"Into The Air, Junior Birdmen"

Posted 11/16/03

By Bob Carter

While working the "old terminal" at STL in November 1954, we had a Martin 404 terminate about 3 p.m., which I and another agent were assigned to clean for a later flight. We had more than two hours to do the job, and had just started cleaning when a pilot and a mechanic came on board to inform us, "Either get off, or sit down and buckle up. We’re going on a test flight!" WELL, enough said … we sat down and buckled up! 

The flight lasted only about 25 to 30 minutes, but what they hadn't told us was the Martin was having landing gear problems, and that the test flight would consist of a number of dives, stalls, and relatively tight, high-g turns to the right and left … I’m not even certain that we didn't fly nearly inverted at one point. 

Once safely back on the ground, my buddy and I vowed that if we ever faced that decision again, we would promptly scoot and get our tails off the airplane.

Bob Carter (1954-1986) served in ATO/Baggage Service at STL.

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