"Engines Bad-Jumping Out..."

Captain Toby Hunt had already expended 90 minutes in two missed approach procedures climbing back up to 14,000ft. The 6000 ft. elevation airport in the bowl shaped valley of Kunming, China required constant climbing turns to avoid the rocks and the fully laden C-87 had only Sookerating left as an alternate. Suddenly F/O Wayne Smith called out " Here we go! Stuck governor on number 2!" The C-87 with three engines at full power was barely at 17,000ft, not enough to make it over the pass.

F/E Gerald Toker set the cross-feed valves open to help keep the PW-R1830's running, but minutes later saw the #3 tachometer start to swing wildly as the thirsty engine gasp at the air it was receiving. Ship #675 was now drifting for the hills with a surging #3 engine and #2 stuck at 1950 rpm.

"Don Chutes - Get Ready To Cut The Cargo Ropes!" ordered Captain Hunt. Nav. Wes Witte and Gerald Toker struggled with the cargo door that had jammed as the twisting ship yawed violently from side to side. Radio Operator Bob Hardeman was attempting to break into a casual conversation between Kunming and Yunnanyi when the Yunnanyi beacon went off the air. " Turn On Your DF!" was returned with "Minute..." There wasn't any time to wait.

Captain Hunt gave his order "BAIL OUT!" Hardeman sent his final message "Engines Bad-Jumping Out..." and threw the antenna reel to the "IN" position and headed aft to help the other three with the jammed door. "Anything I can do for you before I go?" asked F/O Smith. " Try to get the escape hatch open before you go, Wayne." F/O Smith did so immediately and went aft in to the swaying tail.

First Hardeman, then Witte and the Toker into the blast of cold night air.  Wayne stood before the open door and looked forward as Toby tried to control the violent swings caused by the now sputtering #3 engine. As he leaped, he shouted upward to the wind "Get Out Toby, for God's sake Get Out!"

No one will ever know why after his 56th crossing of the "Hump", Captain Toby Hunt didn't get out of the stricken C-87. When he ordered his crew to bailout, everyone felt that there were only minutes remaining in order to successfully exit the surge induced swings of the aircraft. In all probability Toby lost a third engine while waiting till his crew was safely out of the aircraft.