was about 3/4ths over, a drenching downpour and thunder
storm began. We were under cover, but the poor participants
continued as if the sun was shining although they were drenched
to the skin. Just as the pageant ended, the rain stopped. We
departed to get a taxi to our hotel but could not find one as
we were repeatedly shouldered aside for the few taxis available.
Suddenly, I also realized that we did not even know the name
of our hotel. At last we decided to try a street car as the
crowd began to thin. Boarding one, I took out some change and
held out my hand to the conductor. He selected the fare, I pocketed
the rest and we headed toward what I hoped was the center of
arrived at what I recognized as the railroad station which I
remembered we had passed in our car as we entered . Grabbing
Marian by the arm, we left the street car and hailed a taxi.
I still did not remember the name of our hotel, but I pointed
in the general direction. Shortly, I recognized our hotel which
was not far away, and we got out. As I paid off our cab, I could
tell from the look on the driver's face that he was thinking,
"Just some more of those crazy Americans!"
Munich, Germany - Furstenfeldbruk Air Field
made some official calls the following morning and we departed
by train for Munich, Germany. The headquarters of our Air Weather
Service was located at Furstenfeldbruk Field near Munich. Aware
that we were arriving, our friends, Colonel and Mrs. Suggs whom
we had known at Patrick, had urged us to visit them. Ralph Suggs
was in charge of the U.S. Weather Service in Germany. We arrived
on Sept. 5th and found that the Suggs had planned several fine
trips for us. Unfortunately, just at that time General Moorman
whom I had known in the Pentagon in Washington when I was in
the Weather Service arrived to inspect the weather stations,
and many of those plans had to be canceled to entertain the
we had one lovely trip to Obergammergau where the Passion Play
is staged. We were taken backstage and shown the costumes worn
by the players. The mountain scenery on the drive was lovely.
another evening, we went into Munich for drinks in the hall
where Hitler staged his "putsch." Marian also had a trip into
Munich one afternoon with Gladys Suggs and she found a most
interesting silver wedding cup at an antique shop which she
left Munich on September 11th, having had a fine visit. We drove
there with our hosts, and it was a very beautiful drive. Enroute
we passed through a short stretch of Austria, so we can say
we have been in that country.
spent two days in Zurich, and on the second day we took a long
drive through the beautiful countryside to Lake Lucerne where
we lunched and returned. Enroute we began to understand why
countries avoid war with Switzerland. Far up in the mountains,
there are manmade caves in which artillery is concealed which
commands all the roads. The caves are obviously impregnable
start their military training as young boys, and all able- bodied
Swiss belong to the Army Reserve. They keep their arms and uniforms
at their homes and can be mobilized at a moment's notice. The
rifle training starts when the boys are very young. Our driver
in his quaint way said, "Today is the shooting of the boys."
In other words, they were firing on the rifle range.
we were in Zurich, they still maintained those quaint enclosures
of convenience where a man could attend to the call of nature
on certain street corners or parks. It was surrounded by a wooden
enclosure, and one could see the man's head above it and his
feet below. It was not unusual for a man to ask his lady friend
to wait while he entered. It seemed that it was unfair to the
fair sex as there was no provision for women.
IUGG Meeting in Rome in 1954
September 13th we departed for Rome by train. Those wonderful
Swiss trains are so well run it makes us regret that we (the
Unions and the Government) have let our trains deteriorate as
was a great pleasure to me to find that news of my work with
Hiran measurements had reached all the countries of Europe.
Daily I was buttoned by delegates from many countries to enquire
about Hiran. The fact that it had been sufficiently accurate
to detect the velocity error was what seemed to impress them
more, I was approached by Virgil Kauffman, the president and
principle owner of Aero Service with regard to joining his company.
He told me that they had purchased some shoran equipment and
already had some contracts for shoran controlled photogrammetry.
I assured him that I was interested, but my services were needed
at Patrick for at least six more months.
location of the conference was in an elaborate group of buildings
which had been built by Mussellini for International meetings
of that nature. Long sessions were held daily, but, as is common
in such meetings, the personal contact and exchange of views
between the participants outside of the regular sessions were
Entertainment for the Ladies
was an excellent schedule of entertainment for the ladies. Marian
took in all the tours, and, as usual, with her close attention
to detail, she was always near the front. If I wished to locate
her, it was simple. She was never more than one meter from the
guide, notebook and pencil in hand.
buses were available for the tours. The guide in each bus spoke
a different language to accommodate the wives of the delegates
from different countries. The guide for the English speaking
group was a University professor and was very knowledgeable.
As a result, many of the ladies from other countries who understood
English crowded onto that bus, and it was always full.
one occasion, the good guide was not available. Instead, an
Italian woman, who gave every indication of being a Communist
and showing a dislike for Americans, kept remarking, "You Americans
send all your criminals like that Lucky Luciano over here."
Marian waited patiently for some of the more senior ladies to
speak up, and, when no one did, she could tolerate it no longer.
She interrupted and said, "That is enough of that! We sent Luciano
home! He was an Italian, illegally in our country, and we deported
him!" Lady Bullard, the wife of Sir Bullard, an English delegate
came over to Marian and said, "Good for you! I wondered why
some of the Americans didn't speak up."
visiting St. Peter's, it was interesting to note the Catholics
bowing before the bronze statue of St. Peter and kissing the
toe which was highly polished from that attention. Some, however,
seemed to feel it was more sanitary to put their forefinger
on the toe and then kiss their forefinger. The good guide provided
some information which was apparently not common knowledge.
He informed the ladies that the statue was actually a statue
of Jupiter which the Catholics had installed in St. Peter's
and renamed it St. Peter, ignoring the fact that it was of Roman
one weekend tour, no papers were scheduled, and I accompanied
it. We visited the ancient Roman port of Ostia and later Anzio
Beach, the site of the tragic landing in World War II. Ostia
is no longer a port. Due to the uplift of the land over the
centuries, it is several miles inland. There is a small museum
there, and, as we approached it, I saw some land shells clinging
to some weeds. They interested me more than the artifacts, and
I collected several species, placing them in a plastic rain
coat cover which I put in a plastic brief case provided for
we left Ostia for Anzio Beach, I was seated next to Mrs. Ross,
the wife of a Canadian delegate. She turned to me and said,
"Captain, did you lose something?" Holding up her hand, she
showed one of my snails clinging to the back of her hand. Then
she pointed to the ceiling of the bus, and I saw dozens of my
snails crawling over the ceiling. They had crawled out of the
brief case which had been placed on the baggage rack. As we
bounced down the rough road, I spent the next twenty minutes
picking my snails off the ceiling and putting them back in the
plastic cover which I then secured more carefully. I collected
more shells at Anzio Beach, but they were beach specimens and
episode was always brought up at future IUGG meetings which
I attended and was always a source of merriment. I never lived
leaving Italy, we flew to Spain and spent a short time there.
In Madrid we stayed in a hotel which apparently was familiar
with the dining hours of Americans, for they served meals at
one evening we dined at a fashionable restaurant. We arrived
at 9 PM, and the place had just opened and was devoid of other
finished our meal about 10:30, and a few dinner guests were
just arriving. Again we ate out at a small excellent restaurant
near the hotel. After we ordered, the waiter returned to the
table and placed a small U.S. Flag in the center. Glancing around
the room we noted that many of the tables had flags from other
countries. Apparently, the waiters made a practice of guessing
the nationalities of the different guests.
ordered arroz con pollo or rice with chicken. When the dish
arrived, the plate was surrounded by some small clams with attractive
patterns. They were new to me, and I asked the waiter to take
them to the kitchen, wash them, and bring them back wrapped
up. At the moment he seemed puzzled, but when I explained that
I was a shell collector he beamed. He was also a collector and
understood. He shortly brought back my shells well cleaned and
Madrid, we hired a car and drove to Portugal. After some sightseeing
in Lisbon, we drove west to the resort town of Estoril. We walked
through the grounds of the casino there, and I collected some
more land shells on the casino grounds.
continued west, stopping briefly at the ancient Moorish town
of Sintra. The town contains the palace of the old Moorish kings
and is maintained in good condition exactly as it was in the
days of the Moors. We were particularly interested in the enormous
kitchen which occupied a room which must have been close to
eighty feet long. In the center was an enormous conical fireplace
where the food was cooked.
collecting some more land shells near Sintra, we drove on westward
to the extreme westernmost point of Europe. There was a restaurant
there and we ate lunch. We then returned to Lisbon.
did some shopping in Lisbon, and I purchased some charms for
Marian's gold charm bracelet. The gold work in Portugal must
be eighteen carat by law and is therefore often quite soft.
Care must be taken at times to reinforce the wires which hold
charms, or they might be lost. Marian also bought a flower tray
about a foot long which was made in blue pottery similar to
Delft. It had the figure of a mermaid riding a sea horse, and
the tray itself was in the form of a stylized scallop. All we
now have left is a photograph of that tray. We kept it on a
table near our front door. One day an American primitive picture
hanging above it fell down and broke it into hundreds of pieces.
Marian liked it because she has a thing about mermaids, and
the base was a shell so it seemed appropriate.
Paris and the Hotel
France et Choseul
next flew to Paris where we spent a few days before returning
to the United States. We stayed at a quaint hotel called the
France et Choiseul. We did not think much of the place, but
later on the ship we learned that the "in" crowd considered
it chic and many stay there. It was very old, and the rooms
on the floors above the ground surrounded an open courtyard.
It was originally built before the days of private baths, but
now the rooms all have them. They converted bedrooms to bathrooms,
and thus the bathroom is at least as large as the bedroom. It
had all the fixtures of all European baths including the bidet.
That appliance came in handy for me. It was a most convenient
place for cleaning shells.
ate at a restaurant where there were a number of different shells
in the window. I ordered a number of each type and confounded
the waitress by asking her to wrap them up instead of eating
we checked out to take the train for Cherbourg, the concierge
told us there would be some delay. Apparently we had to hold
up our cab while they rounded up all the entire hotel staff.
Practically the entire staff appeared at the door with our baggage.
There was not enough bags for all of them, so in some cases
more than one of them had hold of a single suitcase. Among those
at the door were maids, busboys, waiters, and even kitchen help.
Most of them we had never even seen, but they were all holding
out their hands for tips. I solved the problem by handing the
concierge a few bills and telling him to spread them around
as he saw fit. Apparently the "in" crowd which had stayed there
had spoiled them.
we were in Paris, a recent law prohibiting the blowing of car
horns in the central part of the city had just been passed.
In lieu of blowing the horns, drivers let their left hand hang
out of the car door. Instead of blowing their horns, they banged
on the car door. I think horn blowing would have made less noise.
Again We Sail on the SS UNITED STATES
Cherbourg we took the train ferry to Southampton, England, where
we boarded the SS UNITED STATES once more.
smooth trip across the Atlantic did not prepare us for the return
trip. We had thought that a huge ship such as the UNITED STATES
would have little roll and pitch, but we learned differently.
The weather was very heavy on our return, and we pitched, rolled,
and tossed like any other vessel.
furniture in the lounge had been bolted down to the floor, but
at least some of the chairs were not secured. One afternoon,
one lady who was sitting in a chair skidded forty feet across
the lounge, striking a grand piano, and breaking several ribs.
We later learned that we passed through part of Hurricane Hazel.
having learned what caused her allergies, was no longer subject
to what before she had thought was seasickness. I had always
been a good sailor, and we didn't miss any meals in the dining
room, although frequently there were few there when we were.
In fact, on one occasion our table steward almost lost his breakfast
when Marian ordered herring.
of the exotic dishes on the menu was "bird's nest soup". In
Borneo I had seen huge baskets of the nests on the wharf waiting
to be shipped and had noted they were full of feathers and other
foreign matter. Therefore I had always refrained from it in
the Philippines. Besides, it was too expensive for my purse
in those days. That was a long time before, and this voyage
I permitted myself to forget the feathers. We both ordered it
and found it to be a tasty and delicate broth.
had been seated at the table of the Chief Engineer. He was also
a fourstriper and was most congenial. He took me on a tour of
the engine room, and that huge power plant was well worth seeing.
in New York and clearing Customs, we took the train for Patrick
Air Force Base and once more I got back into the harness.
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