Bumped: Find a new comment from a Grandson of the designer.
Here are some crops of another never-before-seen (or published) photograph that are presented in honor of the Centennial of Naval Aviation (Copyright Mine 2011)
The photo was taken by my Grandfather in 1925 in Hawaii while in port with his ship, the USS Langley. It had the simple caption “Navy Seaplane PN-9” in his Langley ‘Memories’ album. Note the evidence of repair on the upper wing
The ‘tail’ number was clearly visible, so I performed a quick search on the internet, and was surprised to find it was quite a famous AND one-of-a-kind seaplane.
The crew had been given up as lost after an extensive search. Rodgers and the rest of the PN-9 crew were able to monitor the radio without being able to transmit their location the entire time. They listened in as the searchers first coordinated their efforts and then decided to call off the search. They were ‘frustrated’ to say the least as they listened as the search unfolded. The Langley and the crew were part of the search effort. When Rodgers and his crew overheard that it was the opinion of the Langley’s aviators that the PN-9 and crew were ‘lost’… I imagine that made Rodgers and crew a little bit ‘more’ than just frustrated.
Rodgers’ navigation skills and the ability to ‘sail’ the seaplane using the fabric removed from the lower wings as sails brought them within a few miles of landfall when they were finally seen by a US submarine. They were towed past treacherous shoals and received a hero’s welcome both in Hawaii and eventually back on the mainland.
This same plane was apparently used to make another long distance flight attempt, and again forced to set down in the water (Caribbean) with its crew adrift. Again, it was found and the crew rescued but this time, it was seen as too risky to tow to safety and was sunk in place as a hazard to navigation. An unlucky, yet weirdly lucky bird if there ever was one.
A 1925 ‘Flight’ article here.