One of General MacArthur's Pilots Visits QAM

 

THEN

1943 - Lt. Walter Seidel with C-47 VH-CXE (#2)

NOW

2010 - Walter Seidel in the cockpit of DC-3 VH-ANR (formerly VHCXE #1)
(All images are linked to larger versions)
 
 

On ANZAC Day 2010, Queensland Air Museum was visited by an honoured guest. Walter Seidel was on holiday from the United States but 57 years earlier he flew QAM's DC-3 when he and the aircraft were both assigned to General MacArthur's GHQ. It was indeed a sentimental journey for Walter as he sat in the pilot's seat of an aeroplane which he had flown during the darkest days of the Second World War.

Back in 1999, Walter wrote to QAM describing his experiences with our DC-3:

 

"My military records indicate that I did fly as co-pilot on the original VHCXE DC-3 on March 29, 1943, from Archerfield to Townsville 3.7 hours and Townsville to Archerfield on April 2, 1943, for 4.5 hours. Henry Godman was the pilot. I do not recall who was on board for these flights but do know this aircraft was used to fly Gen. MacArthur. I have a vivid memory of landing at a remote unattended airstrip on the return trip to let off several passengers. The right engine starter was inoperative and there were no maintenance people available. It appeared we might be stranded there for days or longer. The engine was primed, pulled through and turned to just past top-dead-center on, I guess, #1 cylinder. I don't know what type of ignition was used to start, probably a shower of sparks. Anyway, when this was turned on, the engine fired and started.

"I was a pilot on B-24's in the 90th Bomb Group and was shot down on November 15, 1942, and ditched off the New Guinea coast, I spent some time in a hospital at Southport that had been a girl's school. I was reassigned to Hq & Hq Sqdn. 5th Air Force at Archerfield and had just started flying with Col. Godman as co-pilot, replacing Lt. Clinkscales.

"My log also indicated that June 6, 1943, I flew as co-pilot on a C-47A, which was the second VH-CXE, from Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in Melbourne to Archerfield. General MacArthur made many domestic flights in this airplane. On most over-the-water flights, the General would fly on General Kenney's B-17 that had four engines until we got our own B-17 "Bataan", November, 1943.

"I did not fly your VHCXE with General Sutherland but did on numerous occasions on the second VH-CXE. Sutherland was not a rated pilot but liked to take the controls once airborne.

"Col. Henry Godman died several years ago as did our Navigator, Capt. George Markovich.

"I flew with GHQ until July, 1944, when I was assigned to HQ & HQ Sqdn. Far East Air Force. I left active duty March, 1946. I got a degree in Chemical Engineering and spent 35 years in petroleum refining. I have maintained current flying status and own and still fly a Cessna 172.

"I have fond memories of my time spent in Australia."

Walter C. Seidel
Phillipsburg, Kansas
8 October 1999

 

WALTER SEIDEL 1921 - 2011

John Seidel, Walter's son, has advised that his father passed away on 2 February 2011 aged 90. Walter had told his family that sitting in the pilot's seat of his old DC-3, 67 years after he last flew it, was the highlight of his recent trip to Australia. QAM extends its condolences to John and the family.