June 01, 2009

Air France Plane

There isn't enough information known about this event as of the time of this writing. This just happened! I'm sure they will find it, but check this out: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31040692/?GT1=43001

It's an unsolved mystery in our modern day world!

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May 16, 2009

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart was born July 24, 1897. She was a well known American aviatrix and author. Amelia went missing on July 2, 1937 and was officially declared dead on January 5, 1939. She was the first woman to ever be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. An honor rightly given for being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Earhart set many flying records throughout her life, as well as authored several books about her experiences, and helped to form The Ninety-Nines, a group of all female pilots. On July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart disappeared near Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean while trying to attempt a circumnavigational flight of the globe. She was never heard from again. People are still fascinated with her legacy to this day.

Amelia was born in Atchison, Kansas and was somewhat of a tomboy even as a child. During World War I, she became a nurse's aide with the American Red Cross. Her obsession with all things flying didn't surface until later when she went to an air show with a friend at the Canadian National Exposition in Toronto. She began saving for flying lessons. Her first airplane was a used, yellow biplane that she named "The Canary". Earhart eventually became known as one of the best female pilots in the United States. In fact, she became somewhat of a celebrity, taking on endorsements to help finance her flying endeavors. It is interesting to note that she even took on a position as an associate editor at Cosmopolitan magazine, using the platform to bring about more public awareness for women in aviation.

In 1935, Amelia became a visiting faculty member of Purdue University, where she was a technical advisor in the Aeronautics Department and counselled women on career choices. The following year, Purdue financed a Lockheed L-10E Electra for her to fly. She began planning her world flight immediately. She chose two navigators to go with her on this journey: Captain Harry Manning and Fred Noonan, himself a noted American aviator, navigator, and sea captain. Their plan was for Noonan to navigate from Hawaii to Howland Island, where Manning would take over from there to Australia, and then Earhart would navigate the rest of the way on her own. A fourth person was later added to the team. Amelia asked a Hollywood stunt pilot by the name of Paul Mantz to join them as her technical advisor.

The group's first attempt at the trip came on March 17, 1937. They flew from Oakland, California to Honolulu, Hawaii where they had to abort the mission due to problems with the Lockheed's propeller. It was serviced at the US Navy's Luke Field in Pearl Harbor. They tried again three days later, with Mantz staying behind. They tried to take off from Luke Field, however, Earhart ground-looped, possibly from a blown tire, faulty landing gear, or even pilot error. The cause was uncertain, but the flight was called off and the airplane was shipped by sea to Lockheed for repairs.

During the repair process, Amelia and her husband and publicist, George Putnam, began planning the second attempt at the world flight. This time, a different route was planned due to changes in wind and weather patterns since the first attempt. Also, Fred Noonan would be the only person accompanying Earhart for the second attempt. They flew from Oakland, California to Miami, Florida. Upon landing in Miami, they publicly announced their intentions for the second attempt at the world flight. On June 1, 1937, Earhart and Noonan departed Miami and landed in Lae, New Guinea on June 29 after making numerous stops in South America, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. The remainder of their journey from New Guinea would all be over the Pacific Ocean.

On July 2, 1937, Earhart and Noonan set out at midnight from Lae toward Howland Island. Their last known confirmed position was near the Nukumanu Islands. The United States Coast Guard was stationed at Howland Island and was assigned with the task of communicating with Earhart's plane and guiding them to the island.

Due either to misunderstanding or error, the final approach to Howland Island was not a success. The Coast Guard reports hearing clear radio transmissions from Earhart, but she was apparently unable to hear any transmissions back from them. At 7:42 a.m. Earhart radioed "We must be on you, but cannot see you -- but gas is running low. Have been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet." A few moments later, another transmission was received by the Coast Guard in which Earhart said she could not hear them and asked them to transmit voice signals so that she could try to take a radio bearing. This transmission was the loudest yet, which suggested to the Coast Guard that Earhart and Noonan were in the immediate vicinity. However, they were unable to send any signals at the frequency that Earhart requested, so they sent them in Morse Code instead. Earhart radioed back that she received the Code but could not ascertain from where it came. Her last known transmission was received by the Coast Guard at 8:43 am: "We are on the line 157 337. We will repeat this message. We will repeat this on 6210 kilocycles. Wait....We are running on line north and south." This seemed to indicate that Earhart and Noonan believed that they were on course and near to Howland. The Coast Guard used oil burners to generate smoke signals but apparently neither Earhart nor Noonan saw them. After all contact was lost with Earhart's Electra, Pan American Airways reported receiving signals from several different locations, including Gardner Island that were thought could possibly have come from the downed plane. If this was the case, the pilots would have to have been on land with the plane since water would have shorted out the mechanism required to send the signals. These signals continued to be received for four or five days after known contact was lost with the Electra. Of course, search and rescue officials were trying to send signals to the plane, so those could have been confused with signals coming from the plane.

One hour after known contact with the Electra was lost, the Coast Guard and the US Navy undertook a search by air and sea with no success. One week after the disappearance, a naval plane flew over Gardner Island, which had been uninhabited for over forty years. The Navy's report of what they saw there included this: "Here signs of recent habitation were clearly visible but repeated circling and zooming failed to elicit any answering wave from possible inhabitants and it was finally taken for granted that none were there... At the western end of the island a tramp steamer (of about 4000 tons)... lay high and almost dry head onto the coral beach with her back broken in two places. The lagoon at Gardner looked sufficiently deep and certainly large enough so that a seaplane or even an airboat could have landed or takenoff [sic] in any direction with little if any difficulty. Given a chance, it is believed that Miss Earhart could have landed her aircraft in this lagoon and swum or waded ashore." The massive search came to an end on July 19, 1937. It had been the most expensive and extensive search ever conducted by the US military up to that point. However, at that time, their search methods were crude and may very well have been based on incorrect information. Despite their efforts, no physical evidence of Earhart, Noonan, or the Electra was found. Shortly after this, George Putnam, Earhart's husband, had a private search conducted. His efforts, too, were fruitless.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has put forth the belief that Earhart and Noonan may have flown on without any further radio transmissions for more than two hours, come upon Gardner Island, landed on a reef-flat, and eventually died. In fact, there is actually documented archaeological evidence to support this theory. In 1940, a British officer and pilot by the name of Gerald Gallagher, discovered a "skeleton...possibly that of a woman", along with an old sextant box, under a tree on the southeast corner of the island. The remains were sent to Fiji and in 1941 British authorities measured the bones in great detail and came to the conclusion that they came from a stocky male. The bones were unfortunately lost in Fiji. However, in 1998, forensic anthropologists analyzed the measurements taken, and they claimed that the bones belonged to a "tall white female of northern European ancestry." Amelia Earhart was 5'7. TIGHAR also found several artifacts upon searching Gardner Island. These items included: improvised tools, an aluminum aircraft body panel, an oddly cut piece of clear Plexiglas which was the exact thickness and curvature of an Electra window, and a size nine "Cat's Paw" brand shoe heel that dates from the 1930's. This is the type of footwear that Earhart wore in documented photos. Her shoe size has also been reported to have been 8 1/2 or 9. Some bronze ball bearings were also found along with a zipper pull which is believed to have come from a flight suit.

There are several other, unsupported theories as to what happened to Amelia Earhart. Here are some examples: she became a spy for President Roosevelt; the Electra crashed on Saipan Island and Earhart and Noonan were captured and executed; she became a Tokyo Rose; the Electra crashed near Rabaul and Earhart and Noonan perished in the crash; and, she assumed another identity.

Whatever the case, Amelia Earhart enjoyed a great deal of celebrity during her lifetime. That, combined with the mystery of her disappearance and apparent death at a young age has kept her in our minds ever since. She is regarded as a feminist icon and an inspirational tale for young girls. The home that Amelia Earhart was born in (her maternal grandfather's) is now maintained as the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum by the Ninety-Nines, the international, all female group of pilots that Earhart helped to found.

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May 01, 2009

Judge Crater

Joseph Force Crater was born on January 5, 1889. His date of death is unknown but he vanished August 6, 1930. Joseph Crater was a fairly new judge who sat on a bench in New York City. The last time it is known that he was seen, Crater was entering a taxi upon leaving a restaurant. Judge Crater's disappearance became one of the most famous in America. Indeed, he was often referred to as "The Missingest Man in New York".

Crater was from Pennsylvania and graduated from Columbia University. For most of his career he served as an associate justice of the New York Supreme Court. He had only just been appointed to the state bench by Franklin Roosevelt (who was governor at the time) 4 months before he vanished.

During the summer of 1930, Judge Crater and his wife were vacationing at their summer home at Belgrade Lakes in Maine. While there, the Judge received a strange telephone call, after which he told his wife that he must return to the city at once, "to straighten those fellows out". However, when he returned to the city, he left again straightaway on a trip to Atlantic City with his mistress, a showgirl by the name of Sally Lou Ritz. Crater had promised his wife that he would return to Maine by her birthday on August 9th. On August 6th, Judge Crater reported to his offices at the courthouse for a few hours, during which time he asked his assistant, a man by the name of Joseph Mara, to cash 2 checks for him that totalled $5,150. (That would be about the equivalent of $60,000 today). Around lunchtime, the Judge had Mara help him carry 2 locked briefcases to his apartment before giving Mara the rest of the day off.

Later that same day, Crater purchased 1 ticket to Dancing Partner, a Broadway musical playing that night at a nearby theater. Before the show, Judge Crater went to dinner with Sally Lou Ritz and another friend. After dinner, the Judge hailed a cab, telling his companions that he was headed to the musical. What happened to him after that remains a mystery to this day. Some theories include: he was murdered; he ran off with another woman - possibly Sally Lou Ritz; and that he had been involved in corrupt activity and was about to be caught, so he went into hiding.

His disappearance went strangely unnoticed for 10 days, at which time his wife began making calls to New York in search of him. A private search was conducted but no evidence of Crater was ever found. On September 3, 1930, the New York Police Department was notified and an official investigation was launched. The detectives assigned to the case discovered that before he vanished, Judge Crater's safe deposit box had been emptied and the two locked briefcases that Joseph Mara had helped carry to the Judge's apartment were missing. However, none of the leads in the investigation were able to conclusively answer the question as to the missing man's whereabouts. Crater was declared "dead in absentia" on June 6, 1939. His case was officially closed in 1979. It is interesting to note that Sally Lou Ritz also disappeared a few months after the Judge, and was never seen again, either.

On August 19, 2005, authorities revealed that they had received a letter from a woman identifying herself as Stella Ferrucci-Good. In the letter, she named a location in Brooklyn where the Judge had been buried. It is the site of the present day New York Aquarium. She also identified Crater's killers as 3 men. Two of them were New York City police officers, Robert Good (her husband) and Charles Burns. The other man was said to be Burns' brother, Frank, who was a New York City taxi driver. Police were able to confirm that human remains had indeed been found at that site in the 1950s. However, that was before the letter was discovered, and DNA testing was not available at that time. So the bones were almost immediately reburied in a field on Hart Island in New York. There are thousands of other unidentified souls buried in that same field. To locate the ones found in Brooklyn all those years ago would be almost impossible.

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April 26, 2009

Bobby Dunbar

On August 23, 1912 a 4 year old child disappeared in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. At the end of an 8 month long nationwide search, authorities believed that they had found the missing child. The Dunbars identified the boy as their son, Bobby Dunbar. However, another woman, Julia Anderson claimed that the child was not Bobby Dunbar, but was in fact her own son, Charles Anderson. A battle ensued, after which, custody was awarded to the Dunbars.

The real Bobby Dunbar had been on a fishing trip near Swayze Lake when he disappeared. When the child thought to be Bobby Dunbar was found, he was in the company of a man by the name of William Walters from Mississippi. Walters was convicted of kidnapping and America rejoiced over the return of Bobby Dunbar to his parents. When Julia Anderson came forward to claim the child for her own, she stated that she had allowed the boy to go with William Walters on a tinkering journey. At that time, Walters was granted an appeal for a new trial. However, the city never went through with the new trial due to concern for costs. Also, Julia Anderson was made out to be a woman "of loose morals", leading the courts to turn down her claim to custody of Bobby/Charles Dunbar/Anderson.

The Dunbars raised the boy as Bobby and he went on to have 4 children of his own. He died in 1966. After his death, one of his granddaughters, Margaret Cutright, became intrigued by the old mystery and began to conduct her own investigation. In 2004, her efforts led to conclusive DNA evidence that the boy raised as Bobby Dunbar was not a blood relation to the Dunbar family. This means that William Walters had been wrongfully convicted all those years ago. The fate of the real Bobby Dunbar is still unknown. Cutright's opinion is that he fell into the lake while on the fishing trip and was eaten by an alligator. I can't decide which is stranger: that no one knows for certain what happened to Bobby Dunbar, or that an unknown boy (possibly Charles Anderson) lived his whole life without knowing his own true identity.

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April 17, 2009

The Valentich Disappearance

Frederick Valentich was a 20 year old Australian pilot who disappeared on October 21, 1978. Valentich was flying a Cessna 182L over Bass Strait in Australia on his way to King Island, Tasmania when he vanished under mysterious circumstances. Just before his disappearance, Frederick reported from his radio that he had spotted a strange aircraft hovering dangerously close to his plane. The Valentich disappearance became the focus of the media's attention and one of the most famous documented UFO stories. No trace of Frederick Valentich or his airplane was ever found. The ensuing Department of Transport investigation concluded that the reasons for the disappearance could not be determined.

Valentich was a good pilot with a Class 4 instrument rating and 150 hours of flight experience. His mission that day was to log more flight experience as part of his pursuit to gain his commercial license. The weather was excellent for flying that day with good visibility and wind conditions. After about an hour into the flight, Valentich contacted the tower at Melbourne to inquire about other known aircraft in the vicinity. When he was told that there were no other known aircraft, Valentich reported seeing a large, unidentifiable aircraft passing over his own plane that bore four large lights on one side. He reported the unknown aircraft to have approached from the east at very high speed. He also stated his opinion that the pilot of the mysterious aircraft was "toying" with him. Due to its speed, the only thing he was able to ascertain about the craft was that it was long in appearance. He then came back on the radio to report that the thing was hovering over him, that it was shiny, and that it had a bright green light on it. At this point, the unknown craft "vanished", and Valentich began to question the tower as to military exercises in the area. The attendant at the tower in Melbourne was very confused and began asking Valentich lots of questions regarding the experience when Valentich reported that the thing had returned, approaching from the southwest this time. He stated that his intentions were to continue on to King Island. He went on to say, "it is hovering and it's not an aircraft". After this, strange noises could be heard over the radio waves for 17 seconds, at which time all contact with Frederick Valentich and his Cessna were lost.

A search and rescue mission was immediately undertaken by air and by sea and continued until October 25, 1978. The particular airplane that Valentich was piloting was equipped with a safety mechanism that allowed the aircraft to remain afloat for several minutes after a crash landing in the sea. No trace of any aircraft was ever discovered. The Department of Transport even launched an official investigation into the case but was unable to determine the cause of the disappearance. The strange sounds that were heard over the radio at the end of Valentich's last transmission were also analyzed to no avail. Researchers were not able to determine any kind of pattern to the noises.

There have been many theories as to what happened to Frederick Valentich, but no answers. There has actually been an "update" to this mysterious happening. Many people, however, question the validity of the information that is known about this update. Decide for yourself. You can read about it here.

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April 11, 2009

Foo Fighters

Foo fighters were first spotted and named by Allied aircraft pilots during World War II. Foo fighters were basically unidentified flying objects (also described as "mysterious aerial phenomena") seen in the skies over the Pacific Ocean. First reported in November 1944, the foo fighters were initially thought to be a weapon of the enemy. However, the mysterious experiences were also reported by Axis forces and the cause remains unknown to this day.

The foo fighters were reported to be fast-moving, round, glowing objects that would follow aircraft. Sometimes they were said to resemble Christmas lights and pilots claimed that they seemed to toy with them before vanishing. Pilots reported that these objects would fly in formation with their aircraft and seemed to be under intelligent control. Foo fighters have never been reported to display hostile behavior. No aircraft could outmaneuver them and they could not be shot down. However, on one occasion, the pilot of a B-29 aircraft did manage to hit one, at which time the foo fighter burst into several pieces and fell to the earth below, setting several buildings afire.

Foo fighters have also been reported by ships at sea and appear to be invisible to radar. One theory is that these events could have been caused by ball lighting. Another is extraterrestrials. No one knows for sure.

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March 31, 2009

Technical Difficulties

Sorry for not posting in a while - I'm having some technical difficulties (I caught a virus). I'll have some new info up in a couple days. Stay tuned.