NOW HERE THIS!! – A RESEARCH PRIMER FOR FLIGHT-19 ENTHUSIASTS

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.

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C.C. Taylor and Possible PTSD?

Is it possible that Lt. Charles C.Taylor could have been suffering some kind of medical malady while leading the Flight-19 training mission on December 5th, 1945? It is a plausible theory. One that needs to be considered. Weather or not he was suffering from the after effects of a late night on the town, or experiencing a legitimate emergency, all factors of his physical health and history should be examined in our investigation of the Flight-19 mystery.

In most of the descriptions of the ill fated story, including the official 1946 Navy report, Taylor; a seasoned combat veteran and experienced pilot, was the cause of, or at least responsible for the loss of the five aircraft and crews.  From a leadership stand point the conclusion made by the naval accident review board, is easy to understand. From the little evidence available all we know is that Taylor was in charge. Therefore: he was responsible for his men no matter what happened. Simple.

But ironically the Navy in the 56 facts and 56 opinions of the report while blaming him for the accident also left room for speculation about his health during the flight. Not making any attempt to interpret his medical or psychological mindset other than to make a blanket statement about his “Temporary Mental Confusion resulting in faulty judgement.” (Pg. 144 #44 &#45) the review board does its best to be impartial, but ends up sounding obtuse in it’s determination.

The report is worded in such a way to suggest all the pilots in the flight were , “physically qualified and temperamentally adapted for flight before take off (Pg.141 #11) and groups Taylor in with the rest of the pilots .  So on one hand they say he was perfectly fine to fly and the next they infer there was some kind of aberration in his psychological or physiological ability to function while in flight.  Sounds fair right? But they don’t mention the evidence leading up to that conclusion.

Either way, there is no doubt that there was something unusual in his demeanor that day seventy one years ago.  The book Discovery of Flight-19 by Jon Myhre; one reflecting many first hand personal interviews of those involved in the event: goes into detail regarding Taylor’s back ground, and his actions previous to, and on that day.  Charles was a natural pilot with a generally uncanny way of determining the correct direction to return to base, without instrumentation. Ultimately his goal was  to transition to a fighter squadron at some point after his current assignment.

Myhre also details how, according to another pilot close to Taylor; Howard Williams, C.C. had a bad feeling about the flight that day.  So much so that he made a call to his mother the day before to discuss it.  We will probably never learn the details of the conversation, but it seems clear above all; he was not being himself.

During Navigational Problem One;  just after the first leg and bombing run had been completed, something happened to Charles C. Taylor making him unable to focus completely on the routine directional tasks at hand. It is easy to speculate about his condition from just the record of radio transmissions between the planes and ground stations. But the Navy stopped short. So if we want answers we must take a stab at the his ‘mental confusion’.

Medically speaking, confusion can come about from any number of reasons ranging from, altitude sickness, to a heart attack, head injuries to de-hydration and to post-traumatic stress disorder. Formerly known as battle fatigue or shell-shock, PTSD injuries may stay dormant for months to years after an event, and outwardly visible signs can be hard to detect.

So can we build a case for PTSD?  Initially we might think he would be a prime candidate categorically; having been in combat and secondly ditching his aircraft at sea and surviving, not once but twice! Avengers were known to sink quite rapidly even in the calmest seas with all hands on board. The stress associated with the need to get out, must have been intense.

According to the Mayo Clinic “PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in emotional reactions. ” From what we know of Taylor’s actions and the symptoms of the disorder it seems like he may have had at least two symptoms in the last two categories. Hyper vigilance or(being overly aware of possible danger) and  Hypersensitivity, having difficulty concentrating, startling easily, having a physical reaction (rapid heart rate or breathing, increase in blood pressure)

Lets examine facts from the case;

  • He had unofficially and officially asked to be excused from the training flight that morning, but gave no reason for the request. He had called his mom as well.             (Hyper-vigilance)
  • He gave the wrong radio call sign when responding initially by radio as MT-28 not FT-28 and had to be asked to correct it. (Hypersensitivity) Confusion
  • At one point he believes they are over the Florida Keys when in fact they were hundreds of miles away. He continues to return to this belief even after persuaded otherwise. (Hypersensitivity) Confusion
  • He could not determine which direction the Sun had set. In other words he couldn’t find the coast line and the general westerly direction. (Hypersensitivity) Confusion Furthermore; it seemed like his students knew which way was West.
  • Late in the mission, he gives or has control of the flight taken away from him seemingly by the next senior pilot. Later on he regains control of the flight still disoriented.

So why focus on PTSD above all else?  If there was some kind of medical emergency in Ft-28 (Taylors plane) could it have been a heart attack or embolism?   Can we rule out everything else?

In this process of elimination, its fair to say, it is not very likely to have been the case for some other trauma because from what we know of both heart attacks, strokes, and embolisms, Taylor would not have been able to communicate over the radio let alone perform the necessary functions to operate a plane. And in the end the planes stayed in the air close to 4 more hours beyond their projected return time. Even a panic attack would have likely caused an inability to coordinate his faculties.

No. Whatever ailment he was experiencing, it left his faculties intact enough to fly the plane. From what we are told by Myhre, Taylor was not a partier, so a hangover is unlikely, and it was December in Florida which makes dehydration from the heat possible but also unlikely. He may have suffered a head injury during one of his flights or ditches but symptoms of this should have been visible during his briefings or at least his last medical exam in Miami, earlier that year. Since, C.C. lived off post in a house shared with a couple of other pilots his behavior was not easily noted. Even if there was something unusual in his routine it seems no one was willing to discuss it.

But why would he want to cover up any problems anyway? Again we can only speculate, but while there were many veterans trying to get out of the service, there was also a small percentage of those wanting to make a career out of the military. Taylor was in this later group. And it only seems to reason that he wouldn’t want anything to prevent his desire to fly, especially in fighter planes.

In the end we cannot prove any medical condition simply as there are not enough facts. In addition Taylor was known as a cool customer under pressure, so in that light its hard not to give the man the benefit of the doubt.  Still it does make one wonder?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

N.A.S Ft. Lauderdale Training Schedule for, Weds Dec 5th 1945.

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.