Treharne - Floods viewed from plane
VIEWS FLOOD DEVASTATION FROM PLANE Kirk Simpson Thumbs Ride On Fortress To See Havoc Wrought By KIRKE L. SIMPSON CHICAGO, May 26.— (/P) —A thousand miles of watery desolation desolation in the flood-stricken American American midlands unrolled under t>; startled eyes of the crew and'pas- sengers of an Army Flying Fortress Fortress which made a non-stop flight up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers rivers from Memphis to Chicago between between dawn and 9 a. m. Hovering close above the surface surface of the flood, never more than j j 1.000 feet aloft and often down to j j 50, the big four-engined ship fol- j lowed every twisf of the rain glutted glutted stream. She covered twice the i 500-odd mile crow flight distance j between Memphis and Chicago in : her winding course, soaring above i a veritable inland sea dotted with flood-bound cities, towns and vit- | lages, and hundreds of farm build- ings standing second story or eave j deep in the flood waters. The Fortress, piloted by Capt. Spencer Treharne, was on a routine routine training flight from her home base at Hendricks Field, Fla. She carried half a dozen young air I force pilots and a group of Wash- 'inglon newsmen who had thumbed i their way aboard with Army sanction sanction to survey the flood areas. I Taking off from Boiling Field at i 1 a. m. yesterday, the big ship j swung up above the overcast for a j 10.000-foot level dash to Memphis. JShe got there ahead of time and j until the light grew strong enough j to -see the flood scene below, Cap- j tain Treharne kept her soaring lover the sleepiirg city, its ordered J street lights showing sometimes j like a drop curtain against the | plane windows as she banked. i Before the first rays" of sun j broke through the haze, the bomber bomber leveled away close dow^ to the brown surface of the river. It was rolling with majestic calm there, still well within its grass grown levee ramparts that guard the lowlands. lowlands. Memphis was far to the rear before before the first real desolation appeared. appeared. The plane banked steeply around a river bend and a terrifying terrifying scene appeared ahead. As far as the eye could see the flood had the valley land in its ! grip. Villages, town homes, rail! rail! roads, highways all were submerg- |ed in the seemingly placid brown | sea. Only the roofs shov>ed or the (upper windows. Telephone poles with wire laden cross trees marched marched half their length deep to indicate indicate lost roads. Spidery bridges that led nowhere nowhere at either end but into the water stood intact and lonely. The gaunt steel towers of high power electric lines stretched across the water in meaningless rows. Aboard were men familiar with every village village and cross roads in the flooded terrain, but they could identify nothing with any'certainty. Here and there a smoke plume rose from a house on higher i ground to tell of human presence. I But for mile after mile through the flooded farmland nil the way to St. Louis, on to Cairo and then up the Illinois to Chicago, there was only loneliness and the quiet yet relent- lless waters. Here and there cattle 'clustered bn some tiny island still I inches above the flood level. Stalled Stalled freight trains, sometimes with only the lops of the box cars visible, visible, stood on their submerged tracks. , Above Peoria as the bomber swung away from the Mississippi to follow the Illinois to Chicago, there was not nuich y /lood damage, but endless fields sodden and gutted gutted with erosion by days and nights of rain. A brisk tail wind jostled and bounced the Fortress on her way, shaking up her passengers passengers but adding to her speed. And at 9 a. m. she eased gently down to end a flight from the Potomac Potomac to the lake shore metropolis that covered a full thousand miles of flooded terrain in a matter almost almost of minutes.