About bailing out from Chicken Charlie ...by Elmer Bukey
I was a member of the 396th ASS and the plane was transferred to our outfit for some major repairs, Lt.Sines was our test pilot and we were to test flight the plane and deliver a Chinese General and a Chinese Col. to Chickiang at the same time.
About twenty minutes out of Kwelin we lost all radio contact with the ground and even our compass failed to work.
The weather had really socked in after we had taken off end we had no visual contact with the ground... in other words we were lost.
We flew for about an hour deciding what to do about our situation and decided to try and let down thru the soup.
Bad decision. We let down between two mountain peaks and did a 180 and got back up on top of the soup. We knew then our only choice was to bail out. After I popped the hatch the General froze halfway out. I jumped on his back and forced him out and we had no problem with the Col.
Murton our radio man went next and I followed him. Then Sines left the plan after me. We had a lot of problems after we bailed but thats a long story..so here goes...
After I jumped I remember looking back and seeing Murtons chute disappearing into the overcast and I saw Lt.Sines chute open just as I went into the overcast.
Although it was dark there was a full moon and after I fell through the overcast it was still light enough to see the ground below. When I looked up at my chute I almost passed out because I looked right thru where three panels had diappeared. The chute was not nice and full the way it should be but was egg shaped and looked as if it would collapse at any second. Needless to say I did a lot of praying on the way down.
I think the only reason I didn't break both legs when I hit the ground was because I did not realize how fast I was falling and when I hit the ground I was completely relaxed. We found out later that the general had fallen clear thru the overcast before he opened his chute.
The colonel had his chute with him when the Chinese found him and he told them about the other guys on the plane.
Sines had a forty five in a shoulder holster and when his chute opened he busted three ribs.
Murton landed on the edge of a stream and sprained an ankle.
When I got together with Sines a Murton I had a chance to look at my chute. I don't know what held the chute together until I got down because every seam in that chute looked like a runner in a silk stocking.
We hooked up with Gen. & Col. the next day and I was able to see where the CHICKEN plowed into a mountain side just in back of a small Chinese village.
There wasn't much left of the plane. With the two Chinese officers with us we received a royal welcome at each little village we came to.
We walked for five days and rode a train for two days back to Kweilin.
The good news is I am alive to talk about it.