Saturday, 2 March 2013

Naval Aircraft Factory PN-12

Naval Aircraft Factory PN-12 (I think) some time in the 1920s or 30s, with an unknown group of humans.
Let's take a break (temporarily) from huge Boeing jets - this is a much older print of a much older plane. Discovered in the basement of a junk shop North of Seattle, this 8x10 inch print was in poor shape, and had been folded in several places, wearing through the paper almost to breaking point. What did people do before Photoshop...

This print is entirely uncaptioned. I don't know for certain what type of plane this is, or who the group of people in the foreground are, or where they are, or when the picture was taken. Close examination of the print revealed 'NAVY' written on the tale of this plane (the partial word is just visible behind some of the people in the middle) which gave me a clue, and some image searching of 'US NAVY biplanes' eventually turned up the Naval Aircraft Factory PN.

The Naval Aircraft Factory PN series comprised a number of similar flying boats designed during the 1920s and 30s, the last of which were in service with the American Navy until the late 1930s. In 1925, a PN-9 attempted a non-stop flight between San Francisco to Hawaii, ditching in the sea after 1841 miles, but completing the rest of its journey on the water, after the crew improvised sails from fabric torn from its wings.  

Eventually sailing more than 400 miles, the crew reached Hawaii ten days after leaving San Francisco. I can only assume that the reason the plane came down in the first place was the sheer combined weight of their balls.

According to Wikipedia, the same aeroplane was later lost during another long-distance attempt to reach South America, eventually being 'sunk as a navigation hazard after ditching in the Caribbean Sea'.

The group of people assembled in front of this PN are a mixed bunch of teenagers and adults, at the center of which is a stern older gentleman in what I assume is Navy uniform. A fun day out, I'm sure - whatever the occasion. I wonder how many of them are still alive today?

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