McDonough, W. J.
Mail Service Began:
||May 12, 1920
Mail Service Ended:
||June 24, 1920
||College Park, Maryland
||May 19, 1920 - Cleveland,
W. J. McDonough was fired from the Air Mail
Service after crashing a Curtiss R aircraft in June 1920 on
a flight between Cleveland, Ohio and Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
Fellow pilot Frederick Robinson spoke up for
McDonough, arguing in a letter to Chief of Flying James C.
Edgerton that if McDonough was fired because of the crash,
"it seems to me that he received distinctly unfair treatment
as, under the circumstances, the crash was almost unavoidable.
R42 was one of the few ships of its kind which are properly
build up i.e., rigged, so as to be properly balanced fore
and aft when carrying about a 350 pound load. As a result
it was almost impossible to touch 3 points on the ground at
once . . . without the 350 pound load."
McDonough pleaded his own case in a letter he
wrote to Second Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger
on July 23, 1920. "Left Cleveland, Ohio 12:30 pm ferrying
Curtiss R42 to Bellefonte, trailing [airmail pilot Glenn]
Conrad in DH4 #89. I had never flown an "R" before.
. . . Half an hour out of Cleveland we ran into an extremely
violent rainstorm and I went down and landed satisfactorily
at Shenango waited for storm to pass over and took off again.
(Conrad landed later outside Brookville also owing to the
storm.) I kept to the course as far as Brookville, and struck
slightly south to pick up the Tyrone valley railroad into
Bellefonte. As I was flying up the mountain valley from Tyrene,
I encountered another severe storm and being unable to see
the tops of the mountains I steered south again hoping to
clear the storm this was not so and I was forced to descend
in the valley 14 miles south of Tyrone. There was no field
there large enough to land a machine safely in consequently
in effecting a landing I rolled into a fence and tipped up
onto my nose – damage done – landing gear struts,
propeller, left and right bottom wings, and left top wing."
The letters made no difference, and McDonough's
firing was permanent.