In World War II, a year after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a Consolidated B-24D Liberator was on a weather-reporting mission in the Aleutians when the weather it was tracking went from bad to beastly as five separate fronts closed in.
The notorious Aleutian climate had been grounding warplanes more than upper management liked, according to Louis Blau, 93, who co-piloted the bomber that day. So some brass came from Washington intending to get to the bottom of it.
"This general had the idea that the weather was not that bad," Blau recalled by phone from his home in Los Angeles. "I suggested we take him out on the weather ship that morning and just show him what it was like.
"The weather happened to be terrible that day, and we had nothing to do with it."
The base on Adak was socked in tight when the bomber returned from the mission. Pilot John Andrews and co-pilot Blau flew up and down the chain, searching for another place to land.
"We couldn't see anything," Blau said. "All this time the general was standing behind us observing the weather – without comment."
As the plane droned on, the situation became desperate. They were running out of light, fuel and options. They had to put down somewhere.
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