American Original: A Life of Will Rogers

By Ray Robinson | Go to book overview
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Appendix A

Postmortems

Over the years, a number of theories have been advanced to the cause of the air crash in the Walatka lagoon. Exactly what happened will never be known. But on one thing, almost all observers have agreed: The oversized pontoons created an imbalance in the craft, making the plane much too heavy in the nose. This, combined with sudden engine failure, caused Post to lose control of his aircraft.

Why the engine failed has also been the subject of speculation. Some said the engine cooled off during the time that Wiley and Will chatted with the Eskimos. Others suggested that the plane simply ran out of gas, a theory that gained support from the fact that there was no gasoline found in the tanks, following the crash, and none on the surface of the lagoon. The sudden sputtering of the motor, before the plane took its fatal plunge, adds credibility to this notion.

Another theory that has been offered was that, as Post was taxiing down the lagoon on the takeoff, the plane's pontoons collided with a submerged sandbar. However, scant credence has been given to this idea; similarly, little

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