Found Wreckage May Shed Light on Missing 1945 Aircraft Patrol

  • Caleb Downing

Image Courtesy of War History Online

The date is December 5th, 1945.

You are a Navy pilot assigned to Flight 19 under the command of Lieutenant Charles Carroll Taylor. Nothing spectacular was on the docket for the day, only a routine navigation and combat training exercise. Little did you know, this would be your last flight.

On that fateful day back in 1945, five Navy TBM Avenger torpedo bombers took to the skies on what was supposed to be a routine training flight. The planned flight plan took the bombers eastward headed away from Miami Florida where they would turn north, drop their ordinance, and then turn back west toward home. Everything went to plan… until it didn’t. Unless otherwise noted, source material for this story is from War History Online.

Sometime after dropping their ordinance, the navigation system on the lead aircraft began to malfunction. After encountering an unexpected weather front that brought heavy winds, rain, and cloud cover,  Lieutenant Taylor made the executive decision to turn the flight northeast.

This decision was not the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for aircraft operating in the Atlantic. Pilots who flew in this area were instructed to turn west and head toward the sunset if they ever got disoriented or lost.

It is believed that if Flight 19 had turned their heading to the west, they would have found land and eventually regained their course.

Lieutenant Taylor believed that they had been blown down into the Gulf by the foul weather and by turning northeast, they would reach land. Radio communication between the Flight 19 crew indicated that not all members of the flight agreed with Lieutenant Taylor’s call and that one plane may have broken off and attempted to make the return flight alone. 

A massive search was immediately launched but nothing was located. No bodies, no aircraft – at least that’s what the official story states. There have been several independent investigations that have attempted to locate this missing flight but all efforts eventually reach a wall of silence. 

One such “wall of silence” was encountered by a lawyer out of Florida by the name of Graham Stikelether in 1963. While hunting in a Florida swamp, Stikelether discovered wreckage matching the aircraft from Flight 19. Not only did Stikelether find the wreckage, but the deceased crew of the aircraft was still on board. After reporting the wreckage to the authorities, Stikelether reached out to a contact of his at the Pentagon who instructed him to drop the case. 

To this day no one has conclusively proven what happened to the men of Flight 19. This occurrence did take place near the infamous “Bermuda Triangle” and with the government closing the door on this case in the manner they have, it does appear something is amiss. 

So…what do you think happened on that day in 1945? Share this out on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!

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