THE BALLAD OF THE FLYING BOAT MARTIN MARINER  CS-THB

Lyrics, Roger Coghill.


Where were you,  dewy angels, on that cold November day?

Were you sporting on Machico’s sands, or mountains far away?

While the boat with wings of silver, awaits in Lisbon bay,

Eager to fly away.


A fish, a boat, an aeroplane, she lifted to the sky

Carrying her thirty passengers, as they waved the earth goodbye,

But never thought to die.


Where were you, dewy angels, when my darling felt so cold

And drew her blankets round her, as the icy air took hold

And made her blood run cold.


The captain lowered altitude to warm his chilling plane,

But scarce the minutes pass before the passengers complain

About the cold, in vain.


Where were you, dewy angels, to warm her with feathered wing,

As I waited by the harbor, full of fond imagining

And wedding in the Spring.


Her captain with foreboding, he told his stewards, “Go

Light heaters in the cabin but keep them burning low:

We still have hours to go”.


In vain, for all a-sudden the cabin filled with flame,

The air was filled with screaming, as down the sky they came,

And the angels fled in shame.


I waited on the quayside, in Funchal’s sunlit town.

The coloured flowers around me turned their painted petals down,

And bent them to the ground.


They knew that all the angels had left the island’s lee

To carry up to heaven my true love from the sea.

And would not come for me.


Sometimes, now old and frailing, I stand upon that pier

And faint on the horizon I can believe I hear

The flying boat descending, to bring to me my dear.

And soon it will appear.


Note:  A small sitting area in Funchal’s Story Centre Museum commemorates the unexplained loss of flying boat Martin Mariner CS-THB (renamed The Porto Santo) on 8 November 1958, which, after delays due to bad weather, set out on its maiden flight from Lisbon to Madeira with 30 passengers and 6 crew. All were lost. No wreckage was ever found. “Many US Navy Martin Mariner crews were uneasy about the reliability and safety of the gasoline-fuelled cabin heater, and refused to use it, even in the coldest weather. The crew of the CS-THB may have turned on the cabin heater for the comfort of the passengers, resulting in an in-flight fire and explosion”. (from The Fighter Flying Boat, a History of the Martin PBM Mariner, Richard Alden Hoffman).

The only communications from CS-THB was a request by the highly experienced pilot, Jim Broadbent, to lower altitude from 8000 to 6000 feet after 17 minutes into flight, and a Mayday call 40 minutes later. He gave no explanation of either communication.


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