One of the questions I’ve had since the start of my investigation, and one subject I haven’t seen addressed very thoroughly is: How many planes were in the air that day. How many were in the air after or concurrently with the 14:10 take off of Flight- 19? How many other training or navigation problems flew out of Ft. Lauderdale? Could other planes from other ‘problems’ still have been in the air after 17:30 when darkness fell? It is important to be able to eliminate inaccurate plane sightings.
I’ve read recently in Gian Quasars, “They Flew into Oblivion”that there were seemingly 27 Flights of planes scheduled to take off from Fort. Lauderdale Naval Air Station that day 69 years ago. This is important to note, because though, Flight-19 (FT-28 Lt. Charles C. Taylor) was late taking off, (Flight- 18 Lt. Stoll had taken off approx 20 plus minutes earlier) there were allegedly seven other flights of aircraft, likely TBM’s scheduled to take off in 20 minute increments, after it.
That would mean that most if not all the other flights, unless scrubbed for some other reason, could have been able to get off the ground before the 15:40(3:40PM) distressed call by Taylor. ( Quasar pg. 120)” Flights 16-27 Were still up at 15:40″
Assuming that each flight had 1 Division, two sections (2 Planes per section) and a trainer, that would suggest that there were possibly up to at least 40 additional Navy training aircraft from Ft. Lauderdale: (not to mention Army or Civilian traffic), in the air along with Flight-19 at the time of its troubled flight.
Which means that the 15:00 (3PM) sighting of 4 TBM’s by the SS Ft. William and quite possibly the 17:50 (5:50) radar sighting of the USS Solomon’s of a group of 4 to 6 aircraft off Flagler Beach FL could have been other flights currently out training.
Out of all these aircraft, only a few reported contact with the flight. Again, according to Quasar, only two other pilots had radio contact with Taylor. Lt-Cox in FT-87 (Flight 25?)and members of Flight 22? So did no other pilot report anything in their after action briefings? Larry Kusche states in his book “The Disappearance of Flight – 19” (Pg.11) J.B. “Obie” O’Brien, Melvin Pike, and Nathan Puffer, three other pilots up at the time heard enough of the conversation to determine someone was lost and didn’t know which way to go.” Other than these, there were allegedly no others reported to help fill the gaps in the official Naval Inquiry Radio log evidence.