Chicago Tribune, June 30, 1929
THE GREAT CIRCLE ROUTE over which The Tribune proposes to send its giant plane, the ‘Untin’ Bowler, on a circle flight from Chicago to Berlin and back. Weather permitting, the start will he made this morning off the lake front at Jackson boulevard. The first stop will be at Milwaukee. Stretch a piece of string across a map of the world from Chicago to Berlin and it will give you the general course of The Tribune flight. After the short hop to Milwaukee, the ‘Untin’ Bowler will fly some 500 miles directly to Cochrane. Ont., take gas and hop off again for Rupert House, 200 miles away. The next jump is to Cape Chidley, Labrador, 800 miles. The route from here to Mt. Evans is the only major deviation in the course. The route swerves northward to Cape Walsingham, on Baffin Island, and from there directly to Mt. Evans, something over 600 miles. The next hop, to Reykjavik, is 1,000 miles. From here the route lies across 900 miles of water to Bergen, Norway. In case of emergency the plane will be able to land at the Faroe or Shetland Islands. From Bergen starts the last leg of the flight. about 700 miles to Berlin. This proposed route from Chicago to Berlin totals 4,786 miles. If the return flight seems feasible the Bowler will hop from Berlin to Warsaw, to Copenhagen, to Stockholm, to Bergen, and back over the original route.
THE TRIBUNE FLYERS. Bob Gast and Parker D. (“Shorty”) Cramer, and Robert Wood, aviation editor of The Tribune. who will make the flight to write the travel story of the voyage. Gast and Cramer, pilot and co-pilot. will alternate at the controls of the ‘Untin’ Bowler. Gast started flying with the Royal Flying corps during the war. Cramer, with Bert Hassell, last year attempted to reach Stockholm from Rockford. Both are former department of commerce officials.1
Bob Gast in the cockpit of the ‘Untin’ Bowler.
ON THE TAKE-OFF – Here the ‘Untin’ Bowler, The Trihune flying’ boat, is shown sweeping down the runway while her twin Wasp motors kick up a dust storm behind. Gast and Cramer pin their faith to those motors, for if one cuts out the other will carry them to safety.
WATER OR LAND, it makes no difference to The Tribune Sikorsky amphibion.2 She alights on both. Here she is shown pushing through the quiet lake water off Oak street beach. In her flight to Berlin the Bowler will make use of lakes, rivers, harbors, and fiords as landine: places. If necessary the plane will be able. to negotiate a landing on the ice, the bottom surface of her boat acting as a sled.
ON TOP OF THE WORLD-The course of the Tribune plane crosses Davis Strait and Greenland not far from the North Pole. For a distance of some 900 miles the Bowler will fly along the Arctic Circle and over the frozen wastes of Greenland.
Chicago Tribune, June 23, 1929
Chicago Tribune, July 7, 1929
INTO THE MORNING SKY, above Chicago’s front yard, the ‘Untin’ Bowler climbed last Wednesday morning in a take-off as thrilling as it was perfect, and the great adventure of the flight to Berlin and back was on. Cameras clicked here as the Tribune plane swung over the Field museum, soaring and circling above the crowds that gathered to wish the big amphibion godspeed.
LEFT: THE PATHFINDERS face the camera on the ramp at the foot of Eighth street just before the hop of the Bowler. Left to right, Bob Gast and Parker (Shorty) Cramer, copilots of the plane, and Robert Wood, aviation editor of The Tribune and the historian of the flight.
RIGHT: POISED FOR FLIGHT Crowds of early risers, though apprised only the evening before of the hour of the flight, surround the sky prowler at the scene of the hop.
LEFT: ROLLING FROM THE RAMP and pushing her nose into the lake, the Bowler takes amphibian leave of home.
RIGHT: THEY’RE OFF: A close-up of the Bowler, shot from another plane, as she shook off the water of Chicago’s lake front and headed north.
Chicago Tribune, July 12, 1929
The harbor at Port Burwell, Labrador, lies the west side of Cape Chidley and slightly to the south of the cape’s extreme end. It is open to the south and the west, and the southwest wind yesterday morning was driving thousands of tons of floating ice shoreward and piling it up on the little inlet in which the ‘Untin’ Bowler had been anchored.
Close inshore, according to the report sent in Chicago, the ice was solid. It was feared the pressure of the floating bergs would break through this, if the wind continued from the same direction, and crush the big plane. Six Eskimos, the radio operators and the mounted policemen from Port Burwell guarded the Bowler through yesterday and the preceding night and succeeded in preventing any damage except a small hole in the cabin. The wind was blowing toward the center of the barometric depression near the Greenland coast.
Chicago Tribune, July 15, 1929
By ROBERT WOOD,
Aviation Editor of The Chicago Tribune
PORT BURWELL, July 14.—The Chicago TrIbune plane’s flight from Chicago’ to Berlin ended last night when the ‘Untin’ Bowler, caught in an ice floe, was swept to sea. by a galea and sank amidst the ice of Hudson Straits. . There was no one aboard.
The sinking of the Bowler ended a five-day battle to save the big twin-motored Sikorsky flying boat from the elements.
Twenty times it had miraculously escaped destruction since the plane landed here last Tuesday. Every man in this little settlement, the mounted police, radio operators, the personnel of the Hudson’s Bay Company and a score of natives worked with the crew day and night, watching the plane, keeping it pushed from the rocks and fending off the relentless, crushing ice of Ungara Bay. An hour before the Bowler went down it had appeared that it was at last in comparative safety.
On Friday evening, Robert Gast taxied the damaged plane into a gorge closer to the settlement, hoping to escape the tremendous flow of ice which had battered the plane in the fjord where it had been anchored. The water was frozen from shore to shore and for a distance of a half-mile up the gorge. The anchor was hooked firmly into the ice, a hundred feet from shore, at a safe distance from the rocks. Three ropes were lashed to the anchor, one to the nose of the ship, and the other two to the wings to hold it steady against the ice.
Stiff Wind Cracks the Ice.
When the tide turned at 8 o’clock in the evening we returned to the machine shop of the radio station to repair the damaged fittings which had been broken by ice in the evening. The barometer dropped and the wind set in.
At 9:30 an Eskimo came running over the hills. He had been sent by Corporal McInnes of the Mounted Police, who had been watching the plane, to tell us that the winds had cracked the solid ice. When we arrived at the point where the Bowler had been anchored, the ship was already in midstream and on its way to the open water.
Its nose was in the air and its tail half submerged. A huge chunk of ice had broken from the middle of the stream and was drifting swiftly before the wind with the Bowler lashed to the forward ledge.
Had Corporal McInnes and the natives been on the ice at the time it broke away, they would have blown to sea with the ship. A half dozen persons had been on the ice all day, working in the plane.
The force of the ice had pushed hull of the ship upward and the taol downward. One wing settled into the water. Water filled the cabin and the tail sank slowly; although it was not until the Bowler had floated two miles out into the sea that it disappeared. Air compartments in the hull and the hollow wings gave it buoyancy.
Gast, Parker Cramer and the little colony that has fought with us to save the Bowler from destruction, climbed up the rocks to high promontory, overlooking Hudson Straits, and there watched the plane drift toward a gray horizon and finally slip into the sea. It was a disheartening spectacle. Gast was deeply moved.
The Canadian Radio, a Canadian merchant vessel, only last year was caught in a gale in the main harbor here and beached. Before that the Bay Eskimo, a Hudson Bay Company ship, was crushed in the ice of Ungava Bay off Port Burwell. The Eskimos call Cape Chidley “Kilinekk,” the end of the world.
Ice should have been out of the harbors here by the first of July, but the season was late this year.
Circling about through the clouds over the cape last Tuesday morning, Gast and Cramer searched closely for a suitable place to come down. They had no choice. Ice jammed every harbor, inlet and lake on the cape. Only one fjord provided open water of sufficient length for landing. Gast alighted there.
The trouble started almost at once. The tide was turning in from the sea when the Bowler ran ashore. The pilot noted the ice moving swiftly from Hudson Strait, and stayed to watch the ship until he was relieved later in the afternoon. The plane was never unguarded after that.
On Tuesday night Gast cut the ship loose from shore and taxied about in the water, dodging the ice. On Wednesday the Bowler was forced against a jagged rock and a hole was torn in her hull. A great chunk of ice crushed against the side of the ship, bending a tail strut and crumbling a rudder on Thursday, and on Friday, just after these damages were repaired, the ship was shoved on the rocks by an ice jam, tearing away one pontoon, bending a lower wing beam and crumbling the end of that wing. On Saturday the second pontoon was ripped away.
The Bowler went to its grave with both pontoons lashed to the lower wings with rope. A ring strut was snapped in two. The fabric had been ripped from a lower wing. Big rents were torn in the tail surfaces; water filled the hull where it had poured through the hole, and the bracing wires and struts of the plane were pinched. While it would have required several days, the pilots believed it was possible to repair the ship. All the damage was caused by the buffering of the tide and the battering of the ice.
Had Planned Another Refuge.
At the time the ice broke, we were finishing the repair of the fittings for the pontoons in the hope of fastening them on early in the morning. With these repaired, Gast planned to attempt to take off at low tide and fly a mile further inland to Mission, where a small protected body of water offered a possible landing place. A landing there would have been a gamble, but it would have been possible to beach the ship and proceed with repairs. We would have been unable to take off, however, for at least ten days until the ice broke from the end of the cove.
When we returned from watching the Bowler sinking, Mission Cove was entirely clear of ice and we still believe that the route from Chicago to Europe by way of Greenland and Iceland is feasible, but we are convinced that such a route will not become practical until airplanes are able to cope with the severest weather conditions.
Chicago Tribune, July 4, 1929
Chicago Tribune, July 30, 1929
From the thousands of letters received in the ‘Untin’ Bowler3 name contest, the judges have selected that of Mrs. W. Sabath, 3415 West Adams street, as the one best answering the two queries propounded the day after The Tribune’s plane departed on its proposed flight to Berlin. She is awarded the first prize of $100.
The second prize of $50 is given fior the kletter submitted by Cloyd H. Schleiger, 532 West Jackson street, Kokomo, Ind.
2 Questions; Many Answers.
At the start of the flight, The Tribune was overwhelmed by calls of persons desiring to know the meaning if the strange appellation given the path-finding plane. It was then decided to hold the contest. The two questions were:
1. What does the name mean?
2. What was its origin?
A majority of those entering the contest correctly asserted that ‘untin’ bowler was cockney dialect for hunting bowlers, meaning a staff hat of the derby type, worn at hunts in the British Isles. Only a few, comparatively, gave satisfactory explanations of the origin of the application of the term bowler to the hat.
Some attributed it to Henry VIII., confidently asserted to have been the inventor of the hard hunting hat. One gave the name as derived from a much later Englishman, William Bowler, said to have been the maker of the first real ‘untin’ bowler. Among the other explanations were: that the shape of the head resembled that of the older bowling balls, which were not strictly round; that it would roll, or bowl, if it fell from the wearer’s head; and that the word bowler was applied because the stiff hats were first worn in London’s Bow street.
Ten Win $10 Each.
The winners of the ten $10 prizes, additional to those of $100 and $50, are as follows:
A. F. Schmidt, 7112 Ridgeland avenue.
Daniel A. Costigan, 5530 Dorchester avenue.
Everett Wilcox, P. O. Box 2, South Milwaukee, Wis.
C. G. Wilson, 7032 Cregier avenue.
James Murphy, 202 East Court street, Ottumwa, Ia.
David J. Neighbour, 7918 Vernon avenue.
James O’May, Harvard, Ill.
Miss Margaret L. Sheahan, 906 Lakeside place.
Lawrence Freeman, Ohio Northern university, Ada, O.
Mrs. Arthur W. Lindberg, 2354 East 70th street.
The contest closed on July 18 and the judges have since been engaged in sorting and selecting the best replies.
Chicago Tribune, January 1, 1930
By Robert Wood.
Memphis, Tenn., Dec. 31.—The “Arf Pint,” The Tribune’s new flying yacht, stretched its wings and flew south today, a refugee from winter, bound for the summer sunshine of the Gulf coast and Florida. The new year found it 500 miles away from the balmy breezes and straw hats of New Orleans.
The “Arf Pint” is on a leisurely cruise to Miami. Tomorrow it will fly down the Mississippi to New Orleans and on to Pensacola the following day. Later it will hop over to Tampa, to the eastern coast, and down to the winter playground of sun-seekers for a month of flying.
This red and yellow flying boat is a two motored Sikorsky amphibian, a successor to the “‘Untin’ Bowler,” which was destroyed last summer in an attempted flight to Berlin.
Points Way for Others.
Like The Tribune’s automobile and its auto editor, The Tribune’s plane is migrating southward to point the way for others to follow. In a manner of speaking the new ship is ‘Arf and ‘arf—as much at home on water as it is on land. It is an amphibian because The Tribune believes that a land and water craft brings more assurance of safety. It has two motors because an extra motor gives the aerial tourist and ace in the hole if either of the Wasp engines cuts out. That has never happened, however, in the experience of the Bowler or its sister ship.
Radio equipment has been installed as another aid to safety, and today it demonstrated its effectiveness in keeping the pilot informed of the trends in weather.
Radio Operator John McAndrews had the earphones clapped to his head as the ship took off in the haze of the Chicago municipal field at eight o’clock this morning and periodically he received the reports from the weather stations. Every half hour the voice of the weather man could be heard relaying the data on cloud formations, visibility, wind direction and temperature.
Provision for Dark Days.
There wasn’t much chatter on the aerial line for the skies were clear throughout the middle west and the weather was little worry to the airmen. On a muggy day when a change is expected the ear phone of the “‘Arf Pint’s” radio picks up the voices of a half dozen mail pilots in the vicinity asking for more frequent word of the weather.
From Chicago to Urbana the ship’s radio picked up the high buzzing code of the radio beacon which guides the mail planes straight to their destinations over an invisible air path. The signals were lost as the plane passed east of St. Louis where the broadcasting station for the Chicago-St. Louis mail is located.
At Cairo the “Arf Pint” left the snow behind, and farther on Pilot Homer Berry and his heavy flying coat. With Little Egypt well to the stern, the ship crossed the Ohio river and picked up the broad Mississippi, following it down to Memphis.
Rests Beside Memphis.
Little more than six hours after taxiing around a mountain of snow in front of the gray good hangar in Chicago, the big ship landed here near a field where Negroes in short sleeves were loading cotton bales into a rickety wagon.
Memphis boasts one of the most modern airports in the south. Within a twenty minute ride from the center of business the city has developed an airdrone whose improved acreage is greater than that of the Chicago City field.
1 Early in 1929, just before he purchased the ‘Untin’ Bowler, Col. McCormick was approached by a 33-year-old flier, Parker D Cramer. Inspired by the commercial possibilities of a transatlantic air route that covered more land than ocean, Cramer had sworn his life to its development and exploitation. Cramer, almost single-handedly, sought to build his bridge north of the bad weather, and he was well aware that McCormick’s S-38 was the only sea-going aircraft of its day that could make the 500-mile hops to Europe with any appreciable amount of payload. With the popularity of aviators and their exploits at an all-time high after the transatlantic epic of Lindbergh, it seemed only natural to McCormick to combine his own aeronautical passion with that of the public.
2 The ‘Untin’ Bowler and ‘Arf Pint were both Igor Sikorsky’s S-38 amphibians. The S-38 was a nine-seat commercial amphibian powered by two 313kW Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial engines. A sesquiplane wing arrangement was employed and the tail unit was carried on two outriggers running aft from the main wing and braced to the heel of the hull by two struts. McCormick’s S-38 received special modifications for the Colonel’s planned transatlantic run. The cabin accommodations were removed and replaced by three 100-gallon fuel tanks. It was a successful design and many were built for airline use (including Pan American Airways, entering service in October 1938), private use and for the US Navy/USAAC. The type also set several world records for speed and altitude with specific loads. Other Chicago owners included taxi cab (later rental car) mogul John Hertz, and Charles R. Walgreen of drugstore fame.
3 McCormick named two of his several planes as plays on English slang. He once asked a London hatter for a cork derby to ride to hounds in and had been informed that the item he sought was “a ‘untin’ bowler, so if you fall off the ‘orse you won’t ‘urt your ‘ead.”