The Bermuda Triangle Click to view at Amazon
The Disappearance of Flight 19
by Jack DeMolay
(JR. Graphic Mysteries)
One day in 1945, five US Air Force bombers flew out to sea on a routine mission - and disappeared without a trace. Were they victims of a supernatural force? Explore the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- Age Range: 7 and up
- Paperback: 24 pages
- Publisher: Rosen Publishing Group (August 1, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1404221573
- ISBN-13: 978-1404221574
Thank you to Mary Kelly
from Bedford, Texas, who donated this book to the Museum! While on a Librarian's Convention in Fort Worth, Mary found this illustrated book for children.
Training at NAS Fort Lauderdale
To NAS Ft. Lauderdale Historical Association:
"Hello, my name is Edward M. Steidler and I was in training at the NAS Fort Lauderdale in WW2. I volunteered for the Navy at the age of 17 and applied for the V-6 program which was the Aircrew. Got accepted, then on October 5, 1944 I was shipped to Millington, Tennessee by train. This was the Naval Air Technical Training Center where we took our boots and learned how to take code, etc. The next step was Air Gunnery School at Miami, Florida. Finally, we went to NAS Fort Lauderdale to Air operations where we were assigned a Pilot and became an Aircrew. Here we combined all the skills including torpedoeing ships, ditching procedures, etc. I was assigned to pilot Harry Allen III, from Richmond, VA. I became the belly gunner, and John Payne was the turret gunner.
I thought our training was inconsistent, in that operating the radio gear was skimpy. The TBM had a radio setup called GP which had several coils that you plugged into the radio to set your frequency. Most of us felt that particular session was not very thorough. All during this training, John Payne was chronically airsick and would throw up. Usually on me. I didn't complain because he was the only support for his mother and she needed his flight pay.
Remembering Flight 19 incident: On 5 December 1945, the Flight 19 incident occurred. The day was warm, clear, and beautiful. About supper time, a front came through and it became bitterly cold. We were told the lost flight would be in the water about 7pm. I remember how sorry I felt for them ditching in the dark, and even if they got into their rafts they would be soaking wet and freezing cold. Our crew took part in the search. As I remember, the total search was 5 days, and our crew flew 3 of the 5 days. Never saw a trace of them.
Hurricane Incident: I don't remember the dates, but a hurricane struck south Florida and destroyed a Blimp Hanger I believe, located in Hollywood. The personnel at the blimp base was set free and NAS Fort Lauderdale was to furnish guards, and we were asked to volunteer. I said I'm not volunteering for anything, but I was watching a movie when an SP came in and selected 12 of us for something. We were put in a dump truck and taken to the blimp base. The local officials put all their equipment in this immense hanger which was destroyed and burned up. The metal equipment was melted. All the food at the blimp base was spoiling, so the mess cooks set the grandest table of all time. From steak to lobster, but we couldn't even make a dent. On the way back to NAS Fort Lauderdale after several days, we were driven through a black district. The people were sitting in chairs out in their yards, their houses were gone, and the mosquitoes were coming out.
Transfer out: My pilot transferred to dive bombers which were a two-place aircraft. He kept me and let Payne go. We went into training near Virginia Beach, VA. We were assigned to Bomber Squadron 3, which was on the USS Yorktown. It was proposed to replace the SBD Dauntless dive-bombers with the newer SB2C Helldiver dive-bomber, but the Yorktown got sunk at Midway before the transfer was accomplished. The VB-3 planes were scattered over the surviving carriers, so VB-3 disappeared. We never got another carrier assignment so we stayed in training until discharge.
I have included my picture where I look awful young. I am 86 now and in fair health. I have been happily married for 65 years."
Aviation Radioman 3C
Holding a practice bomb in the NAS Fort Lauderdale area.
Motto: “DEFEND THE FORT!”
The Flight 19 Soccer Club visited the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum Flight 19
is an independent supporters group based in Fort Lauderdale/Broward County, FL, exclusively supporting the professional soccer club team The Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
The group was conceived in 2010 to stir up support in the area, in anticipation of the return of the legendary Strikers and North American Soccer League in 2011. Their mission is to rally passionate support. On game-days the group works together to provide an electric atmosphere at Lockhart Stadium, home of the Strikers, by providing a home-field advantage for the Strikers. Through singing, chanting, tifo displays, waving flags, and banging drums for the full 90 minutes, this support group strives to help their team get the win in every game. From their Official Website: "The group is named in honor of Flight 19, a squadron of 5 TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that took off from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale (now the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport) in 5 December of 1945, disappearing in perhaps the most famous incident associated with the Bermuda Triangle. Our crest is based on the roundel insignia found on WWII era US Military Aircraft, the classic NASL style soccer ball and the triangular shape of, you guessed it, the Bermuda Triangle. The story of Flight 19 is a part of the history of Fort Lauderdale, and considering the long time home of the Strikers, Lockhart Stadium, is situated on land that was once part of an airport built to train WWII Naval pilots, and is still under the flight path of FTL Executive Airport, we feel it is a fitting name to represent our efforts to honor Fort Lauderdale and our rich history."Website: http://www.flight-19.com
Lt. Jg. O'brien with his TBM Avenger Gunner and Radioman crew. Part of training Flight # 22 at NASFL.
From Lt. Joe O'Brien, USN WWII, Aviator of TBM's
Trained at the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale in 1945
"Thought you might enjoy enclosed photos. You may recall I was talking to one of the planes on Flight 19 as I returned from FAM HOP. I also remember that I had been first pilot to fly one of the TBM's that would later be used by Flight 19 at the NASFL (BuNo: 45714). I had ferried it from the General Motors factory in Trenton, N.J over to the Franklyn Field in Norfolk, Virginia in 1944."
Observation: Lt. O'Brien's says that on 12 April 1944, his flight log diary shows he ferried TBM Avenger BuNo: 45714 from the factory to NAS Norfolk. Then a year later he went on to train at the NAS in Fort Lauderdale. The serial number would be FT- 3 which was part of Flight 19 Squadron. FT-3 was piloted by Navy Ensign Joseph T. Bossi, with crew S1c Herman A. Thelander as gunner, and S1c Burt E. Baluk as radioman.
On 5 Dec 1945, Lt. Joe O'Brien says that he had left around 2:00pm for the exercise (FAM HOP = familiar hop), and was returning around 4:00pm to the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale where he was training, when he overheard Flight 19 on the radio. He sensed some trouble and tried to offer suggestions of flying into the sun in a westerly direction, but he had no idea they were in serious trouble, and the signals were getting weaker. He thinks now that if they were flying over the Gulf of Mexico instead of the Atlantic Ocean, that advice would have not worked. He was then ordered to land at NASFL, where he later learned of their disappearance.
Second row on Lt. O'Brien's log book for April 1944 shows entry for TBM BuNo: 45714
Woman driving truck during WWII. Photo from the Alexander Turnbull Library.
"Flight 19 - A Remembrance" by Keith Parker"This story was told and retold to me through the years by my mother, always with great reverence:
A few months after World War II my father was still serving with the Navy in the Pacific and my mother, Cora Jane Parker, was the District Manager for Cities Service Oil Company. On 5 December 1945, she had just made a delivery of AV gas to the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale and was looking for the duty Lieutenant to sign for it. When she couldn't find him she asked around and was told he was in the Radio Room. She had been there before. She went there and when she entered, she was hit by an eerie sense of quiet, unlike the busy chatter that normally filled it. It was hushed and no one was speaking. The only sound was the crackle and static of the radio speakers. When the Lieutenant signed for the fuel delivery my mother asked about the strange silence in the Radio Room. The Lieutenant explained that a flight of torpedo bombers on a training mission had disappeared and they were waiting for any signs of transmissions from them.
Later that evening when my mother returned home she ran into a pretty young neighbor who complained to her that her date had 'stood her up' and went on to fault him in particular-- and flyboys in general-- for taking advantage of local girls. When my mother informed her that her date was probably missing in action and very likely would not be coming back, the young girl was saddened, embarrassed by the way she had been acting, and quickly changed her tune. Now, like many young women during the War, her man would not be coming home to her."With remembrance,Keith ParkerObservation: T
he United States home front during World War II
, supported the war effort in many ways, including a wide range of volunteer efforts. Many women joined the workforce to replace men who had joined the forces. Gender roles were dramatically altered from then on. The increased likelihood that a woman was working outside the home in addition to her homemaking responsibilities was certain. Many women worked in volunteer organizations connected with the war effort. The above letter sheds a small light not only on the events surrounding Flight 19
, but also on women helping at the home front during WWII.
Image Copyright © David Baum
67th Anniversary US Navy Flight 19 Memorial
Honoring the WWII servicemen
During WWII, the Military had to mobilize with speed and urgency, thus the number of casualties at military bases was on the high side. A sad but equally historic note is the fact that 95 Americans lost their lives at the NAS Fort Lauderdale base during 1942-1945— the three most intensive training years of the war. The Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Historical Association proudly salutes all of the service members who perished while serving at this naval air station.
Memorial Ceremony Program Sample
- Click for larger view -
The historic WWII Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum hosted the 67th Anniversary of the US Navy Flight 19 Memorial, on 5 December 2012. The Master of Ceremony was Donald Prichard, Vice President of the NASFL Historical Association. In attendance were Broward County Aviation Department Directors, several historians and local politicians, including Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca and retired Mayor Jim Naugle, whose uncle Thomas "Tex"
Ellison was a flight Instructor at this naval base. In all, about 160 people attended the ceremony. Among the attendees were many veterans of wars
, five of them were personnel of the former NAS Fort Lauderdale
: Lt. David White
, TBM flight Instructor who participated in the search for Flight 19; George Lord,
Aviation gunner's mate on TBMs; Henry Torres, Sr.
, who was in charge of the Machine Shop at the Beach Target Range; Floyd Johnson, TBF Gunner; and Allan McElhiney
USNR aboard the USS Asheville, a ship that tested weapons for this naval base. Also, Officers and crewmen of the USS Taylor
(FFG-50) The Proud Defender
participated with Commander Dennis Volpe, as well as members of the Stranahan High School Marine Corps JROTC Color Guard. The vocalist for this occasion was professional singer and entertainer Frank Loconto and the bugler assembly and TAPS was performed by Robert Young. This event was covered by the media. Honoring Allan McElhiney
This Museum began with the vision of one man, who was a sailor in World War II, aboard the USS Asheville: Allan McElhiney
, who in the course of more than 30 years has compiled a vast amount of documents, photographs, articles and artifacts for the institution he founded. This Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places, the only military museum in Broward county, and the only remaining WWII military building left in Broward county, thanks to his efforts. We salute you Allan McElhiney.
Historian Anthony Atwood & NASFL Museum President Allan McElhiney. Photo by Minerva Bloom.
Gallery of Images Copyright © David Baum Click for larger view
Group gathering 5 December, 2012
"We get together with friends every year on December 5th for a little social gathering and a minute of silence
in remembrance of the soldiers lost on the Flight 19 mission." --Bjørn Madsen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Bjørn Madsen, a Physician from Denmark visited the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum, and we learned that for 30 years, him and a group of friends and their children, have been holding a memorial ceremony for Flight 19.He writes:"I am back in Denmark after a fantastic holiday in Florida. A big THANK YOU to all at the museum for showing me around and presenting all the information and the exhibits. Especially, thanks to David Epstein for sharing some of his memories and taking me on a little tour around the museum. As I mentioned, (the memorial ceremony) started as an impulse when we were all living at university campus, when some of the guys read about the mystery of the lost airplanes. From there it has grown into a tradition - now, 30 years later, we still get together every year (and now with several children joining the tradition !). It was an experience for me to see the actual Flight 19 monument and the museum in Ft. Lauderdale. I have taken lots of photos that I look forward to share with my friend in just a few days."
December 5, 2012:"Here in Denmark we were 16 joining together on Dec. 5th, 2012. I see some of the friends regularly, others just turn up this one time every year. Naturally, we have to do things a little differently. Everything is strictly INDOORS, since this is early winter in Denmark. We had a bit of snow in the air outside (this weekend we expect down to -15 C during the night), and a couple of guys were missing because they were sick with flu. We don´t have a monument - but we DO have model airplanes, and the reproduction poster of one of the Bob Jenny paintings. We get together late in the afternoon (most are working daytime) and keep a moment of silence around 8 p.m. (which with the 6 hour time difference follows very close to your ceremony in Ft. Lauderdale). It seems like we have had some success in bringing the spirit on to the next generation ! One of the guys told me that his youngest daughter (age 13) had chosen Flight 19 as the subject for one of her school projects, and another young guy had also written a school essay inspired by the Flight 19 story."
--Bjørn MadsenThank you Bjørn
for your efforts and to all the Group. It is wonderful to see that you all are teaching the younger generation about this time in history. We welcome you as our new member! Thank you for your support and we hope to see you again!Click to enlarge
USS Taylor (FFG-50) The Proud Defender. Photo by Minerva Bloom.
Members of the USS Taylor participated in the 67th Anniversary of Flight 19 Memorial Ceremony
this past December 5th. Commander Dennis Volpe USN, the Commanding Officer with a crew of about 30 sailors and Officers got a tour of the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale
Museum. They enjoyed themselves in the company of WWII veterans and other dignitaries such as the Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Jack Seiler, among many others. Commander Volpe spoke to the large crowd that attended the Ceremony; while chosen sailors rang the memorial bell and placed a symbolic wreath. On the following day, several WWII veterans members of this Museum, were invited for a tour of the USS Taylor docked at Port Everglades. The veterans had an emotional tour of the Proud Defender, and marveled at all the advances in the military. The group got to meet more of its crew, and to top it all, they were given wonderful souvenirs of the ship.Thank you Crew and Captain of the USS Taylor for the special tour of your ship, and for making the Flight 19 Ceremony a special one! We salute you!And THANK YOU to ENS Caitlyn Levinson
, Public Affairs Officer, and LTJG Brandon Lee Whigham
, Training Officer of the USS TAYLOR for the transportation and reception!
The USS Taylor (FFG-50)
, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, is a ship of the United States Navy named for Commander Jesse J. Taylor (1925–1965)
, a naval aviator who was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously for his heroism in the Vietnam War.
Taylor's keel was laid down by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine, on 5 May 1983. She was launched 5 November 1983, and commissioned 1 December 1984 in Bath Maine. The ship deployed to Northern Europe as part of the Standing Naval Forces, Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT) in 1987 and the Persian Gulf in 1988 and 1990. Participated in Operation Earnest Will. In 1993, the TAYLOR changed homeport to Mayport, FL. As of 2005, is part of Destroyer Squadron 14. In August 2008 Taylor entered the Black Sea conducting a pre-planned routine visit to the Black Sea region to interact and exercise with NATO partners Romania and Bulgaria. It joined ships from Poland, Germany and Spain. In December 2009, TAYLOR celebrated 25 years in Commission.
"The Lost Squadron" by Bob Jenny
“The leader was an experienced combat pilot, these were reliable planes in good condition, and it was a routine training mission. We were alerted to look around the islands and to keep searching the water for debris. They just vanished. We had hundreds of planes out looking, and we searched over land and water for days, and nobody ever found the bodies or any debris.” - Lt. David White, NASFL Flight Instructor, participated in the search for Flight 19.
5 December, 1945: Flight 19 disappears into the Bermuda Triangle
Flight 19 was the designation of five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that disappeared on December 5, 1945 during a U.S Navy overwater navigation training flight from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale, Florida. All 14 airmen on the flight were lost, as were all 13 crew members of a PBM Mariner flying boat assumed to have exploded in mid-air while searching for the flight. It was one of the largest air and sea searches in history. Flight 19 remains one of the great aviation mysteries.
Burt Edward Baluk, Jr.
Joseph Tipton Bossi
William Earl Lightfoot
George William Stivers, Jr.
Howell Orrin Thompson
PBM-5 Rescue Seaplane
- 67th Anniversary - Memorial Ceremony, for Flight 19 the Mariner and the 95 servicemen that perished at the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale during World War II.
- Ceremony is Open to the public.
- WHEN: DECEMBER 5, 2012 - AT 1:00 PM - at the NASFL MUSEUM
Jeep Willys and a WWII Fire Engine will also be showcased.
- Open House Party
WHEN: December 22, 2012 - from 12:00 to 5 pm - at the NASFL MUSEUM
- A covered dish or desert is appreciated, refreshment will be available -
Attention: CD copies
of the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Flight 19 Package of images, documents and manuals from the Museum Archives (177 items) from Flight 19 have been scanned and are available in High Resolution (300dpi) for research and personal use only. All proceeds will benefit the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum. Pay safely and securely with PayPal. Credit cards accepted. Please allow 7 -9 days for delivery. Production Companies please contact the Museum for a release form.
PLEASE NOTE: ITEMS ARE NON-REFUNDABLE
- Domestic orders: $20.00 (plus $4 for shipping & handling) per digital CD with cover.
- International orders: $30.00 (plus $4 for shipping & handling) per digital CD with cover.
This CD Package contains the following:
- History of the Bermuda Triangle "Sea Mystery at our back door" (the first article to make mention of the Bermuda Triangle).
- Synopsis, Description and History Background.
- Name and rank of Flight 19 and PBM Mariner Crew.
- Avenger Aircraft Paint Scheme at Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale.
- Headlines, Naval articles, News Articles.
- The PBM-5 Mariner from NAS Banana River.
- Documents from the Navy transcript.
- Documents from the Air & Sea Rescue Log.
- Call Signs Documents.
- Documents from the Board Opinion.
- Letters: "Mental Aberration" "Exoneration" and "Case Closed"
- Charts: Surface Weather, Navigation Problems and Nautical charts.
- 5 plausible Theories.
- Images: Flight 19 crew.
- Images: Witness stories & search and rescue individuals.
- Images: Aerial Photographs of Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale WWII.
- Images: Link Trainer building (where they learned to fly the Avenger).
- Images: Flight 19 Memorial.
- Official Accident Reports.
- Syllabus: Pilot Training, Pilot Avenger handbook and NASFL WWII - Naval base Organization & Training.