In the spring of 1928, Bolling Field pilots answered a desperate cry for help from a crew of German and Irish aviators stranded in the icy tundra of an island in the North Atlantic. The crew and its German low-wing plane, the Bremen, had just completed the first successful east-to-west crossing of the Atlantic, but had flown 1,000 miles off course and were stranded on Greenly Island just off the coast of Labrador. Secretary of War Davison received the plea for assistance from the Junkers Company, the Bremen's manufacturer.
The company believed that its top pilot, Frederick Melcheor, could get the Bremen into the air if he could just get to Greenly Island. Davison promptly summoned Captain Eaker of Bolling Field to meet with the company representative. After checking a map of the area, the captain decided that attempting a landing would be too hazardous because of icy conditions and the only way for Melcheor to reach the aircraft would be to parachute down to it from the Army plane. After Major General Fechet, by then Chief of the Air Corps, was advised of the planned rescue attempt, he decided to personally accompany the airmen on this daredevil mission. The flight crew consisted of Captain Eaker and Melcheor in one Loening amphibian airplane with Lieutenant Quesada of Bolling and General Fechet in another.
They made it without incident to St. John, New Brunswick, but encountered foul weather over the Bay of Fundy and were forced down by a gathering storm. Quesada and the Chief of the Air Corps, their plane stuck in rocks and mud, were forced to dig their way out, but eventually made it to their next refueling stop at Pictou, Nova Scotia, arriving with almost no fuel left. There was no sign at Pictou of Eaker and Melcheor, though they had managed to escape the treacherous bay first. Melcheor soon arrived on foot to report to the other crew members that Eaker had landed, "back in the hills," not far away but on a slope too steep to permit a normal take-off.
The following day, Eaker arrived after having created an earthen mound to essentially "catapult" his plane into the air from the side of the slope. A few days later, the planes were over Greenly Island, which was indeed packed by ice. The crew of the Bremen waved and Melcheor leaped from 500 feet, landing safely. The two Loenings turned for home. They made it without difficulty, though they were forced to land in Portland, Maine, with only a few drops of fuel in their tanks.
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