Photo of TBF/M Avengers kindly provided by the Naval Air Station Museum Fort Lauderdale Florida.


Perhaps the hardest question to answer in trying to make any case for a Flight-19 conspiracy theory is why?

What could possibly cause the United States Government, or in this case the United States Navy to feel the need to cover up or suppress the details surrounding not only the disappearance but perhaps the discovery and recovery of the five TBM Avenger aircraft?

At first glance, it seems like a pretty farfetched idea: trying to associate the deaths of 14 sailors and marines in a training accident with any part of a conspiracy theory, especially with little evidence in a period just after the victorious end of World War II, right?

Of course, it’s not as incredible as saying that the planes were snatched up by aliens. Still, questions exist and will probably continue too as long as there’s still a Bermuda Triangle or at least until the wrecks and remains are definitively identified and possibly recovered.

Just to be clear, as of this moment and as far as this author is aware, there has yet to be any direct or empirically documented evidence of a cover-up of any kind surrounding Flight-19.

For argument’s sake, however, given what we know today regarding government and military ethics and the idea of plausible deniability it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

So if we take the idea of duplicity seriously we need to ask in what context would we need to examine the backdrop of the event to make a case for conspiracy? What was going on at the time that may have affected, or quite possibly been effected by the training flight in such a way that it would need to be hidden?

One thing we can be sure of is the fact that change and adjustment were a constant factor in the US military-industrial complex in the period between the end of World War II and the beginning of the cold war in 1947.

With the invention of the atomic bomb and the US becoming the first superpower many of the larger-scale transitions substantially impacted the Navy.

Furthermore: there is enough circumstantial evidence around some of the most prominent changes to conclude the Navy was overburdened and its resources taxed to the point that there can be no denying it was complicit in the Flight-19 tragedy. A detailed look at the following contributing factors will appear in future posts.

They are:

  • Major Changes in the Navy’s leadership caused upheaval and chaos as the wishes and directions of the CNO (Chief of Naval Operations) and Secretary of the Navy changed in a relatively short period of time impacting both short and long-term service needs.
  • Demobilization – the general recall of the majority of US Forces back to civilian life initially found the Navy lacking a stable platform from which to base fair decisions for an equitable form of service-related discharge program for its own personnel.
  • Operation Magic Carpet put additional strain on the Navy requiring it to transport large volumes of service personnel back to the CONUS quickly, so quickly that combat vessels quite often filled in as transports.
  • Navy Manning tables especially those related to occupation duties were uncharacteristically altered consistently strained adjusting to personell losses while also trying to prioritize the mission.
  • Though conclusive evidence is yet to be found, and Navy & Marine Corps dissertation rates had averaged around 5.5 per 1,000 throughout the war, odds are as demobilization faltered those numbers spiked as 1945 came to a close, further causing shortages of staff and crews.
  • Naval doctrine was at a critical junction at the end of the war as Battleship domination in sea warfare was over, replaced by the still-forming future concept of naval air forces centered around aircraft carrier battle groups.
  • The Army Air Corps was pushing for strategic dominance over the Navy in ownership and use of the new ‘Atomic Bomb’, while in the process creating a separate branch of service from the Army purposefully designed for the new mission: The soon-to-be US Air Force.
  • The War Department, aka the US Army, using the bomb as a stepping-off point was inwardly working to disband and absorb the US Marine Corps, and in passing marginalize the US Navy and its role in national defense through the planned military unification began under FDR.
  • Concurrent with the loss of Flight-19 the results of the USS Indianapolis sinking and the court-martial of Captain Charles B. McVay III brought about a closer examination of Navy procedures and questioned its ability to command, communicate and control effectively before and during the drawdown.

In conclusion: to say the least these pre-cold war events and mindsets created a chaotic period of adjustment for the military, potentially impacting national security.

Influenced by political gamesmanship, public perceptions, and the resulting pressure on, and by Congress, this confusion and disorganization would carry over to all facets of the Navy.

Furthermore, the perception of fallibility would influence navy operational and training and maintenance procedures, and outcomes, including those of the Advanced Naval Air Training Command to the point, that it impacted installations on the South East Coast specifically in this case NAS Fort Lauderdale.

This hit to naval prestige would aid the Navy’s detractors and help to weaken its public standing and threaten its very existence. The need for containment and fidelity of the exposure of the Flight-19 incident therefore would seem great if not imperative. But is it reason enough to explain a potential cover-up?

PIN THE TAIL ON THE .50 CAL |Tracking a machine gun.

November 26, 2017 – In his book “The Discovery of Flight-19”, Jon Myhre details the wreckage of a naval aircraft from the 1940’s or 50’s found in the woods near the everglades in Felsmere Florida sometime in the 1960’s or 70’s.

The only evidence of this wreck which I know to still exist are items removed from the scene by one of the persons who found the plane, Judge Graham Stikelether of Indian River County, FL.  A .50 Caliber Machine Gun with a bent barrel, a .50 caliber machine gun mount of some kind, and one or two other various un-identified parts, are all that is left.

Destroyed .50- Caliber machine gun found at the Felsmers Florida wreck in the 1960/70’s.

Now, despite there being dozens if not hundreds of missing Navy and Army aircraft from the mid -twentieth century in the waters in and around parts of Florida, this particular wreck is of great interest for a few different reasons.  We’ll focus on just one here.

This specific plane crash site stands out, first and foremost because it was  found inland, and not on the ocean floor!!

Of course, the idea of some of the missing Flight-19 planes crashing over land is a relatively new one, but it holds more merit, than saying they all were sucked up into some kind of vortex over the Bermuda Triangle, and it is much easier to investigate than scanning the sea bottom for metal wrecks. Still it has its challenges.

After 72 years, records have been lost, destroyed, or worse yet redacted, metal rusts, and memories fade away.  But as Jon explains in his 2012 book by the Paragon Agency (ISBN13: 978-1-891030-58-1) if it turns out the wreckage found in Felsmere was that of a TBM-1C Avenger after all, it could very well be that of FT-36 Bul No. 73209.  The plane was piloted by Captain Edward Joseph, Powers Jr. USMC, 09789, and crewed by Staff Sergeant, Howell Orrin,Thompson,  USMCR, 499181 &  Staff Sergeant,George Richard, Paonessa , USMC, 805639.

Can you identify this machine gun mount?

So how can we determine the aircraft identity? Well, one way is through part identification via serial no. plates and records if possible.

Jon had figured out long before I had, that we might be able to pin point the type of aircraft this machine gun came from if we could track  the serial no. from production to delivery.

Unfortunately, there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Browning .30 & .50 caliber machine guns out there.  Furthermore; over time the patent to produce them has been sold to dozens of manufacturers around the world. The best I have done so far has been to pretty much duplicate Jon’s research.  The gun as indicated on the plate shown, was made in New Haven Connecticut by the High Standard Company under the Browning moniker.

clip_image002 (1)
ID Serial No. Plate for .50 caliber machine gun. (All Photos courtesy of Jon Myhre.)

I’ve contacted Browning but as they don’t own the military portion of the company anymore the best they could do was forward my request to a history docent at the Browning Museum.  So far that lead hasn’t panned out either and though I haven’t given up and am working on the High Standard connections again as Jon had I don’t expect to make much headway.

However: I believe the key to the identification of the type of aircraft  could be narrowed down by identifying the machine gun mount itself.  First of all, the question is whether it’s a turret mount or a wing mount.?  If it is an AN-M2 aerial machine gun, which I can’t tell from the plate, is it likely a wing mount gun?

The Avenger had a specially mounted gun in a purposely built turret placed to the rear of the pilot. The TBM-1 like other planes of the period had two .50 calibers in the wing root for strafing. If the gun mount photo could be matched to that of an Avenger turret part we would have our answer.  If it turns out to be a wing based gun we’ve gotten no where. It wouldn’t even help determining if it was an Army or Navy plane.  So far photos I have seen of the turret have not shed any light.

My next stop in this part of the investigation is to visit the the Springfield Armory Museum right here in Springfield. Perhaps, I may be able to learn more about the gun there. If you have any information that may be helpful please feel free to contact me at






REFERENCE: The US Naval Command Organization – October 1945

Copy of Chart of OP-31-jab Serial: 177P03 from the First Naval District Port Directors Files 22 October 1945
NARA College Park Maryland

According to the 1st Naval District Port Director Files; the fleet diagram (shown above) indicates that the US Atlantic Fleet as of 10/17/1945 was technically the parent organizational force for the much of the entire Navy at that time to includ the Second,Fourth,Eighth and Tenth active fleets. Keep in mind this was at least two months after the surrender of the Japanese on V-J Day.

Looking more closely though, the chart also indicates how much of a role the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) still had in the operational control of a large portion of the Navy, to include the Eastern, Gulf and Caribeean Sea Frontiers as well as the Sixteenth (Inactive) Fleet; all control entities for the units involved in the Flight-19 training and search and rescue missions.

The Chief of Naval Operations at that time and up to the day he was relieved of command December 15th, 1945 was Fleet Admiral Ernest King. Coincidentally his tour of duty ended just four days prior to the Court Martial of Captain James McVay of the USS Indianapolis was completed and just five days after the search and rescue of Flight-19 ended.


Cardinal FLIGHT-19 Research Resources (Pg.2) Updated 2/23/2022

A US Navy Sailor, bugler from (C)1917? Public Domain Image

DISCOVERY – January 30th, 2021

If I have learned anything so far in my quest for the historical facts regarding Flight-19, points that really need to be shared, they are the following.

The first, is that there is an inherent risk in accepting whatever you read or hear about the story of Flight-19 at face value, no matter what the source. Yes, even official reports and documentation from the era can have misleading and incorrect information. Albeit it is often seems informed and sometimes contains expert opinion – a few sources even have corroborating documentation- and we do have to be pramatic and start somewhere right? Just keep in mind much of it has never been vetted and until it is, it is at best unfortunately nothing but circumstantial evidence based on hearsay.

“For as I believe any Historian will tell you, memories fade over time, people make mistakes, and there is always the opportunity for bias in retelling history.”

The uncertainty of even basic information, which we would normally consider as being trustworthy concerning everything from plane nomenclature, fuel capacity, equipment and maintenance work before the flight, to reports of sightings of survivors during the search and rescue should only be considered tentative facts until they are validated technically through examination of manuals or review of corroborating evidence and testimony.

I must admit that I was naïve in my belief that I could rely on the veracity of even the formal sources in the first place. Having been in the military myself I should have known better. I have seen my share of pencil whipped maintenance paperwork being submitted as authoritative documentation for one reason or another.

My second illumination, is that for the time being the legend of the Flight-19 disappearance and the Bermuda Triangle enigma are, for better or for worse, seemingly forever intertwined. I believe it’s fair to say that Flight-19 stays current in super natural lore simply because of it’s association with the Bermuda Triangle. If there were no triangle then the allure of the Flight-19 story would likely have faded into history years ago.

Conversely, it makes one wonder if the reverse were true: that if there was no Flight-19, would the luster of the Bermuda Triangle still exist? When’s the last time you heard of a ship or plane dissapearing? Whatever the case we must rely on the available evidence to find the facts to lead us forward in any working theory on either topic.

Unfortunately, until someone finds long lost documentation in the National archives or in someone’s basement, or the US Navy comes forward with some new information regarding its knowledge of events since 1945, or someone defnitively finds the planes, any speculative theory may never be proven.

A final piece of insight.

Anyone taking this research seriously needs to be forewarned of the specter that loiters in the background of even the most legitimate and seriously open minded Flight-19 research. I hesitate to call it conspiracy, but one might begin to ruminate about the possibility of subterfuge or duplicity on the part of the US Navy and perhaps the government itself. It’s an inferred correlation, speculative at best, but one that deserves some consideration just the same. There just seems to be too much coincidence regarding naval involvement and possible interferrence to ignore.

We will examine this invisible intrigue in a future blog.

Pg. 1

FLIGHT-19 PICS – A Tale of Two Planes and Two Numbers!


Dateline – 30 January 2020

It’s a little noticed Flight-19 detail, but according to the U.S. Navy, (Image #1), there were two different models of TBM Avengers flying Navigational Hop-1 that day in 1945.  Four of the planes were shown to be TBM-1C’s , and the fifth, FT-28, was a TBM-3.  As an amateur Flight-19 historian, I had overlooked and made little note of this information until just recently when I noted what appeared to be a discrepancy in the book Discovery of Flight-19 by Jon Myhre.  Myhre a much respected Flight-19 researcher and author claimed that FT-28 was a TBM-3D not a TBM-3.

I was comforted knowing that I was not alone in my ignorance to the plane differences. For years this obtuse distinction between Flight-19 aircraft has understandably by and large gone unacknowledged by the general public. To the untrained eye, the aircraft look the same. If you weren’t aware that there were different TBM variants, you wouldn’t be looking for them.

This confusion regarding characteristic variations in aircraft over time has been further compounded by the erroneous photographs found in, books, newspapers, magazines, TV shows and movies. These images have been  unintentionally misleading the general public into believing that not only were all the aircraft the same but that there are existing photographs of the planes and crews together. 

To investigate and prove or disprove these assertions, my wife and I went to the NAS Ft. Lauderdale museum, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on a research vacation. What we didn’t expect to find in our inquiry was the lack of attributed photographic evidence and documentation found in the museums collection. Still despite the seemingly lacking material provenance we remained undaunted in our search.

(Image#1)Accident-report-Flight-19-pilot-Taylor-1. Bureau Number (BuNu) #23037 Official Navy Document provided by the NAS Ft. Lauderdale Museum

Not long after starting our investigation however perhaps the most familiar photograph of the plane famously known as FT-28 and most commonly associated with Flight-19 (Photo# 1) was made known to us by the director of the museum John Bloom. Before we could get our hopes up, we were informed that it was not the plane leading the “Lost Patrol”.

According to Bloom the credit for this discovery should be attributed to the founder of the NAS Fort Lauderdale Historical Association – Allan F. McElhiney (now deceased). I asked John how McElhiney, (a driving force behind the museums creation), knew it wasn’t the same plane? He was unsure how to respond and unable to go into detail ‘ he was just told that (he) McElhiney knew ‘. 

So how did McElhiney figure it out? Let’s start with circumstantial evidence.

According to Bloom, ‘At the time of the Flight-19 disappearance there were approximately 180 Avengers, a few SNJ’s and other training planes assigned to NAS Fort Lauderdale ‘  From a practical perspective, because the Navy was re-consolidating and closing other naval aviation training facilities like NAS Miami in the months immediately following the war, it stands to reason that Ft. Lauderdale was a recipient of TBM, perhaps even TBF Avengers to use for training and parts. But this information doesn’t allow us to unequivocally claim that the plane is not FT-28.

Previous Model of Ft-28 NAS Ft. Lauderdale
(Photo #1) FT-28 (Circa 1943/44) Mistakenly identified as a TBM-3 this is not the plane that led Flight-19! Photo courtesy of the NAS Ft. Lauderdale Museum.

Let’s look further into the photo itself. To reach the same findings as McElhiney, one has to ignore all references to the number 28 in the photograph. After all you will see, it is the center of the mis-perception. We also need to examine a couple of generations of the TBF/TBM Avenger line to make the comparison distinguishing plane variants. 

Using TBF/TBM aircraft identification reference materials (1*,2*) (See last page.) and by closely comparing the images, we can see details important in distinguishing the models.  

1.) Though it is not visible from the front (Photo #1) the TBM-1 Avenger had a single .50 caliber machine gun built into the nose of the plane mounted up close to the cockpit. It was powered by the 1700 HP Wright R-2600-8 engine which had a single engine scoop air intake built into the upper portion of the engine cowling . 

2.) The TBM-1C Avenger kept the engine with the single scoop but added a second machine gun, moving one to each wing root and eliminating the nose mount altogether.

3.) The TBM-3 Avenger kept the machine guns in the wing root but replaced the engine with the 1900 HP Wright R-2600-20, 14 cylinder, air cooled radial engine. Designers evidently felt the added heat required an additional air intake to be added in the lower cowling.

As can be clearly seen in the photo above the second air intake is not present and the two machine gun mounts, one each, are just visible on each wing. We have therefore visually proven the theory put forth by McElhiney that the plane shown is actually a TBM-1C, assigned the tail registration number 28. 

So, what difference does that make you may ask?  First and most importantly, it proves that the Avenger aircraft numbered 28 pictured is not the plane famously associated with Flight-19 and piloted by Navy Lt. Charles C. Taylor!

In the larger scope of all things Flight-19, it also means that we cannot rely solely on the painted on plane tail registration numbers to identify plane photographs and for that matter wrecks. Though the plane number may be the most focal point in finding and identifying wreckage, an in depth analysis using official documentation, the Bureau Number in conjunction with the examination of the plane structure is the most accurate means of verification.  The second set of numbers makes the difference in proving identification.


NAS Ft. Lauderdale: Where it all began.

All of my research thus far has led me to the conclusion that to get a true understanding of the events occurring, December 5th 1945 in Fort Lauderdale Florida, it is imperative for anyone researching Flight-19, that they visit the Naval Air Station Museum. I for one have been wanting to go for ages now, and I am finally getting my chance. Continue reading “NAS Ft. Lauderdale: Where it all began.”

Review of “Flight-19 Depth Perception” by Michelle Lemburg.

Beware! Flight-19 Depth Perception will blow your mind! Alright, let me qualify that statement. If you are savvy and already familiar with the disappearance of the 1945 flight of missing Navy torpedo bombers than this book will make you re-evaluate and challenge all that you perceive as fact.

Though the author relies mainly on secondary sources in her prose, she deftly, but problematically measures there conclusions against the core piece of evidence available. Using the naval review board report from 1945 she both expounds on and contradicts conventional thought, simultaneously. This juxtaposing of timelines and witness accounts really challenges the reader to keep up.

However: the lack of professional editing and additional use of tertiary online sources like Wikipedia and Google is somewhat worrisome. The online articles often referred to by embedded hyperlinks are not properly cited. And though valid points, the reader is left to wander the article with only a hint of the connection to be made. Furthermore: the author’s style of writing the narrative in conjunction with the bibliography or source page does not fit any standard research model found in a traditionally published, Chicago…etc.

In summation, as a piece of non-fiction, Flight-19 Depth Perception falls short of being a scholarly piece of writing. But the contents alone make it a book for any seasoned Flight-19 investigator. Certainly, as a refreshing take on an old subject, Michelle Lemburg and her OCD writing- her words not mine; in my opinion is undervalued at double the price and well worth the trouble to read.

Review of “The Real Story of Flight-19”


The real story of Flight 19 by Steve MacGregor

The author Steve MacGregor sets out to outline his research into the mystery of the Flight-19 disappearance in a logical manner. He is quite successful at explaining the rudimentary timeline and his theory on the happenstance of both the TBM Avenger aircraft and one of the PBM rescue planes sent to find them.

However, in my humble opinion, the book falls short of being a true work of research for a few different reasons. Among other things, it does not contain an index of referenced materials & terms and therefore the reader cannot reference an alleged fact easily. And though there is a short bibliography it is not written in any set standard writing format such as AP or MLA…etc.

Furthermore; though it is a very succinct and simply detailed account of the event, including the subsequent paradoxes after the search and rescue there are a few elements missing from the timeline that the researcher should be aware of and a couple that I believe were overemphasized.

The reader should know that the author’s work is a short piece of approximately 110 pages and is meant as one volume in a series of writings about true-life mysteries.

To be fair, I skimmed the book in two hours looking for key elements to a well-authored piece and though I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the story, I sincerely suggest using it as a supplementary reading or as an introduction to a more in-depth analysis by most of the authors listed in the bibliography.

Ft. Lauderdale or Bust!

Image result for hitchhikersTo all my followers! Yes, all 8 of you. Here’s my conundrum. I will shortly be becoming a Grand father not once but twice in the next several months. Thank you, thank you!! I am as you can imagine very excited. But that’s not the problem. I need to get to Ft. Lauderdale to research aspects of topics for my book. I need to interview, one or two people, research files in at least one if not more museums and archives, and yet, like many people I cannot afford to do so, especially with the grand children on the way.  But I need to get to Ft. Lauderdale sooner rather than later.  I have been trying to get part-time work, with no luck and I can’t legitimize applying to ‘Go fund me’. In my mind there are so many more worth while charities I can’t imagine my need to get to Florida would top many people’s lists. I need your help to figure out how I get there.  Please help! Thank you.

DECEMBER 5TH, 1945 MEMORIAL | A day that lives in Infamy!

Alongside December 7th, 1942, December 5th, 1945 is also a day that will forever be remembered infamously. Why is that you ask?  Because it too was a day of great loss; another senseless tragedy for the country.

We remember on that day 72 years ago when 14; World War II veterans; naval aviators and crew, many of them combat survivors, went missing off the coast of Florida.  They weren’t lost during a daring raid on some enemy shipping or in defense of some island. No, the war had ended.  Instead they were lost during a simple and routine training exercise in a time of peace, in preparation for the next time.

Photos Graciously provided by Minerva Bloom and the Naval Air Museum Fort Lauderdale Florida.

” THE 19th FLIGHT “
FT – 28 Flight Leader: NASFL Instructor, Lt. Charles Carroll Taylor, USNR. Aircraft: TBM-3D – BuNo 23307.
Crew: Gunner George Francis Devlin, AOM3c, USNR. Radioman: Walter Reed Parpart, Jr. ARM3c, USNR.

FT – 36 Pilot: Capt. Edward Joseph Powers, USMC. Aircraft: TBM-1C – BuNo 46094.
Crew: Gunner Sgt. Howell Orrin Thompson, USMCR. Radioman: Sgt. George Richard Paonessa, USMCR.

FT – 81 Pilot: 2nd Lt. Forrest James Gerber, USMCR. Aircraft: TBM-1C – BuNo 46325.
Crew: (Only one) Pfc. William Lightfoot, USMCR. That day, Corporal Allan Kosnar had asked to be excused from this exercise.

FT- 3 Pilot: Ensign Joseph Tipton Bossi, USNR. Aircraft: TBM-1C –  BuNo 45714.
Crew: Gunner Herman Arthur Thelander, S1c, USNR. Radioman: Burt E. Baluk, S1c, USNR.

FT- 117 Pilot: Captain George William Stivers Jr., USMC. Aircraft: TBM-1C –  BuNo 73209.
Crew: Gunner Sgt. Robert Francis Gallivan, USMCR. Radioman: Pvt. Robert Peter Gruebel, USMCR.”

Additionally we remember the 13 crew members of Training-49; a PBM-5 Mariner sea plane that was lost with all hands during the search and rescue operations that day.  In the end, though the Navy put a tremendous effort into finding the crews, the worsening weather and darkness of the great ocean proved too much that December.

In conclusion, I’d ask that you read the words written below out of respect and tradition for those who made the ultimate sacrifice both in war & continue to do so in time of peace.

* Eternal Father (The Navy Hymn) found on the U.S. Navy Home Page

Verse 1: Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Verse 2: O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked’st on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Verse 3: Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Verse 4: O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe’er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

1860 by William Whiting of Winchester, England, 

Eternal Father, grant, we pray,
To all Marines, both night and day,
The courage, honor, strength, and skill
Their land to serve, thy law fulfill;
Be thou the shield forevermore
From every peril to the Corps.
J. E. Seim (1966)