The longest single-engine flight by a multi-engine aircraft in aviation history
Background info from the squadron history page: During a deployment movement to Kodiak in February 1954, one of VP-6's aircraft was credited with the longest single-engine flight by a multi-engine aircraft in aviation history. The incident occurred in the squadron's number three aircraft piloted by LTJG Combs and LTJG Schultz. Three minutes prior to reaching ocean station November, midway between Hawaii and Alameda, the number one engine caught fire. The fire was extinguished but the engine was secured. The flight continued on toward Alameda, still a distance of 1200 miles. Just west of the coast the starboard engine began to run rough under the heavy strain, but LTJG Combs was able to execute an emergency landing at Half Moon Bay, 25 miles south of San Francisco. Several months later an official report of this flight appeared in Naval Aviation News.
I was just a 19 year old kid and it was one hell of a ride. We deep-sixed everything that wasn't needed to stay airborne. I was asleep at the time, but when that engine blew, it was one hell of bang. It got everyone's attention. I was the ordnanceman on the crew. I remember we were about 400 miles from the coast when our good engine sputtered a few times and I thought we were going to end up ditching. But the PPC LTJG R. E. Combs got everything straightened out. He was a great pilot. We could not get the altitude to land at NAS Alameda so that's why we landed at Half Moon Bay. Minus everything we owned, all at the bottom of the sea.
Crew 10, BE-10, Pilot LTJG R.E. Combs, Co Pilot D.H. Schulz, Navigators, Ens A.B. Lumley & Ens J.P. Beretta, PC R.A. Mellor AD2, 2nd Mech. D.S. Bryant ADAN, Radio W.R. Murray AT2, Tech B.C. Martin AT3 & Tech D.J. Lambrecht ATAN, Ord. N.H. Gallagher AOAN & Passenger E.A. "Pat" Garrett AD1.
From my perspective as radio operator Crew 8, I remember the events of the trans-Pac. very well. Before the flight, we (all the flight crews, and selected passengers) mustered at the VP-6 hangar for good-byes and photographs. We departed as a squadron, I think all 12 BE's. Our first leg, up to the mid-point, was flown in the dark. I guess so we could arrive at Alameda in daylight. I remember all was well in BE-8; not much to do, lots of voice and not too much CW. About mid-point at the oceanship on station, Mr. Combs (PPC crew 10) had to secure one of his two engines. The nice calm flight changed. I remember lots of radio traffic and plans for a PBM to fly out for escort duty. We (crew 8) flew along with BE-10. I remarked to Mr. Claude that crew 10 should deep-six all the removable equipment. If memory serves me correctly, they even dumped the electric stove (proved to be a poor choice as there were no spares in stock.) We flew on to Alameda, then Whidbey, then on to Kodiak. We were all relieved when we got the word that BE-10 made it into Half Moon Bay.
John A Sullivan