Friday, November 23, 2012

New data on old mystery (Flight 19)

In 1945, five TBM Avenger torpedo planes on a training mission near Florida, carrying 14 men, disappeared. The US Navy board of inquiry considered various scenarios but couldn't pin down exactly what happened.  That left the field open for theories of the Bermuda Triangle (a term not coined until years later) including UFOs, unknown natural forces, giant undersea gas explosions, time travel, etc., etc. A new book by ex-pilot Jon Myhre suggests we can, using radio transcripts, sighting reports, and other information, reach back in time to solve the mystery. He thinks that when the commander, Lt Charles Taylor, got the flight lost off the east coast of Florida, the other pilots stayed with him for too long, but they did not, as often suggested, ditch all together. According to Myhre, another pilot who had the right bearings broke away and tried to fly home, but by this point they'd used too much fuel, and the planes ended up in five locations - two of which may, he thinks, have been on land - as each ran out of fuel at slightly different times.  There is even a possibility that one aviator survived: he made it to land, contacted his family, but went AWOL from the Navy. 
COMMENT: I grew up with this mystery, so to speak, as a fascinated boy on Florida's East Coast. I've not read the book yet, but the idea that four planes broke off from Taylor makes sense: in the military, you follow your leader, and it's a desperate decision to leave him: If all five planes had survived, breaking up the flight would have led to disciplinary action, so it's understandable the other pilots waited until it was too late before they mutinied. I've not read the book yet, but it's kind of iffy that all Myhre's details work out, even if he has the central event right: his claim that three planes have been found and one raised is contradicted (as was a news item a couple decades ago saying all five had been found) by other sources saying the engine serial numbers were not matched.  Still, I suspect Myhre has the main course of events correct, and following his clues may indeed lead to a definitive discovery in the future.

1 comment:

omegaman66 said...

I love a good mystery as much as anyone. Love reading about unexplained things. And flight 19 is one of them. Not that I think it is strange that they went missing but strange that many years later people turn a simple orientation disaster into something mystical and mysterious. THAT is the real story.