Jack Knight
From collection of Dorothy M. Lewis
Email inquiry from Dorothy M. Lewis
Dear Mr. Cooper,
     I was so thrilled to find your web page, since it's the first lead I've found. I'm really hoping that you might have, or can direct me to, information about Jack Knight's expeditions for the U.S. government to South American in search of rubber during WW II. My father, Arthur R. Lewis, flew as his radio officer on at least one of these expeditions to the Amazon, and I'd very much like to include this information in our family genealogy.
Arthur R. Lewis
Arthur R. Lewis on PBY NC33300, Brazil, 1945
From collection of Dorothy M. Lewis
       I've attached a photo of my dad standing on the wing of the plane. Unfortunately, it's not much in the way of details, but it's the only one of the photos taken during the expedition that's been scanned (I don't have a scanner). There also is one photo of crew members (taken with a group of villagers in front of a thatched poll house) and one of the sea plane. Large U.S. flags are on the front side and top rear, and the number on the tail is NC33300, so I would assume it to be a civilian plane. A friend suggested, being war time, this might have been a secret expedition, and that we'd now be able to get data on it under the "Freedom of Information Act", but I haven't a clue on how to go about this. Would you happen to know?
Thanks again, and let's hope we luck out soon.
Arthur R. Lewis
The crew with the villagers doesn't include Jack Knight or Dorothy's father, who took the picture, Brazil, 1945
From collection of Dorothy M. Lewis

     If you search for "Rubber Development Corporation +amazon", using the Google search engine, (10-4-03), you will find about 29 links. A good place to start is the following. If time permits and you are interested in futher information on the story of this enterprise, you can sample some of the other websites.
A Brief History of Rubber (based on Wade Davis, One River 1996)
     "However the second world war threatened to shift the rubber wealth. With Japan occupying prime rubber producing areas in Southeast Asia, the US feared it would run out of the vital material. Every tire, hose, seal, valve, and inch of wiring required rubber. The Rubber Development Corporation, the chief overseer of rubber acquisition, sought out other sources including establishing a rubber program that sent intrepid explorers into the Amazon seeking rubber specimen that would be used to produce high yields, superior product, and possibility of resistance against leaf blight. The ultimate goal of the program was to establish rubber plantations close to home. In addition to searching the Amazon and establishing experimental plantations in Latin America, the program came up with some novel plans to produce rubber including planting Dandelions in 41 states. Extensive work on synthetic rubber yielded a product that, in time, economists predicted would replace natural rubber. By 1964 synthetic rubber made up 75% of the market."
     The paragraph above was excerpted from the whole story on the mongabay.com website. It puts the role of the Rubber Development Corporation into context. You can read the whole story by clicking on the title above.
US Navy and US Marine Corps BuNos
Third Series (00001 to 10316)
     This website offers the information that "Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina 08064 was sold to the Rubber Development Corp as NC33300." You can access the site by clicking on the title above. You may want to use the FIND button on "NC33300" to locate the entry on the page.

       If you have any more information on the Rubber Development Corporation, especially as related to the role of the NC33300 in Brazil, please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper
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