abreast of the Columbia frantically signaling to Chamberlin of the landing gear problem. A subsequent fl ight in the Oreole instructed Chamberlin to land at Mitchel Field (where they knew emergency help waited). What followed was a collaborative eff ort conceived by Chamberlin with help from his mechanic and very young passengers. After dumping all excess weight, Cirisi off ered to hang out the left window of the plane and attempt to pull the strut back into place. Once this eff ort proved futile, Chamberlin realized he would have to land balancing on one strut. He told the young girls not to be frightened but the plane might tip over upon landing. Determining that the lop-sided gear needed added weight for balance, he then instructed Eloyse and Grace to stand behind the gas tank on the side where the good strut remained undamaged. At this point, writes the reporter, “They took the news quite unconcernedly and did as they were told.” While the girl’s family anxiously watched ambulances and fi re trucks arrive for a crash landing, Chamberlin’s skill at the controls held. At touch down, the Columbia taxied 200 feet before the right wing tipped causing a ground loop. Little damage was done to the plane, which Chamberlin later described as due to “a lot of luck.” As for the girls, once lifted out of the plane they shook Chamberlin’s hand and thanked him for the ride. Legal issues prevented Chamberlin’s departure across the Atlantic in May of 1927, and Charles Lindbergh claimed the Orteig prize. Nevertheless, on June 4th, Chamberlin, with Levine as his passenger, made the second oceanic fl ight fl ying 42-hours from New York to Germany. Three years later, renamed the “Maple Leaf,” the same Bellanca with a diff erent crew fl ew from Newfoundland to Italy. The famous plane was destroyed in a fi re before it could be transported to a museum for preservation. As for Chamberlin, he continued his remarkable

career in aviation building aircraft through to WWII and promoting air travel until his death in 1976 at the age of 93. I have not yet found what became of Eloyse Levine or

Grace Jonas but they must have entertained many with the story of their fi rst ride in an airplane.

Giacinta Bradley Koontz is an aviation historian, magazine columnist and author who has received the DAR History Medal and honorable mention from the New York Book Festival. She has appeared on the History Channel and in PBS documentaries.

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