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.
From my past email conversations with the former director of the museum; the wonderfully gracious Minerva Bloom, I believe the museum is key to any research on topics of Flight-19. I don’t say this simply because its all that history has left us of Naval Air Station Fort. Lauderdale, but because it is also the only facility that I know of that has an archived collection of materials dedicated to the case of Flight-19.
Think about it.
This fact alone makes these documents the only depository of evidence of all things Flight-19 in one place! Outside of various sources of documentation in Washington DC, it is the only place left to connect to the crews. So besides and in addition to the official naval inquiry report, the museum houses much of the supporting history related to the Flight-19 mystery, including specifics about the search, maintenance, operations, and rescue operations.
So I have been formulating a dual purposed visit the last month and a half, with the intent of being more prepared for the research aspect than when we visited the National Archives in College Park Maryland three years ago. Since the museum is only open on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays 11:30 to 3:30 PM and we are only there for 5 days, my plan is to max out our time at the museum and spend much of the rest of the time at the beaches.
Our research focus will be on mainly three subject areas:
- Base operations and the atmosphere of the times.
- The different types of radar and IFF
- The story of Calvin D. Shoemaker. ( A possible witness & participant?)
In addition to or in lieu of the visit, I recommend the website as well. The NAS Ft. Lauderdale Museum does a wonderful job showcasing a wide collection of naval military ephemera of the period in photographs and a 360 degree Google virtual tour. Everything from training manuals & equipment & uniforms, personal letters and diaries, artwork and model aircraft all help to put the picture of the 1940’s Florida together so that students of history can get a glimpse of the times.
Still, I’m sure that it is not as complete a view as it is being there, so thanks to the current national economy and a couple of years of tax returns-Thank you Mr. President- we’re finally going to Florida! This January my research assistant and I will be flying to Ft. Lauderdale for Sun and search. Get it? Sun and surf; Sun and search…I mean you can’t be all about business right? Hopefully the weather will co-operate. Wish us luck.