It was April 2, 1942 during World War II a Pan Am Boeing 4 engined seaplane, NC 18604 was prepared at the Pan Am base at North Beach, Jamaica, Long Island, NY for a secret flight to transport General Marshall with his aides to England to confer with General Eisenhower.
Preparation for this historic flight started with a two hour test flight and over Long Island Sound. On the 3rd of April the seaplane was flown to Baltimore, and on the 4th to Bermuda. An engine change was required immediately with our flight engineers overseeing the change. On the 5th a test flight was made. On the 7th, General Marshall and his aides boarded. The plane had been refueled with 3000 extra fuel over its maximum gross weight: for the nonstop flight to Lough Erne, Scotland. The flight time was 231 hours. Two full flight crews were on board commanded by Chief Pilot Harold Gray and supernumerary Capt. McCullogh. Captain Gray made a smooth takeoff and leveled the plant at 100 feet. The airspeed was set at the maximum L/D, lift over dray; at approximately 110 knots, as I remember it. As fuel was expended the plane lost weight and climbed slowly to the final cruise altitude of 8000 ft. having considered the wind component. Soon after takeoff Captain Gray turned the controls over to me. So I held closely the airspeed and heading allowing the slow climb to cruise altitude. Captain Gray complimented me and "made my day". A watch schedule was set up for the two full crews. After 21 hours in flight, we touched down on the lake at Lough Erne, Scotland.
While General Marshall and his aides were in London, Capt. Gray conducted a training flight for our junior pilots. On the 14th we flew the plane to Stranraer for the longer takeoff required for the nonstop flight to New York. On the 18th with General Marshall and aides aboard NC 18604 we left for New York. Due to headwinds the flight time was 24 hours and 16 minutes. Mission accomplished!
Captain R. Emery Wanless