Boeing 307 Recovery

Images taken Friday, March 29, 2002, of the recovery of the Boeing 307 Stratoliner, the only of its kind in existence - which made a forced ditching in Elliott Bay, just west of downtown Seattle, WA on the previous day.  All four aboard escaped unharmed and undampened; the 307 didn't fair quite so well.

Reports are that during a test flight, the 307 had taken off from a stop at Paine Field, north of Seattle and suffered a power surge in one engine.  This abated, but as the 307 approached Boeing Field, it lost number 3 engine, then the others started losing power.  The pilot realized he wasn't going to make BFI, and quickly assessing that 1) he had a very valuable bird in his care, and 2) there was not a square inch of undeveloped, unpopulated, or even flat ground within miles, expertly put the 307 down yards from shore.  The cause of the engine failure has not yet been determined.

Boeing folks, many of whom had spent six years doing a beautiful restoration job on this unique aircraft, are optimistic that she will fly again...

Update - June 12, 2002...  Reliable sources tell me that the restoration team has the go ahead to restore Clipper Flying Cloud to airworthiness.  She could be back in the sky where she belongs by summer 2003!

Each image links to a larger version.
 

Already hooked up to the cradle when I got there, she still sits where she was dragged closer to shore the day before, in about 20 feet of water.  Not much further offshore, the water deepens to several hundred feet...
 Boeing has a long connection to Seattle.  I would dearly love to have not had the opportunity for this shot.
Slowly lifted to allow water to drain.
Almost out of the water, the landing gear were ripped off in the ditching.
Some damage can be seen on the lower fuselage.
 She flies again, with a little help...
Wider shot, with the crane rig and the barge (left) used to park her for the short trip to pier 105, where she started her de-salting bath.
Quite a bit more damage on the right wing - the 307 hit the water slightly right wing down.  The wing-fuselage fairing has been torn away.
Lowering her on to the styrofoam and mattresses - this part was quite unnerving, as the crane and barge were each rocking in fairly active swell, and not to the same beat...
Closer view of the severely damaged No. 4 engine and prop.  Ow...
Ruffled but still proud - takes more than a belly flop to count out this old girl!


On a better day last year, I got these pictures of Clipper Flying Cloud
as she flew over Arlington Airport, Washington.

With a little luck, and a lot more work from the good folks at Boeing,
she'll return to her rightful place in the skies.


Seattle Photographer Ken Slusher has produced a fascinating video of the recovery of the 307 from Elliot Bay.  'This video compresses a 12 hour work day into 12 minutes of video and music as this national treasure is pulled out of the water and placed on a barge for transport back to Boeing Field for a second restoration.'

The video and Ken's excellent photography can be found at Ken's web site - Open Mondays

Back