The Creepiest Disappearance of WW2

The Creepiest Disappearance of WW2 | World War Wings Videos

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On December 5, 1945, 14 experienced pilots aboard 5 U.S. Navy Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers were participating in a combat and navigation training exercise when they suddenly disappeared after flying into heavy cloud cover. The group, known as Flight 19, was never heard of again. 

Not Amateurs

That day, 14 pilots were gathered at the Naval Air Station in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to participate in an overwater navigation training flight. 

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The flight leader was Lt. Charles Taylor with almost 2500 flying hours, and the crew, while not as experienced as Taylor, were not amateurs, most of them accumulated 300 hours in the air and had to complete one more practice before graduation. 

Flight 19

Training squadron Flight 19 consisted of five US Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers.

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Flight 19 was asked to carry out low-level bombing practice, then overfly the Grand Bahama Island, turn left, and return back. The planes were reported to be in good condition and fuel tanks full. 

Disoriented

The initial part of the exercise went by successfully. However, 40 minutes later, things started to go off course.

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After flying into heavy cloud cover, the Lieutenant in charge reported that his compasses malfunctioned and that other pilots were disoriented, so they ended up flying further away over the Atlantic. 

After that, no further radio transmissions were received back in the base, and despite holding one of the most extensive air and sea search missions, Flight 19 was never heard of again. 

Declared Missing

Many believed that the torpedo bombers ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea, east of Daytona Beach. However, pilots and the general public are mystified by the fact that no wreckage has been found. 

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According to investigations, it was suggested that Taylor’s compasses had failed and confused Abaco Island in the Northern Bahamas with the Key West Islands. Fitted with the idea that they were in the Gulf of Mexico, the Lieutenant led the group out to sea past the bomber’s endurance.

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When the squadron leader decided to turn west, the broken compass led him northwest, parallel to Florida. 

Lost Patrol

Flight 19 was named as the Lost Patrol and its disappearance remains one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history.

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Several books published after the incident claimed that Flight 19 disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle consisting of 500,000 square miles of ocean off Florida’s southeastern tip – and legend has it that compasses turned erratic in the area and dozens of planes and ships disappeared there. 

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