A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2016 Feb 16, 15:28 -0800
Thanks. I got to wondering what type of aircraft this was and dug around a bit online. It was a Lockheed Constellation. Here's a little more on the incident from a Wikipedia article:
"March 10, 1947: TWA Constellation 'Star of Hollywood' experienced sudden decompression during a transatlantic flight from NYC to Geneva, Switzerland. The aircraft had stopped at Gander to refuel and take on passengers and crew; it was 500 miles into the leg to Shannon, Ireland, at an altitude of 19,000 ft. when the astrodome (a clear plastic bubble on the top of the fuselage) shattered. Navigator George Hart, who was under the astrodome making a sextant measurement at the time, was sucked out of the aircraft over the North Atlantic. The aircraft returned to Gander and passengers continued the flight on a replacement aircraft. Within a few weeks, TWA responded to the accident by equipping navigators on transatlantic flights with a safety harness; on aircraft used for domestic flights, a 1/4-inch aluminum plate was installed under the astrodome (only transatlantic flights used the astrodome for navigation)."
And below is a copy of a reference used in the Wikipedia article. The article is quite detailed and seems to downplay the seriousness of the event, claiming that the 21 passengers "hardly knew that anything had happened"; I suspect that was Lockheed's and TWA's public relations teams doing their job. It's hard to imagine an era when commercial aviation was such a rare thing that a small town newspaper would actually list the names of the (American) passengers --none of whom were injured or killed-- on a transatlantic flight. I notice that one of the passengers was a Gordon Reed from Newport, Rhode Island... no relation.
Conanicut Island USA ...three miles from Newport, Rhode Island