Before I get started – there is a lot written about this and it’s a rabbit hole waiting for anyone wanting to indulge. I am going to try to be fairly scant and summarise with this so you can go forth and armchair detective.

5th December, 1945 and five Grumman TBM Avenger bombers with 14 men took off, their trainer Lt. Charles Taylor was the only experienced pilot among them. They left at 2.10pm on a sunny winter day to go on a triangular routine training flight. Part of the course would have them practise a bombing run. Around 3.40pm the weather was deteriorating and Taylor said he was sure they had taken a wrong turn, saying his compass was not working and was trying to get the men to fly north.

Radio operators could barely hear it all but it was clear he did not feel he was in the right place. Taylor did not want to swap to another uncluttered emergency frequency as he feared  loosing contact with his scattered young air crew team.

At 17.15 he was heard saying they would fly west and at 18.04 they were flying east. The planes were running out of fuel, the sea was choppy and it was getting dark. The call from Taylor was for all planes to ditch together, at 19.05 no more was heard and the planes vanished.

Ditching together was an accepted plan, the debris flares and people would stay closer to enable flares and people would stay closer to enable a more successful recovery of men. Recovery searches were sent out and two Martin PBM Mariner flying boats were diverted to the search. The aircraft also disappeared and a nearby tanker, SS Gaines Mills, reported flames at the time, it left to no avail though as the aircraft and 13 men with it were never recovered either. That particular type of plane was known to be susceptible to fuel leaks, pilots named them ‘flying gas tanks’.

The navy board conducted an investigation, the 500-page document returned a verdict of genuine accident, he had led his flight to the wrong destination when his compass failed. Taylor’s mother appealed it, it suggested he was at fault and in October, 1947, the US Navy changed the verdict to ‘cause unknown.’

It’s just worth remembering that in 1945 there was no GPS and other planes had gone down in the seas, not just in Bermuda.

What happened to Flight 19? There have been TBM’s recovered from the area but so far none of them have been confirmed as Flight 19, is the general conclusion. I found an article www.hidingthetruth.com and it states that in 1990 a private investigation was undertaken, he believed the photographs matched up to serial numbers but I found no sources back to it for confirmation.

I did some more digging and found a more solid article: https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2014/april/24/fresh-search-for-lost-patrol

What do you think?

Flt19map.png
By User:Moriori (original author was User:Anynobody) – Existing file, CC BY 2.5, Link

 

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