FRANCESCO De PINEDO 
In Canada
The Flight Plan Route and Timeline
OF
SANTA MARIA II
"POST FATA RESURGO"

Page updated January 8, 2020

  • Time: 8 hrs. 10'
  • Distance: 1,320 Km. (820 miles; 712 n.m.)

  • *NOTE*
    The time for each leg, as reported by De Pinedo himself, includes take off and landing maneuvers.

    TUESDAY MAY 17, 1927

    Chicago - Montreal 

    The yellow dot indicates the area of Stoney Point (USA); their first stop to fill up with water from the lake. The blue dot indicates the area of Port Rowan, Ontario, where De Pinedo and his crew stopped to repair the radiator; this was their first stop on Canadian soil.

    Niagara Falls (overflight) - Montreal
    The green dot indicates the location of Kingston, Ontario. 

    TUESDAY MAY 17, 1927
    Chicago - Montreal 

    Leg Time & Distance
     

    8 hrs. 10'
    1,320 Km. (820 miles; 712 n.m.)

    *NOTE*
    The time for each leg, as reported by De Pinedo himself, includes take off and landing maneuvers.

    Departed from the Chicago water front at 6:58 a.m. and proceeded towards Toledo (OHIO) then Vermilion (spotted over Vermilion, 50 miles, 81 Km., west of Cleveland, at 11:26 a.m.) before heading north east, over Niagara Falls, and eventually followed the St. Lawrence river towards Montreal.

    Arrived in Montreal touching down at the Alexandra Basin at 6:30 p.m.

    Word had it that they flew over Kingston at 4:55 p.m. (they circled around the city's dome); Brockville at 5:22; Prescott at 5:28.

    Weather


    Pressure is low from Lake Superior to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and high from Manitoba northward. The weather has been unsettled with showers from Ontario eastward.

    Forecast: moderate winds, fair scattered showers. Temperature reported on the 16th Detroit 50 F. (10 d. Celsius) ; Toronto 54 F. (12 d. Celsius) ; Montreal 46 F. (7 d. Celsius)
    De Pinedo writes that the weather was clear and that the winds were favorable.

    Annotations

    At halfway between Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, water started to leak from the front engine causing the water to boil; they were 120 Km. (75 miles; 65 n.m.) from the lakeshore and @ 1,000 m. (3,280 ft.) of altitude; pumping from the reserve water didn't help much since it kept boiling and in addition the water in the rear engine was also starting to get lower. Slowly they started loosing altitude; the poor visibility didn't help and they could only see the lake once they were very close to it.
    By the time they arrived in the vicinity of the lake they were only at 50 meters (160 feet) above ground.
    They decided to touch down at a place called "Stony Point" to fill up with the water of the lake.
    Later on, in order to fix the engines water leakage, they touched down at Inner Bay near the village of Port Rowan, Long Point (Ontario) - on the north shore of Lake Erie. Therefore Port Rowan became their first touchdown place on Canadian soil, robbing Montreal of the title.
    Both stops delayed their arrival in Montreal by 2.5 hrs.

    On their flight to Montreal the crew had two chickens, cheese, apples, all washed down with port wine (Montreal Gazette).

    In Montreal the crew was greated by the Italian Consul General Chevalier Pio Margotti, representatives of the Italian Community, Harbour Commission, the Royal Canadian Air Force and City of Montreal.

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    1922 Map of Port Rowan Inner Bay - Ontario

    The entrance to the harbour 
    (photo gz)

    Cupola at Kingston City Hall and the market square
    Archives Ontario (1910) 

    Montreal Harbour (1913)

    WEDNESDAY MAY 18, 1927

    MONTREAL - QUEBEC CITY

    The yellow line indicates the area in the vicinity of Tadoussac (On the north shore at the confluence of the Saguenay river with the St. Lawrence) where De Pinedo had to turn back to Quebec City.
    The blue dot indicates Rimouski, where, the next day,  he stopped to get weather information.

    Quebec City Harbour (Baedeker, 1894)
    At the confluence of River St. Charles - St. Lawrence River

    Quebec City Harbour (Baedeker, 1894)
    At the confluence of River St. Charles - St. Lawrence River

    WEDNESDAY MAY 18, 1927
    Montreal - Quebec City

    Leg Time & Distance  
     

    4 hrs. 10'
    Montreal - Tadoussac - Quebec
    650 Km. (403 miles; 350 n.m.)

    Unscheduled stop in Quebec City.

    Departed Montreal at 12:30 p.m.

    The aircraft passed by Quebec City at 1:50 p.m. having for destination Shippegan Bay via Father Point or Metis, cutting inland to the Metapedia river following it to Chaleur Bay.
    But at around 4 o'clock in the afternoon De Pinedo and his crew flew back to Quebec City. Hampered by an east wind, rain and fog they decided to turn back.

    The Santa Maria II landed, in the rain, in the harbour near the mouth of the river St. Charles.

     Weather

    Bad weather in Montreal (fog was lifting but started to rain) and reports of foggy atmospheres (sic) in the St. Lawrence Gulf and lower St. Lawrence River contributed to the postponment of the departure.

    At the time of departure a ray of bright sunlight broke through the clouds and while flying a circle over St. Helen's Island the aircraft passed through the arc of a perfect rainbow.

    Annotations

    The original aircraft S-55 that the crew used to fly from Italy to South America, named "Santa Maria", was accidentally destroyed by fire on April 16 1927 while moored at Roosvelt dam in Arizona.
    The Italian government sent a new S-55, now named "Santa Maria II" to New York from where De Pinedo and his crew continued their somewhat revised tour of the North America.

    The latin inscription painted on the wing below the motor and reads "Post Fata Resurgo" means "After fate the resurrection" signifying that the present aircraft was resurrected after fate had destroyed its predecessor.

    De Pinedo followed the St. Lawrence river at a very low altitude due to the poor visibility; at some point he missed, by miracle, a steel cable crossing from one bank of the river to the other.
    It is still raining when flying by Quebec City; they encounter north/east winds, and continue for 1 hour before the fog gets too thick to continue and so they revert course (in the proximity of Tadoussac) back to Quebec City.

    The crew stayed at the stately Château Frontenac.

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    Quebec City Harbour (undated)
    Château Frontenac left of center

    Tadoussac Hotel (pre 1908)
    Situated at the confluence of the Saguenay ans St. Lauwrence river

    THURSDAY MAY 19, 1927

    Quebec City - Shippegan 

    (Quebec City ->)  Rimouski - Shippegan (1922 map)
    The pink circle indicates an elevation of 906 meters (2975 feet) possibly where he almost hit a mountain peak.

    THURSDAY MAY 19, 1927
    Quebec City - Rimouski - Shippegan (New Brunswick)

    Leg Time & Distance  
     

    3 hrs. 50'
    600 Km (372 miles; 324 n.m.)

    The estimated time of departure was set for 7:30 a.m.

    Actual time of departure was 11:32 a.m. They arrived in Shippegan at 5:55 p.m. via Rimouski.

    Planning to leave for Trepassey Bay early tomorrow morning, weather permitting.

     Weather

    Cape Race, Newfoundland, reported thick fog throughout the day, lifting about six o'clock
    Light southeast winds prevailed.

    Annotations

    Departed Quebec City with good and clear weather for 250 Km. (155 miles) till Rimouski.
    In Rimouski they encounter fog so they touch down. De Pinedo goes to the railway station in order to gather information, by phone, on the weather conditions from various towns and villages scattered accross the Gaspé peninsula.

    The reports confirmed rain over the peninsula but that it was clear in both Shippegan and in the Chaleur Bay.

    So he sets the compass to fly directly to Chaleaur Bay at an altitude of 800 meters (2600 feet).

    The fog was so intense that they could not see the wingtips.

    From Rimouski to Shippegan he had a great scare and a narrow escape; he was told that they would not encounter mountains higher than 500 meters (1600 feet) on the way to Shippegan; while flying at 800 meters (2,600 feet) hills loomed up in front of him through a rift in the fog "I elevated the plane and just escaped a smash and after that I was very careful" he was reported to have said.

    In fact some peaks are above 1000 meters (3,200 feet).

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    Train station in Romouski (1910)

    Harbour in Shippegan (New Brunswick)

    FRIDAY MAY 20, 1927

    SHIPPEGAN - TREPASSEY BAY (NL) 

    Shippegan - Trepassey Bay (NL)
    On this same day Charles Lindbergh takes off from Roosevelt Field airport, New York.
    Excerpt from the flight timeline:
    "At 5:52pm - Flying along the southern coast of Newfoundland. Altitude: 300 ft. Air speed: 92 mph. Wind velocity: 20 mph."

    FRIDAY MAY 20, 1927
    SHIPPEGAN - TREPASSEY BAY

    Leg Time & Distance  

    5 hrs.
    860 Km ( (534 miles; 464 n.m.)

    Arrived at Trepassey Bay a few minutes after 6 p.m.; circled over the town while the sun shone brilliantly.

     Weather

    Pressure is now over the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence valley while a deep depression is moving eastward over the middle west...and showers have occurred in western Nova Scotia.
    Temperature in Halifax min. 44 F. (6 d. Celsius) and max. 62 F. (16 d. Celsius). Moderate north east wind.

    Around noon they were told that in Trepassey Bay the fog was starting to lift.

    MAY 21st: this morning the sky was overcast with a fresh north northwest wind. De Pinedo expressed the belief that the conditions would be favorable for his departure for the Azores tonight.

    Annotations

    At Trepassey Bay they have stored 150 cases of gasoline, 25 cases of castor oil and 18 cases of lubricating oil.
    In the event that fog and weather conditions force the Italian crew to descend on his hop from Shippegan to Trepassey Bay, supplies of gasoline have been sent to St. George's Bay on the west coast and to Placentia Bay on the south coast.

    They flew to Trepassey Bay with a good tail wind for an average speed of 190 to 200 Km. an hour (120 mph; 105 nmh).

    Encountered much fog after reaching the coast of Newfoundland but patches of clear air allowed him to stay on course.

    The crew was welcomed by C. McKay Harvey Consul for Italy and several compatriots.

    The accommodation for the crew was set up in two railway cars.

    De Pinedo describes the bay of Trepassey as follow: the natural port of Trepassey is situated in the bay by the same name, at the extreme south/east edge of Newfoundland and it consists of an arm of the sea, set towards a north north/east south south/west direction, 7 Km. in length (3.7 miles) and variably between 1000 meters (3,200 feet) and 500 meters (1,600 feet) wide.

    There was no sign of life but for a small fishing village.

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    Trepassey Bay map (1922)

    Article on Depinedo's crew arriving in Trepassey Bay - Halifax Chronicle May 20, 1927

    American ships anchored in the harbour at Trepassey Bay

    This is one of the self-propelled steam cars used on the railway line branch between St. John's and Trepassy at the time of De Pinedo stop over.

    MONDAY MAY 23, 1927

    TREPASSEY BAY - AZORES ISLANDS 

    MONDAY MAY 23, 1927
    Trepassey Bay - Azores

    Leg Time & Distance  

    13 hrs. 55'
    1,700 Km. (1,056 miles; 917 n.m.)

    The above time and distance refer to the touch down point at 41.11 N/033.54W some 520 Km. (323 miles; 280 n.m.) short of Horta.

    Commander De Pinedo estimated that the flight to the Azores would take approximately 14 hours.

    The Santa Maria II took off from the harbour at 4:28 a.m.

    De Pinedo reports having departed at 3:45 a.m.

    Captain Fernaux, of the steamer Nova Scotia, reported having heard the roar of Commander De Pinedo's plane at 4:00 a.m. from 5 to 10 miles east of Cape Race.

    Estimated time of arrival at Horta at 5 p.m.

    They were sighted 580 Km. (360 miles; 310 n.m.) north west of Fayal at 4:30 p.m.

    They were 5 hours overdue and at some point presumed lost.

     Weather

    This morning the weather in Trepassey Bay was fine and clear with a light west south/west wind; the cold is very intense.

    Heavy gale was swiping the Azores islands through the night and was reported to be continuing unfavourable for flying with heavy and low-hanging clouds and a low barometer.

    Annotations

    The crew made an attempt to leave yesterday morning when they boarded the plane at 1 a.m. and was towed by a small motor boat to the opposite end of the harbour, but they had to return within an hour under own power from the Narrows because the motor boat broke down while towing the plane and it was taking too long to get to the take off position due to the choppy water and gusting wind; at some point the wind changed to a westerly direction and therefore not favorable to the intended safe take off run.
    De Pinedo could not therefore reach Horta before dark so he abandoned until this morning (Halifax Daily News).

    De Pinedo had also requested a new tow boat which arrived that same night from St. John's.

    For this leg they were carrying 2380 Kg. (5247 lbs.) of fuel; 220 kg. (485 lbs.) of oil; 50 kg. (110 lbs.) of water; 40 kg. (88 lbs.) of anchor and cable; 50 Kg. (110 lbs.) of accumulators; 180 Kg. (397 lbs.) miscellenous (instruments, food, etc.); 200 kg. (440 lbs.) of crew.

    After take off De Pinedo steered the airplane on a heading of 113 degrees and added 5 degrees for drift effect, climbed to an altitude of only 200 meters (656 feet) over the ocean.
    At 5 o'clock they encounter a dense bank of fog.

    Climbs to 1000 meters (3,280 feet) to fly on top and disregards the previous 5 degrees correction in the heading because by this time he didn't know the wind direction. Flies for 2 hours over the fog and for an additional 2 hours between fog and clouds, so he climbs higher still to 2000 meters (6,500 feet). When there were able to finally get a positive sextant reading, it was determined that their ground speed had been a mere 130 Kmh (70 kt.; 80 mph.)

    By now the remaining fuel was not sufficient to take them to Horta or even to the closer Island of Flores, so they decided to touch down in the rough sea after they spotted a sail boat close by. It was a Portuguese fishing boat by the name "Infantes de Sagres" headed to the Grand Banks to fish cod. The captain agreed to tow them to Horta.

    It was determined that the rescue took place at 41.11N/033.54W.

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    INFORMATION AND DATA GLEANED FROM THE FOLLOWING SOURCES: 

    " Il Mio Volo Attraverso l'Atlantico e le Due Americhe" F. De Pinedo; HOEPLI, MILANO, 1928 (from the Canadian National Archives in Ottawa) 

    And from the following newspapers:

  • OTTAWA CITIZEN
  • MONTREAL GAZETTE
  • ST. JOHN'S THE DAILY NEWS
  • HALIFAX CHRONICLE
  • TORONTO GLOBE & MAIL