HONOLULU -- Through a clear, cloud-banked sky, Pan American Airways' China Clipper roared toward Honolulu and the end of the first lap of an 8,000-mile trans-Pacific airmail flight today.
Bearing 100,000 pieces of mail and a crew of seven men on a four-stop flight from Alameda, Calif., to Manila, P.I., the four-motored luxury airliner was 695 miles off Diamond Head and its Pearl Harbor landing base at 7 a.m. (pst) today.
For approximately 15 hours the great ship had sped through the night at an average speed of nearly two miles a minute, despite stiff headwinds over a major part of its route.
The ship took off at 3:46 p.m. (pst) yesterday. It was expected to land about 12 noon (pst) (9:30 a.m. Honolulu time).
So great was the flood of mail from stamp-collectors that two of the ship's crew were forced to remain behind.
Commanded by Capt. Edwin C. Musick, Pan American's No. 1 "million-mile" pilot, the Clipper carried as her crew: First Officer R.O.D. Sullivan, Second Officer George King, First Engineer V.A. Wright, Navigation Officer Frederick A. Noonan, Radio Operator W. Turner Jarboe. Max Webber and Thomas E. Runnels were those left behind.
In addition to the mail and the crew, the ship carried 3,200 gallons of gasoline. The load weighed approximately 17,000 pounds, compared to her 25,000-pound capacity. The craft's gasoline capacity is 4,000 gallons.
The Clipper's immediate destination was Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, 2,410 miles from Alameda. Capt. Musick expected to land there within 17 or 18 hours of the time of the Alameda departure.
Then, in progressive stages, the Clipper will proceed to Midway Island, Wake Island, Guam and the Philippines. Air trails to all but the latter point, where Pan-American has established mid-ocean terminals, have been explored in previous crossings by the China Clipper's smaller predecessor, Pan-American Clipper, the Airways' "flying laboratory."
All of the craft's crew are veterans of previous crossings. Jarboe, Noonan, Sullivan and V.A. Wright were aboard the Pan-American Clipper on its round-trip voyages first to Honolulu, then to Midway, Wake and Guam. Musick captained the first two flights.
Weather conditions, with the exception of the headwind, were ideal. Capt. Musick varied his altitude between 5,000 and 9,500 feet, flying through broken clouds overhanging the sea, and at times obscuring the water. Visibility and ceiling were generally unlimited.
At Honolulu, the Clipper will pick up 14 passengers for the westward hop to Midway and Wake.
She is expected to land on Manila Harbor at 4 p.m. November 29, remaining in the Philippines until December 2 before starting the return trip.
After one or two additional round trip flights between Alameda and Manila, the Clipper will make the complete crossing to China.