The Lost Patrol
SEE ALSO: The Loss of Flight 19 & The Lost Patrol
This actually led to the students arguing with Taylor on the probable location of the flight. Taylor was not as sure of the area as some of the students. Fact 2: The patrol was to conduct a low-level bombing mission at Hens and Chickens Shoal, south of the Grand Bahamas. Some sources say Lt. Taylor tried to get out of doing the flight. Some believe he was hung over from a party the night before. No one else in the duty rotation felt like switching with him. This is more myth than fact. Taylor may have tried to get out of the flight, but it is extremely doubtful that he was ill and there is no strong evidence that he tried to get out of the flight.
Fact 3: Soon after taking off, Taylor's compass went out, but he decided to fly by "dead reckoning" and "Pilotage".
Fact 4: Taylor got screwed up because of his dead reckoning flying. It has been assumed he was not wearing a watch (something that has been assumed by many because he was always asking his crew what time it was). After several minutes of flying in circles, he saw a landmark that he thought he recognized. Taylor lived in the Florida Keys, and he mistakenly identified an island of the Bahamas as the island he lived on. He then issued an order for the flight to fly due north until they hit the mainland of Florida. It was getting late and the weather had been getting progressively worse. After about an hour of flying north and not hitting the mainland, Taylor issued an order to fly east. He assumed that they were now over the Gulf of Mexico.
Fact 5: Flight 19 was in continuous contact with Base throughout the flight, up to this time, and the tower was aware that Taylor was flying without a compass. They asked Taylor to switch over to the emergency radio channel, but Taylor refused because one of his planes had a faulty receiver and he was afraid that if he changed frequencies he would lose contact with the plane. The weather was now a major storm; visibility was poor. Taylor started to lose contact with the tower and would continue to be in and out of contact until he was presumed ditched in the sea.
Fact 6: Because of Taylor's refusal to switch to the emergency channel, Fort Lauderdale was picking up a lot of static on the channel. It was also hard for the other radio stations along the coast to get a good fix on Flight 19. If Taylor had switched to the emergency channel, a fix could have been made almost immediately.
Fact 7: It was raining: the weather was not clear and the sun could not aleways be seen.
Fact 8: A fix was made on the planes, which put them around three hundred miles east of Jacksonville, Florida. When Taylor had thought he was lost, he was actually on course. If one were to back-track Taylor's flight plan from the point where he thought he was lost, you will end up just South of the Bahamas, not the Florida Keys.
Fact 9: Several of the crew members were heard informing Taylor that if they headed West, they would hit Florida, however, because of their adherence to military discipline, they followed their leader.
Fact 10: Fort Lauderdale sent several messages to Flight 19. The flight was unable to receive the messages because of their distance from Lauderdale and all the interference from other radio traffic. If Taylor had switched to the emergency channel several other station could have contacted him. The other coastal stations did not have the frequencies necessary to contact Taylor's group.
Fact 11: The Mariner was not the only plane dispatched to search for Flight 19. It was the only one that blew up, almost on take off. The explosion of the Mariner was seen by several people in the area. Afterwards, an oil slick and debris were found. The Mariners was notorious for having fuel leaks and were known as "flying gas tanks"; it was seen exploding 23 minutes after take off, in the exact location where it's plotted course would have taken it.
Fact 12: Avengers may float for up to two minutes, if you're lucky, you make a perfect water landing, and the sea is calm. You might be able to get out of the plane if the sea is calm, you are uninjured from the crash (you don't land an Avenger like you would a sea-plane), and there is light. Ditching in the sea is dangerous even under ideal conditions. Flight 19 was flying in a rainstorm at night, over rough seas, with pilots who had no experience at ditching a plane; The pilots were recent transfers from the Army to the Navy. The planes would have sunk like rocks if they ran out of fuel and had to ditch. It is doubtful from the last few radio messages, that had the planes decided to ditch together, the individual crews would have been close enough to offer support to each other or rescue injured pilots.
Fact 13: It is common practice, upon the termination of any naval search, to conclude by stating that travelers in the area should remain on the alert. This order is never cancelled because it is part of termination orders. The Navy is not expecting to find Flight 19.
Fact 14: The planes had flown far enough out to sea to have placed them off of the Continental Shelf. They were no longer flying over the shallow Caribbean water, but over water thousands instead of hundreds of feet deep. It is difficult to find sunken debris in such deep water.
You decide. Is this a good story to tell around the campfire or this a mystery that remains unsolved?
*Note 1, Flight 19
Any comments on the nature of Taylor's Health that morning is pure speculation. Some people claim that if he was indeed sick then he could have simply reported to sick-bay and not flown that day. In almost every tale of tragedy such as this, you will have witnesses saying the victim had tried to get out of the mission because of some dark forboding. Such was the case of Flight 19. There is not definitive information in the official reports clearly saying Taylor had tried to get out of the flight. Return
Note 2, Flight 19