All Those Wonderful Stories...
Transocean Air Lines 1946 - 1960
The Transocean Stork
by Arue Szura, Folded Wings, A History of Transocean Air Lines
The flight from Munich became an ordeal for Captain Wally Kyse when both women went
into labor en route to Prestwick, Scotland. Kyse took a 5-minute "correspondence course" in
obstetrics by radio after sending a message to Prestwick: 2 babies about to be born on my
plane. What do I do?
The Prestwick controllers were momentarily baffled. The ground officer joked to Kyse that
he'd better see whether the plane's motors had any more speed in them. They then called Dr.
John Stevenson, the airport physician, who reduced midwifery to 5 easy steps - at least for
Kyse. Fortunately, Kyse didn't have to apply the lesson. The infants cooperated by making their
"landing" at a nearby hospital an hour after the plane touched down.
Captain Kyse's troubles may have been over, but the British immigration authorities were
then faced with 2 new travelers without passports, and their mothers had no documents
permitting them to stay in Scotland. Their husbands, also among the 53 passengers, were in
the same situation. Several high-level conferences were required before the problem was
resolved by sending the husbands on to New York, to be followed later by mothers and babes.
Thus, an international problem was solved.
Captain Galvin "Ace" Sargent picked up all the extra speed he could when he also
discovered 3 women in labor on one of his flights from Bremen, Germany, to Idlewild Airport in
The first announcement that one of the women was having labor pains came from the
purser when the aircraft was one hour from Meeks Bay, Iceland. Meeks Field was notified of
the emergency, and an ambulance was waiting at the gate when the plane landed to whisk
the mother-to-be to the local hospital.
In the air again, midway between Meeks Bay and Gander, Newfoundland, the purser
reported to Captain Sargent another passenger was now in labor. Not only was she in
extreme pain, but the birth seemed imminent.
Preparations were made in the crew compartment for the delivery. But once again, it was
not needed as the aircraft touched down at Gander with minutes to spare. Everybody sighed
and relaxed as they anticipated an uneventful flight to New York. Nothing left to do now, thought
Sargent, but fly the airplane.
Then, about an hour out of New York, the purser, who had aged considerably on this one
transatlantic flight, reported to the captain that yet another woman was starting labor.
Believing that labor must be contagious, Sargent, who was by now thoroughly
exasperated by this incredible string of blessed events, once more pushed the engines to the
limit. For the third time, he managed to land moments before the baby arrived.
Captain Walt Lawton, however, didn't quite out-fly the stork. He lost the race by only a few
minutes and a baby boy was born aboard the DC-4 that he and his crew were flying to
Honolulu from Oakland (a twelve-hour flight) with a full load of tour group passengers. The two
stewardesses were Alyce Martinez and Lori Mikosch, both of whom were single and in their
Just before the plane reached the point of no return, Alyce called Lori aside.
"Lori, I think we've got a problem. There's a lady up front who's in labor."
"What?" What did you say?" "She's going to have a baby!" "That's impossible, Alyce."
"No it isn't, she's not feeling too good." "You've got to be kidding. I don't remember seeing
anyone who was pregnant."
"Well, she had on a full coat when she boarded so we didn't notice."
When Captain Lawton was notified of the emergency, he first determined that the woman
wanted to proceed to Honolulu, instead of turning back to Oakland. He then radioed Honolulu
for a doctor to give instructions. Meanwhile, the stewardesses put the woman in the crew bunk
and made her as comfortable as possible. Messages from the doctor were so garbled that
Lori finally gave up, deciding they could manage without him.
She then alerted the passengers to the medical situation and asked if a doctor or a nurse
was on board. There was no response until an elderly gentleman stopped her as she passed
by. He patted her arm reassuringly while telling her that everything would be all right.
"Oh! Are you a doctor?" asked Lori. "No, I'm a minister."
"Well, can you help us out?" "Oh, no, my dear!"
"Well then pray. For God's sake, pray!"
The passenger was moaning in pain when Lori returned to the crew compartment.
"Now, Lori!" said Alyce, who had a weak stomach, "I'm the senior stewardess, right?"
"Well, then, you take care of the bottom half and I'll take care of the top half."
"But that's not fair!"
"Everything will be okay! I'll just go get a compress for her head, and then I'll hold her hand."
The plane had just begun its approach to the Honolulu airport when a healthy boy was
born. Lori slapped him on the back until he gave his first cry, then tied the umbilical cord with a
piece of yarn taken from the argyle socks she'd been knitting and then wrapped him in a
The passengers had been exceedingly patient despite the fact that they had not been served
anything to eat or drink by the preoccupied stewardesses. Everyone was so delighted by the
birth that a collection was taken for mother and baby after landing at Honolulu. Captain Lawton
supplied the hat.
The first of Transocean’s “labor pains”
occurred during the summer of 1949 aboard a
Transocean plane bound for New York from
Germany filled with refugees, including 2
pregnant women. Both of the women's babies
were due momentarily.