Paul Redfern (Page Three)

This unexpected encounter took place on August 26 at approximately 3:00 p.m., and lasted about forty-five minutes. The ship was the Christian Krohg, a Norwegian steamship. It was near the island of Trinidad and some 165 miles off the coast from Venezuela. Approaching the ship from the north Paul Redfern began to circle the ship from a low altitude. He wrote a note on a piece of paper asking the captain to point the ship toward land, and to wave a flag or handkerchief once for each 100 miles. He signed the note. His father later verified his handwriting and signature.  He put the note in a carton and dropped it toward the ship. Unfortunately it landed in the ocean. A crewman dived into the water and retrieved the carton. After the captain read the note he had the ship turned to point toward Venezuela and blew the ship's whistle two times. Redfern lined his plane up with the direction of the ship, wagged the wings of the airplane in appreciation and began flying away toward Venezuela. 


When Redfern did not arrive at the airfield in Rio de Janeiro as planned, a massive sea, land and air search took place and lasted for several days. Then after his encounter with the Norwegian ship became known there were successive expeditions to French and British Guyana and Venezuela. Reports filtered in that Paul Redfern had been seen crossing the Orinico Delta and going in a southern direction toward Boca Grande. A small group of natives reported that they had seen him flying near St. Cathhert, British Guyana. No trace of Redfern or his Stinson Detroiter was found.

 

 


Redfern doing one of his many aviation stunts and adventures in S. C., here flying the Curtiss "Jenny"

Courtesy of the South Caroliniana Library


After a lull of several years there was another series of expeditions in the mid 1930s prompted by multiple reports that a white man on crutches was being held captive by an Indian tribe after he had fallen from the sky. These reports became so frequent and persistent as reported in various and sundry newspapers and the radio that the United States Government became concerned and got involved in the renewed search for Redfern. The Smithsonian Institution sponsored one expedition.  The last expedition took place in 1938 when Paul’s parents contracted with Theodore Waldeck to go in search of their son and his airplane. On April 28, 1938, a report was made from Georgetown, British Guyana, with the headline  “U. S. Searching Party Reports Redfern Dead.” The report went on to say that the Waldeck group, led by Theodore Waldeck, an ex-World War One pilot and his author wife, Jo, who had spent considerable time in the Guyana Wilderness, reported that they had found the spot where the aviator fell in Venezuela. Their report was based on a statement by a native who said that he had seen Redfern’s plane crash into some trees. The Waldecks were not able to get to the spot because of a wetter than usual season. The area in question was full of sinkholes, poisonous snakes and black widow spiders. The Waldecks returned to Columbia to discuss their findings with Dr. and Mrs. Redfern. Whereas the Redferns initially accepted the Waldeck’s conclusion that their son was dead, they later changed their minds believing that their only son had landed elsewhere and that he was still alive.