I wanted to share this fascinating story with you all. It’s a piece of history that my grandfather, Richard L. Brown, was involved in. He was the navigator on the flight crew of Pan American 943.
On October 16, 1956, PanAm flight 943 (Sovereign of the Skies) developed engine trouble while flying from Hawaii to San Francisco. Two of the four engines failed and the flight crew had to make an emergency water landing in the Pacific Ocean.
You can watch a short film documenting this incredible ditching and rescue by the PanAm flight crew and the United States Coast Guard ship, the Pontchartrain. It was a successful ditching – all 31 people on board the flight were rescued after the plane hit the water and snapped in half.
My mom saw these photographs and film for the first time just last month. Since my grandparents are no longer living, it is very special to her and our family that these historical images surfaced.
The first two photos are of my grandparents, Richard and Lorraine Brown, taken just after the Pontchartrain returned to land.