The Last Known Whereabouts of the White Bird

21 May 21 57 Comments

The disappearance of L’Oiseau Blanc in 1927 is one of the enduring mysteries of aviation history. The pilots eventually achieved their goal of changing aviation history, but certainly not in the way that they had hoped. It has only just come to my attention that I haven’t written about this mystery here, so I hope you don’t mind that I plagiarise myself with one of the chapters from Without a Trace.

It always strikes me as odd that this case is not well known in the English-speaking world, certainly not compared to the loss of Amelia Earhart fourteen years later, even though the search effort is claimed to have dwarfed hers in terms of money, manpower and area searched.

In fact, in France the interest has been high enough that The French Minister of Transport re-opened the case in 1984 and that report, translated and made available for reference as a part of a project to discover more (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery: Project Ghost), gives us a great source of information about Nungesser and Coli’s flight, leaning heavily on the original investigation at the time.

However, even with modern technology, it is impossible to piece together exactly what happened. Although there have been many attempts to establish the route and find some trace of the aircraft wreckage, so far no one has been successful.

The story starts with the Orteig Prize which was offered by New York hotel owner Raymond Orteig in 1919.

Gentlemen: As a stimulus to the courageous aviators, I desire to offer, through the auspices and regulations of the Aero Club of America, a prize of $25,000 to the first aviator of any Allied Country crossing the Atlantic in one flight, from Paris to New York or New York to Paris, all other details in your care.
Yours very sincerely,
Raymond Orteig

$25,000 would be the equivalent of a prize worth around $350,000 in 2018, enough to pay the debts of an aviator and maybe even enough left over to buy a brand new aircraft.

That year many record-breaking flights were made, including the first non-stop flight between Newfoundland and Ireland and the first crossing from East Fortune Scotland to Long Island, New York. However, the trip from New York to continental Europe was still beyond the capabilities of the aircraft of the time and the reward, which specified New York City to Paris, was not claimed during the five-year period of the prize.

In 1925, Orteig reissued his offer and this time, there was a real chance of an aviator collecting the prize.

Rene Fonck’s Orteig Prize-seeking Sikorsky S-35, courtesy of the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

The first serious attempt was by French flying ace René Fonck in 1926, who was flying a custom-built Sikorsky aircraft. The attempt literally never got off the ground: the Sikorsky crashed and burst into flames on take-off, killing two of the four on board.

The following year, a number of serious contenders in the US undertook to cross the Atlantic from New York to Paris.

Clarence Chamberlin and Bert Acosta had private funding for an attempt in a Bellanca WB-2 monoplane. In April, 1927 they set the world endurance record, circling New York City for over 51 hours and covering a distance of 4,100 miles. The planned flight from New York to Paris was 3,600 miles. But, before they were able to make their attempt, the pilots and the chief backer (who was also the owner of the aircraft) ended up in contract arguments and an injunction was placed on the aircraft. These arguments caused multiple delays and twice the transatlantic flights were cancelled. In the end, Chamberlin did cross the Atlantic but not until after the prize had been claimed.

Polar explorer Richard E. Byrd commissioned a tri-motor aircraft from Anthony Fokker. The Fokker crashed nose-over during a test flight; Byrd and his two crew members suffered multiple broken bones. The aircraft was repaired but, in May 1927, they were still testing and awaiting favourable weather. In the end, they did cross the Atlantic, but not until after the prize had been claimed. They also didn’t quite make it to the finish line; they failed to reach Le Bourget airfield in Paris and ended up ditching on the coast of Normandy.

The ill-fated Keystone K-47 Pathfinder “American Legion” awaits an attempt at the Orteig Prize, courtesy of the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

Stanton Wooster and Noel Davis also planned a crossing in a Keystone Pathfinder named after their primary source of funding, the American Legion. Their aircraft crashed on a test flight, killing both aviators.

At this time, only one team was considering the more difficult east–west crossing from France to the United States. Charles Nungesser was a French ace pilot who had racked up 43 air combat victories during the First World War. Although he was one of the best fighter pilots the French had, he was also regularly put on house arrest for flying without permission. He met François Coli during the war.

François Coli lost an eye in a crash in 1918 but had already solidified his reputation as an excellent navigator. After the war he took part in a number of record-setting distance flights and had already planned a non-stop transatlantic prize as early as 1923. However he and his partner had an accident which destroyed their biplane. Coli still wished to attempt to win the Orteig prize and was on the lookout for another aircraft and partner. Charles Nungesser had planned to cross solo but the aircraft designer, Pierre Levasseur, insisted that he should consider taking Coli as his navigator in the new two-seater version of the Levasseur PL.4. Nungesser and Coli worked with the Levasseur chief engineer and the production manager to design the Levasseur PL.8 biplane, which they named L’Oiseau Blanc.

Charles Nungesser in l’Oiseau blanc during flight tests

On the 8th of May in 1927, Nungesser and Coli departed Le Bourget Field at 05:17 local time, half an hour after dawn. The aircraft, heavy with fuel, barely cleared the trees at the end of the runway. Four military aircraft accompanied the flight on the first leg. Photographs and films of the time show the aircraft’s attitude as normal. The landing gear was released as they flew over the Seine in order to reduce the weight of the aircraft. If they were to make an emergency landing, they would ditch the plane on water, so there was no point in carrying the wheels for the rest of the journey.

At 06:48, the aircraft was sighted over Étretat on the coast. At this stage, they’d travelled 108 nautical miles in over an hour and a half, an estimated ground speed of 133km/h. This was considerably slower than they had estimated and it is not clear why. The wind was light and they had planned the weight of the aircraft carefully.

The sighting at Étretat was important because this was the decision point. Nungesser and Coli had agreed that they would turn back here if they felt the attempt was unlikely. They continued flying northwest at low altitude, committing to crossing the English Channel.

This is the last point where we can be sure of their decisions.

It’s not clear what the weather was like over the Channel. Descriptions of the last sighting of the biplane range varied from “lost to view, far away between the water and the sky” to “arrived at the Channel in the thick fog”. Whether they disappeared into the fog or into the distance, that moment is our last piece of reliable information, the last position update clearly confirmed by multiple witnesses.

The military aircraft turned back and L’Oiseau Blanc flew on. Now it begins to get odd.

A Frenchman out walking on the cliffs near Étretat that day, M. Joseph Meny, remembers that it was around 6 a.m. when he saw a plane overhead. He said it was low-flying and jolting about as it flew and at the time he thought, “Well, that won’t go far.” He thought it was almost certainly L’Oiseau Blanc but, at the time, he decided it would be better not to tell anyone. There was a wave of proud patriotism in France in the wake of the attempt to be the first to make the crossing and the man believed that such a negative description of the French aircraft would be dismissed. In fact, he did not report what he had seen until 1980.

Aircraft were not a common sight but his timing is wrong or, at least, misremembered. We know that the L’Oiseau Blanc didn’t reach Étretat until 06:48. If he actually saw the aircraft around seven, then the “jolting” is worrying.

There should have been position updates as the aircraft crossed the Channel but, embarrassingly, it seems that the French Navy were watching in the wrong area. By the following day, they didn’t bother with lookouts, presuming that L’Oiseau Blanc had already crossed. It wasn’t until the 10th, two days after the aces’ glorious departure from Paris, that a flurry of telegrams were sent to the ships to search for any sign of the aircraft. By now, the weather had turned bad; the Navy weren’t able to carry out aerial patrols and gave up the search on the evening of the 12th of May.

One man thought he saw the wreckage of the aircraft. In 1937, ten years after the famous flight, a fisherman told his wife and his sons that he’d seen L’Oiseau Blanc a day or two after the famous departure. He was fishing, piloting a 14-metre cutter from Fécamp, when he briefly saw the wreckage of a white plane off of the coast of Étretat, which the waves then pulled under. He reported it immediately to the Naval Authority, who ordered him not to tell anyone else what he had seen. The man’s son reported this conversation when the French aviation authority reopened the investigation.

He said that his father, who was accompanied by three or four of his fellow boatmen, did not say what the weather or the sea was on the day, but that since he was fishing, the weather must have been all right. His father did not see the airplane land and did not hear the sound of the airplane’s motor. He was about 150 meters away from the wreckage when it went under. He recovered no debris from the area. The wreckage was apparently empty, but if the members of the crew were prostrated unconscious in the cockpit, he probably could not have seen them. In any case he heard no call for help.

There are no records of this at the Naval District of Fécamp, which is where the fisherman would have likely made his report. Was the fisherman wrong or was his report covered up? It is impossible to tell.

However, there’s no way both of these reports could be true. If the jolting aircraft crossed the coastline on the 8th and then crashed, the wreckage would not still be floating for the fisherman to see it pulled under the waves a day or two later. Neither report, made so long after the fact, is compelling evidence that Nungesser and Coli crashed before they flew out of sight of the French coastline.

Then there’s a British Naval Submarine who reported seeing an aircraft on the far side of the Channel, twenty miles south-west of the Needles on the Isle of Wight. This sighting, at least, is right on course for their planned flight.

Press release from the British Admiralty:

London, May 12. — The British Admiralty have published the telegram below received from the base commander of Portland (England): The submarine H.50 conveys an account of seeing an aircraft at 50°29′ north by 1°30′ west at 0745 British summer time on May 8, altitude 300 meters. Course about 300°. Light coloured biplane. The only markings visible were red, white and blue on the tail. The biplane looked like one with a large fuselage. The visibility was not more than two or three miles. Weather too foggy to see other marks.

Aircraft were not commonly crossing the channel and clearly it wasn’t a British plane, which they would have recognised. Who else could it possibly be? But this report isn’t as reliable as it looks at first glance. There’s no mention of the aircraft in the submarine logs, which is very odd. It’s possible that the sailors were simply watching for the French flight out of interest and felt no need to log it as an official note of observation, but now we are starting to make excuses. Also, the timing is wrong: L’Oiseau Blanc would have had to travel 380 km/h to cross the channel by 07:45 British summer time and we know that the aircraft was barely travelling at half that speed.

Somehow, the press release was never officially communicated to the French Navy even though it was quoted in the Times of London and various French newspapers. It didn’t matter anyway. No one followed up on this because, by then, more people had claimed to have seen or heard the French aces flying overhead.

Many of these reports contradicted each other and it’s very possible that every single one is wrong. But a combination of sightings could be cherry-picked for a feasible recreation of L’Oiseau Blanc’s journey.

One report of an aircraft flying at a height of 1,000–2,000 feet near Exeter at 08:15 fits the timeline, as does a 10:00 sighting over County Clare in Ireland at 1,000 metres, which claims that the French colours were confirmed by telescope. These sightings form a straight line from Le Bourget and heading straight across the Atlantic. If we accept these sightings as true, then the French pilots would have flown over the west coast of Ireland at 11:00 local time (10:00 GMT).

Certainly, the French Embassy in Ireland collected all the reports they could find and confirmed “without possible doubt that Nungesser crossed Ireland from Lismore to Carrigaholt, and was seen for the last time here at around 1100 hours.”

One eyewitness was just eight years old at the time but when the case was reopened, he said that he clearly remembered seeing the aircraft with his father.

I was only 8 years old when I saw the ’plane, and would have been with my father. My recollection is that the ’plane was flying fairly high over the River Shannon and went west over Knocknagaroon Hill towards the Atlantic. Knocknagaroon Hill is on the Atlantic coast, 5 or 6 miles south west of Kilkee. The association between that ’plane and Knocknagaroon Hill is very clear in my memory.

I still have a distinct recollection of seeing the aeroplane fly out west over Knocknagaroon Hill. My father was greatly interested in this effort by Capt. Nungesser to fly across the Atlantic, from this side, and the fact that both he and I had seen the ’plane made it a topic of family conversation and interest which lasted for long after the reported loss of the two brave pilots and their aeroplane.

The combined testimony from Ireland led to hope that the aircraft made it across England and Ireland, heading over the Atlantic about six hours after it departed from Paris.

Here would be another decision point for the pilots. Once they started the long and dangerous flight over the Atlantic, they would have very little chance if they had to ditch. If they were not sure that they could make it across the Atlantic, now was the time to call it off. If they decided not to continue, then they could either land locally (in Ireland or England) or cross the Channel again and return to Paris.

Although the first aviation radio was installed in 1910 along with the first in-flight radio transmission (“Roy, come and get this goddamned cat!”), that was in an airship, not a plane. In 1927, the weight of a radio system was still well beyond what a little biplane like L’Oiseau Blanc could carry, so there was no way for the French aces to interact with the rest of the world unless they landed, which in itself was fraught with danger and could only be done once; remember, they dropped the landing wheels to save weight when they took off.

Their engineer told Le Journal about the discussion he’d had with the pilots before they departed.

The eminent engineer wished to tell us that all of his interpretations had as their base the passage of the white plane over Ireland. Nungesser and Coli were supposed to cross the area in about five hours after departure, at a minimum altitude of 1000 meters; and if, at the moment pinpointed on their progress tables for direction and altitude, they could see that everything was going according to the mathematical checkpoints established before their departure, they could embark over the Atlantic; but only under these conditions. In case of doubt, the aircraft would immediately have reversed course, in order to land on one of the numerous British rivers.

At this point, we have evidence for three possible scenarios:

  1. L’Oiseau Blanc crashed in the Channel after passing over Étretat (the last solid sighting), flying low, slow and “jolting”, and every other sighting is a mistake or a case of wishful thinking.
  2. L’Oiseau Blanc made it across the Channel, overflying England and Ireland before turning back to return to France, crashing near the coast of France, which would mean that the wreckage seen by the fisherman was in fact the French aircraft.
  3. L’Oiseau Blanc successfully followed its expected route and the French aces began their Atlantic crossing at around 10:00 GMT that day.

No further sightings were reported that day or that night, not even impossible ones. Would someone have noticed the aircraft returning over Ireland and England in the dark? It’s quite likely that they wouldn’t, bearing in mind no one was watching for it by now. Certainly no one could have seen it flying over the Atlantic in the dark.

For the moment, let’s assume that the mood was bullish in the cockpit and they continued their record-breaking flight. In the original plans, Coli had originally hoped they could follow the Great Circle route from southern Ireland to Belle Isle, passing between Newfoundland and the rest of Atlantic Canada. After seeing the weather forecasts on the morning of their departure, he revised this course. His plans for the new route estimated that they would fly over Belle Isle at around 06:00 GMT.

Post card of Charles Nungesser and François Coli and their biplane L’Oiseau Blanc.

Many believe that the aircraft and the pilots were lost during those dark hours, flying over the Atlantic. But there are a number of witnesses in Newfoundland and Maine who claim that they heard the aircraft fly overhead above the clouds. And it’s true that if they continued on their course and if they did not divert north, then it is quite possible that they next overflew Harbour Grace in Newfoundland.

This is important because La Presse published seven reports from residents of Harbour Grace who stated that they had heard an aircraft flying overhead around 9:30 or 10:00. Four of the witnesses recall the aircraft sounds overflying the bay from the north but the other three are just as emphatic that the aircraft was flying towards the north-west. The following day, La Presse retracted the article and said all of the reports were erroneous. That same day, the Evening Telegram quoted two more reports, including this charming account from a woman who had no idea what she’d seen.

Annie Kelly, a married woman residing in Harbour Grace, South Shore, swore that between 9:00 and 10:00 in the morning of Monday, May 9th, she was working near her house when she heard a buzzing sound that seemed to be overhead. The noise passed over her house, it seemed, and searching to find out what caused it, she saw over her and going south what she took at first to be two big gulls with their wings touching. They were two large white wings on a line with each other, but she knew the object could not be a bird from the strange sound it made. She did not report the matter earlier, because she did not know anything about the missing aeroplane until she saw it in the Harbour Grace Standard on Friday night, and then she thought she should report the matter.

But there was serious question as to whether these reports were trustworthy. On the 17th, over a week after it was clear that the French flight had been lost, The Times published an article stating that the witnesses to the overflying aircraft were incorrect and that they could not confirm that the aircraft had ever been there.

Investigators at Harbour Grace are now inclined to believe that the persons who said they saw or heard an aeroplane there on May 9 were self-deluded.

If L’Oiseau Blanc did fly over Harbour Grace that morning, then the French pilots had a serious problem: fuel. Based on the times that the witnesses heard or saw an aircraft, Nungesser and Coli had been flying for over 41 hours, exceeding their initial planned flight time.

They could hope for another seven hours, at best, before running out of fuel. They could not possibly make it to New York City. They obviously couldn’t make it back to Europe. They needed to divert.

They had discussed this possibility during planning and had a list of possible diversions: Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or Maine. Even if one assumes that the biplane made it this far and then diverted and landed, this is an impossibly large search area.

A sighting that might have helped to find the biplane came from a fisherman who inexplicably did not see any reason to report what he had seen until 1930.

On the morning of May 9, 1927, in a thick fog and white calm, I was finding the fish in an area about a mile and a half south of the black cape, when I heard a noise like the motor of an airplane . . . The noise increasing, I was quite sure it was an airplane . . . Suddenly toward the open sea, I heard a great crash like something very heavy fell into the sea . . . then there was total silence. At the same moment, my Newfoundland dog who was sleeping on the motor’s casing stood on his hind legs and started to howl; I had a lot of trouble making him be quiet . . . I went back to the port in the afternoon. It was one or two days later that I heard about the disappearance of the aviators Nungesser and Coli.

This is again not a particularly reliable account. It’s hard to explain why the fisherman, who seemed quite clear that he had heard a crash, stayed where he was and continued fishing rather than sounding alarm, and continued to say nothing during the massive searches around St Pierre, waiting until three years later to tell his tale.

The mystery now spans thousands upon thousands of kilometres, with eyewitnesses to vouch for each of the following:

  1. L’Oiseau Blanc crashed in the Channel after passing over Étretat.
  2. L’Oiseau Blanc made it across the Channel, overflying England and Ireland before turning back to return to France, crashing near the coast of France.
  3. L’Oiseau Blanc continued across the Atlantic but was lost at sea somewhere between Ireland and Newfoundland.
  4. L’Oiseau Blanc reached Newfoundland, overflying Harbour Grace, with a range of around seven hours flight time left to them, and then crashed.

Knowing that clearly not all of the sightings (especially of the wreckage) can possibly be true, and with evidence that many of the witnesses were flat out wrong, it becomes impossible to know who to believe.

There’s just one more reported sighting; this one was in the north-east of Maine.

The crash of this plane was heard by a woodsman, Anson Berry, deceased in 1936. While he was fishing that afternoon on Round Lake, he heard a plane engine that, after some misfiring, ceased to function. The noise of a forced landing followed. The witness did not see the plane because of the fog and low clouds. He did not attempt to go to the area of the crash.

Now, based on the timing, this could have been the same aircraft which overflew Harbour Grace. This sighting has even led to a theory that Maine bootleggers shot down the biplane, fearing police surveillance.

But even if that were likely, which it isn’t, then it means that L’Oiseau Blanc was still flying towards New York City, despite the fact that both of the pilots must have known that they could not possibly make it there. This makes no sense: Nungesser and Coli were highly competent pilots and by that time had already exceeded their planned flight of 40 hours. No magic wand could possibly have got them to New York to win the prize. They could not magic up fuel. It seems fantastical that they would simply carry on, knowing for a fact that they did not have enough fuel to make it to their destination.

Memorial plaque in Etretat for Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli

The search for the remains of L’Oiseau Blanc has never stopped; although obviously the aircraft would have disintegrated by now, there is one part which is likely to have survived over the years: the 400-kilogramme metal engine.

So far, no sign of L’Oiseau Blanc has been discovered. In 1982, TIGHAR’s Project Midnight Ghost began searching the area around Round Lake, based on the woodsman’s sighting, hoping to find the engine. After ten years, they concluded that further searching was pointless and that L’Oiseau Blanc had not made it to Maine. In 1992, they refocused their efforts to explore the options in Newfoundland. However, there are hundreds of lakes where the biplane might have attempted to ditch and after twenty-five years of searching, Project Midnight Ghost is struggling for further funding to continue the search.

Since 2009, French businessman Bernard Decré has been searching the area around the French islands of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon for the remains of the biplane. In 2013, he took a team to scour the south-east coast of the Ille de St Pierre using sonar and a magnetometer to try to locate the engine. Decré believes that US authorities covered up the disappearance and the crash in order to pave the way for an American victory.

It was just ten days later, on the 20th of May, when Charles Lindbergh departed Roosevelt Field in New York to make the first cross-Atlantic flight from New York City to Paris. He arrived thirty-three hours later, winning the Orteig prize as well as making the first ever solo transatlantic flight.

Cheque presented to Charles A. Lindbergh for winning the Orteig Prize, dated June 17th, 1927.

Over 150,000 people were at Le Bourget to watch him land and he became a great sensation on both sides of the Atlantic. Elinor Smith Sullivan, who was a pilot at the time, described how this success immediately changed American aviation.

People seemed to think we [aviators] were from outer space or something. But after Charles Lindbergh’s flight, we could do no wrong. It’s hard to describe the impact Lindbergh had on people. Even the first walk on the moon doesn’t come close. The twenties was such an innocent time, and people were still so religious—I think they felt like this man was sent by God to do this. And it changed aviation forever because all of a sudden the Wall Streeters were banging on doors looking for airplanes to invest in. We’d been standing on our heads trying to get them to notice us but after Lindbergh, suddenly everyone wanted to fly, and there weren’t enough planes to carry them.

And so ends the “Everest of aviation mysteries” as it has become known. Although it is tempting to believe that someone might one day find the engine, it’s just not possible to narrow the search area for any one of the three possible locations (the English Channel, the Atlantic past the Irish shore or in the wilderness of the eastern coast of North America). The reported sightings cannot possibly all be true and so we are left with a ninety-year-old mystery of the French flying aces who “vanished like midnight ghosts”.

57 Comments

  • The landing gear situation is puzzling. So they “dropped the wheels” but did they also drop the undercarriage?

    If the didn’t, I don’t see how they could land w/o it digging in and flipping the plane. So did the actually land short of their destination, flip, and die somewhere remote?

    • there’s an air-to-air video on youtube showing the Oiseau Blanc in flight (presumably taken during the tranatlantic flight) without its undercart.

    • I’m pretty sure the plan was to land in the bay at the far side but I’m no longer sure where I picked that up.

  • Why is the Royal Navy sighting impossible? Unless France was not using daylight saving (aka “summer”) time, the plane would have had 57 minutes to travel the ~100 miles (estimate from Google maps) from Etretat to the Needles. Similarly, if being at the Needles at 0745 is impossibly fast, how could the plane have been at Exeter (~70 miles further) only half an hour later — was Exeter keeping standard rather than summer time?

  • Dropping only the wheels would not have made sense, for various reasons. Indeed, on landing the undercarriage struts would dig themselves into the surface, be it water or land. The design for the dropping of the entire landing gear would be much simpler. The struts, had they remained attached, would have caused drag too.
    I am not certain if the practice still existed, but in days gone by many areas kept to their own local time zones. Which could have caused confusion about the sightings’ times.
    The riddle of continuing past Harbour Grace without enough fuel to reach their intended destination – assuming of course that they had made it that far – might have been the result of extreme fatigue. Even with two pilots on board, there would not have been much comfort. From the picture it looks as if the Oiseau Blanc had an open cockpit, the pilots must have been half-frozen to death. It was May, but over the North Atlantic the temperature at 3000 ft. could have been close to freezing. Hypoxia can deprive a person of the ability to think clearly and rationally.
    Unless some remains are found that can be identified as part of the Oiseau Blanc, it will remain a mystery, like the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. We can compare it with finding a needle in a haystack.
    I will take my chances on the haystack !

    • Local time zones started disappearing as rail transport grew (starting in the 1840’s), so that stations could be clear on when a train had left another station; see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_zone#Railway_time. Daylight savings time came in later (and not uniformly — two US states don’t use it), which is why I asked whether there were variations in where it was used — but https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daylight_saving_time#History says it was kept after World War One in France as well as in Britain. So ISTM that the times quoted east of the Atlantic are quite possible; the mystery is whether the plane was really seen/heard, way behind planned time, in the west.

    • The “Take-off gear” (wheels and struts) are on display at the French Air and Space Museum at Le Bourget Airport in Paris.

  • Error: Correction, I meant hypothermia of course.
    At a relatively low altitude of 3000 ft (1000 metres), hypoxia would not have been much of an issue. Maybe a medically trained person would be able to tell if prolonged exposure to cold would increase a person’s vulnerability to reduced oxygen. But at 3000 feet? I doubt it. Prolonged exposure to cold probably would have a measurable effect on a person’s performance. Combined with fatigue it could have been lethal.
    Another possibility may have been vertigo. Even in conditions of only mildly reduced visibility, over open sea there may have been an absence of a clear horizon. And cold, very tired pilots may have suffered from vertigo without realising it. John Kennedy jr. succumbed to that condition in the comfort of a modern aircraft, equipped with modern instruments. He was not qualified as an instrument-rated pilot but in 1927 no pilots were. Jimmy Doolittle demonstrated the possibilities of flying solely by reference to instruments in 1929.

  • I wonder how much night flying experience Nungesser or Coli had. It’s not as easy to find as for Charles Lindbergh.
    Nungesser’s bio on wikipedia is also interesting: apparently he liked to break rules and take risks.

  • The Whitebird crash site has been found, Nungesser and Coli made it to America on 9th May 1927 ran out of fuel and crashed across a stream in Washington County Maine both survived but were later killed by local woodsmen who burned and buried the Whitebird to cover up their crime thats why its never been found. Secret has been kept in family for 94 years all now dead story told by decendant of those responsible.

    • Not to worry! TIGHAR has resumed their search for the White Bird. After TIGHAR conducted several expeditions to Nikumaroro Island to prove Amelia Earhart and her navigator did NOT land on that atoll, they’re now focusing their “Science” on a pond in Newfoundland to…let’s assume…again not locate their target aircraft. Anecdotes recalled after major events are like bellybuttons: Everybody’s got one. People will claim they saw airplanes flying over their house/boat/harbor/nudist camp just to get attention in the wake of such tragedies. Many people claim to have received radio messages from Earhart after her plane disappeared. I’m sure the same folks regularly converse with Elvis. Until actual physical evidence of the White Bird is positively identified, all the rumors spread by wannabe witnesses are a waste of breath.

      • Well if the White Bird did crash in that pond in Canada and hit a rock – there would be a lot left to find close by underwater – burned or not – besides – how can one disregard so many eye witnesses in Washington Co ? – as far as Miss Amelia’s plane – there is significant evidence that she might have been taken to Singapore by Japanese and passed away later there – it can be found on web.

        • There are only rumors circulating about Earhart and Noonan being captured by the Japanese. Not only were people trying to get their names in newspapers, newsreels and books, our government was exploiting her disappearance to justify sending naval vessels to search the South Pacific, not to find a Lockheed twin, but to locate Japanese Military Installations on various islands. The Japanese quickly realized what was occurring, and restricted the search grids of our ships. It is also likely that propaganda arose from Hollywood in the wake of that tragedy: The film “Flight for Freedom” was an example of that propaganda.

      • Web info for Amelia’s plane indicates that she might have been taken actually to Saipan where she might have passed later from illness – possibly outliving Navigator who might have been eliminated. This account may have come from information developed from US Military and other folks on the Island.

        • Here’s a recent example: A Learjet was flown to New Hampshire on a Part-91 positioning flight for a charter. The aircraft arrived at the destination in IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions) Approach controllers vectored the aircraft to the approach fix, assigned an altitude, and cleared the flight for the instrument approach. The plane disappeared…FOR SIX YEARS!! I could not believe an aircraft in a RADAR environment, flying a structured approach segment could just vanish without a trace. After some research, calculations, statements by controllers and transcripts of aircraft and ground controller transmissions, I contacted the website that published the mishap information (The pilot’s brother owned that domain) and asked if I could take a crack at locating the Learjet. Suddenly, out of the blue, the wreckage was located! One facet of the causal theories caught my eye: The navigation aid for the approach was malfunctioning. NOTAMs were constantly being processed to designate the NAVAID as inoperable, then operating. I told the pilot’s brother that he should look into that factor.

  • Ric Gilespies organisation gave in through lack of money,and support, We had no money or support and we didnt give up. we just couldnt believe over 12 people would say they heard a plane on a date, time and place where there were no planes, Stories yes, but they couldnt all be liers. we followed every one of them and didnt get a break until this year after talking to some local guys in a bar I was followed out by the barmaid who told me she knew where the engine was from the plane I was looking for, “Its in a sawmill she said” How do you know I inquired Well I was married to a man whos family has held a terrible secret she said, they killed those pilots and I wasnt supposed to tell but he beat and abused me so I no longer have any loyalty to him or his family go talk to him and see if he will tell you.When I saw him I didnt think he would talk but he did, he said he loved his family but was ashamed of what they had done then he confirmed what his wife had said. If it was not the truth, then why would they both tell a complete stranger that story, he even pointed out the place on the map where the Whitebird is buried. according to him it crossed a stream, hit the other bank and crashed in half behind the cockpit. I believe this story because if you follow Harold Vinings acount of flying over his house heading towards Anson Berrys camp and hearing the engine cut out it puts the Whitebird exactly where my informant says it is.

    • I have heard lots of this story growing up and still now. My family is very invested in this story, as my great grandfather Henry Lamoreau had lots of personal interest and as I was told had some information on the subject. It always interested me as well.

    • I wouldn’t give Gillespie a wooden nickel. The man is a polemic tyrant who exudes the attitude “My way, or the Highway!” You can’t deal with people like that, especially within organizations that are supposedly non-profit, and dependent upon donations and voluntary labor. His “Niku Notion” had limited merit to start with, and should have warranted ONE expedition to search the atoll. Instead, TIGHAR announced their solving of the Earhart Mystery every time they found a piece of garbage…even HUMAN FECES!!!!…on “Niku”. Their “Patch” was a shining example of how to string folks who donated money (and their sponsors) along with smoking gun evidence that turned out to be blanks.

  • After 94 years everything is hard to prove but ask yourself this, Whitebird was a large plane 31 feet long with double wings 0ver 40 ft wide designed to land on water, why hasnt she been found? not one piece of her. The answer is because somebody didnt want it found and the story I have been told is believable We will find her, justy wait and see we know where she is and with new technology, ground penetrating radar the truth with be known

    • They could’ve well crashed into the Atlantic, you need fairly calm water for a landing.

      Find the engine block, or exhume Nungesser and find his steel jaw prothesis. Anyone can tell stories.

    • I don’t think Coli and his copilot stopped somewhere to pick up Jimmy Hoffa. Your theory is duly noted, but if you’re going to accuse someone of murder, or other criminal acts, you might first be 199% percent DAMN sure you’re correct, then name your elusive criminal(s). None of us can say whether your theory is valid, but there’s a large matter of plausibility here.

  • Yes anyone can tell stories, but 2 people telling the same story to a stranger like me doesnt add up to a lie, Anson Berrys story is not believable, after passing Harold Vinings house and hearing the engine stop, Whitebird couldn’t have made it to the Round Hills. With a 900 lb engine a 12 ft propeller and 2 pilots she would have gone down fast and crash where my informant says she is. Anyway we will be going back next year with the right equipment and find whats left of the Whitebird

  • Hey Mr Walker not sure if you knew of a previous post by a diver who claimed to have found a prop in a river in the area near where you are referring to – he has since passed away – I have not as of yet been able to locate his family to speak with them – would have already dove in the river – but am located in Florida – perhaps I will at some point.

    • hi Peter I live in Florida Too and have been searching for the Whitebird for over 4 years in Maine a lot of dead ends because there is a conspiracy of Silence going on there and they don’t like to talk to strangers they call them Flatlanders but this year I solved the mystery, Whitebird is there, she crashed across a stream and broke in half, but certain woodsmen killed them for the gold they were carrying. then they buried the Whitebird to conceal it. I checked out the diver theory and met his mother, it turned out to be a blank too. Stephen Seavy was a drug addict and his story was not true My book is coming out soon it’s called “The Whitebird Story a conspiracy of silence” and it will tell the whole nasty story. It tells how I was able to break through the conspiracy of silence and learn the truth. Charles Lindbergh was not first to fly across the Atlantic Nungesser and Coli beat him by 12 days.

      • Thanks for your response Mr Walker – there is a large stream in the area you are referring to which fits in with the account of the White Bird – would like to see the pilots remains returned to France if ever they are found – will look for your book when it comes out – advise if you need help as needed.

        • Yes, Peter, I was lucky this time, a divorce problem with one of the grandsons opened up the secret story. The Whitebird came down like a dragon from the sky hit the bank and broke in half behind the cockpit. Knowone had ever seen or heard a plane before and with both pilots speaking in a foreign language and Nungesser’s black heart and coffin emblazoned on the side they thought they were devils. and shot them with one of those big moose guns my informant was pleased to get it off his chest and showed me on the map where it is..Wait till you see the book for the whole story and hear the Whitebird song being sung by Roger Eynbergh on youtube

        • Yes, Peter, I was lucky this time, a divorce problem with one of the grandsons opened up the secret story. The Whitebird came down like a dragon from the sky hit the bank and broke in half behind the cockpit. Knowone had ever seen or heard a plane before and with both pilots speaking in a foreign language and Nungesser’s black heart and coffin emblazoned on the side they thought they were devils. and shot them with one of those big moose guns my informant was pleased to get it off his chest and showed me on the map where it is.Wait till you see the book for the whole story and hear the Whitebird song being sung by Roger Eynbergh on youtube

      • The only suggestion I can offer is that you should regard such ‘evidence’ as being criminal court exhibits, and those exhibits/theories/anecdotes will be subject to “Rules of Evidence”. Any court would have thrown out those stories in a heartbeat, because they’re either hearsay, or there are no supporting documents or physical evidence to prove their validity. Find the plane, provide a photo of your wreckage, the skeletal remains of the crew or some document which identifies them (Pilot Certificate, Driver License, etc.) THEN you’ll have furnished material to solve the mystery. I searched for downed aircraft, and my friends and I located aircraft wreckage in remote locations. There was WRECKAGE, not RUMORS, that told the tragic tales of those mishaps.

  • Peter, I think there is a good chance of recovering the bones of Nungesser and Coli I have been to the area, only accessible by canoe dig down 2 inches and you hit water, there is no way they could have buried them after burning the plane I think they may have put the bodies back in the cockpit and covered it over with alder bushes and branches to hide it. and if they didn’t strip the leather suits off, the bones would be preserved I think some good sniffing dogs would find them pretty quick I have not mentioned the Family names in my book, I don’t think it is fair to blame them for what their grandfathers did. Hopefully one day they will come forward by themselves and help solve the mystery fully. I think the engine and the gun are still around somewhere.

  • Very interesting comments…
    since 2006 I spend many hours and travel To Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and Portland Maine.
    If i can resume: Yes they cross the north Atlantic the 8 and 8 may 1927..;It is certain they could not went further because not enoughjt petrol..Could you looked after the US Coast Guard MODOC on the East south coast of New Foundland…It is not impossible he recieved orders from New York Senator Hamilton Fisgh Jr III who is also on that Atlantic race, because he is young dynamic, rich, and he want to be President of USA after Coolidge, he sponsor a plane Columbia to cross the Atlantic…
    He asked to the MODOC to watch after a plane and shot it…They did that, and the Oiseau Blanc came to Saint PIerre and Miquelon area to land on the sea, he make a very bad landing….and we sippose the aircraft wreck came with the Labrador current to Portland Maine where he stop in Jewellesand Cliff islands…where the ehgine and some wrecks could be…
    Well I am on that hypothetic and very serious way…
    Best regards
    Bernard Decre

    • Bernard after 4 years of searching in Washington County Maine, I am 100% certain that the Whitebird is buried where my informant said it is. because it fits in with the account of Harold Vining, who said it flew over his house on its way to the Anson Berry camp when he heard the engine cut out. This story has been kept secret within the family of my informant for 95 years to protect his grandfather. but my informant was a good man and he knew it was wrong to kill those famous French heroes, He told me when he was 8 years old he went to school and was asked to write an essay, and decided to write about the Whitebird and what he had heard behind closed doors at home. When he took the story home, proud of himself to show to his grandfather it was ripped up in front of him and he was told to never write or speak about the Whitebird ever again. The story only came out by my being in the right place at the right time talking to my informant’s ex-wife who told me the family secret because she no longer had any loyalty to him and his family and when I interviewed him he told me the same story. so I know it’s true. My informant gave me an approximate location of the Whitebird burial site, but modern technology would be needed to find the site. An expedition is going to be needed if we are ever going to solve this mystery.

      • Hi Mr Tom – one aspect of the family’s account of the fate of the White Bird – pertains to the plight of the engine – it would
        have been a lot of work for 2 or 3 men to bury a large bi plane even if partial burnt in a swampy area or in the tree line some couple of hundred feet away. Not something one could do in an single afternoon. Removal of the engine in such a remote area would also have been problematic – seems like it would have sat there for a while and someone would have seen it.

        • I have been to the remote area where the Whitebird is supposed to be buried, it’s difficult to get to, from a lake you travel up a river then a stream by canoe very few people go there only fishermen occasionally. dig down 2 inches and you hit water, there is no way they could have buried the piloits.
          My theory and feeling is they had to burn and bury the plane as quickly as possible because the whole world was looking for the Whitebird. they couldn’t dig because of the water table so they put the bodies back in the cockpit and covered it over with elder bushes and branches to hide it and that’s why there is a mound there today, according to my informant. I couldn’t find the mound myself because the area is overgrown and the grass is 6ft high. The engine weighed 900 lbs so they would either have had to pull it out to the nearest dirt road by oxen and get it on a truck or build a raft and tow it up the stream. into the river and back to the lake, I think there was more than one person involved with this work. possibly 3 or 4. My informant said his ancestor told him that the plane hit one bank of the stream and then the other before braking in half behind the cockpit, at that point I think the pouch with Nungesser’s medals could have slipped out from under his seat and ended up in the steam but again I am only guessing. Some skeptics are saying that maybe my informant and his ex-wife are lieing to me or simply pulling my chain But the truth is I interviewed each of them separately and they hate each other but they told the same story. I think what’s left of the Whitebird is there and I think the bones of Nungesser and Coli are there, possibly protected by the leather suits they were wearing. and I think a good dedicated team with the latest drones and technology could find them and I think in the interest of good relations with the people of France, we should find them.

          • It seems that so far, you have been given excuses why metal objects would no longer be at the site (seems they don’t know about Nungesser’s jaw), which is going to be used to explain why metal detectors won’t find anything.

            It makes absolutely no sense in terms of secrecy to transport the aircraft engine away from the crash site. Common sense says you’re being misled.

            The fact that the estranged couple tells the same story indicates to me that they’ve told it before when they were still together.

            Ultimately, my opinion doesn’t matter; what matters is you finding actual evidence. My guess is you’re going to end up with a leather jacket of unknown provenance, but obviously you finding conclusive evidence would immediately prove me wrong. (It works in my favor that your informants have already eliminated the two most conclusive pieces of evidence via their story.)

            A treasure hunt can be fun even if there’s no treasure at the end.

          • Every summer for 4 years starting in 2018 when I first heard the story I have traveled up to Maine searching for the Whitebird. It was reported that over 12 people had heard a plane up in the sky that day May 9th by people who had never heard a plane in their lives before, in fact, there weren’t any planes in Maine at that time, and even if there were, it was foggy that day and nobody in their right mind other than Nungesser and Coli would have been flying up there, so there is no smoke without fire.
            I put together a team of 4 of us and we searched every possible clue and found nothing. In 2019 one of my team was approached by a man who said “I heard you were looking for the Whitebird plane, “I know where it is and it’s not in the round hills where you have been looking its by a stream near Rocky lake in that direction and there’s a mound there” I’m not telling you anymore he said, there are others involved who don’t want it found and I could get into serious trouble if they find out I have spoken to you, just go and get it but leave my name out of it.

            We spent the rest of 2019 going up that stream with metal detectors but again found nothing because the Land bushes and grass there was over 6 feet tall.
            Mendel, you have to understand how difficult it is to search that area without the use of a drone or ground-seeking radar. With regard to the engine, it was a very valuable piece of equipment at that time as the whole economy in the area at that time was dependent on lumber and cutting trees. Then there was the missing gold, how come Anson Berry, the last man to hear the plane and its crash, paid for his supplies at a local store with gold. Anson was found 9 years later floating in 2 feet of water and the official report said he had a heart attack and fell out of his canoe, but another rumor said his hands were tied behind his back and his head was bashed in. Mendel, I could be being misled, and I could be being fooled but I don’t think so. One of my team backed out of the search and wouldn’t give a good reason why except to say “I must not be the one to find the Whitebird.” I think he was threatened because we were getting too close to finding the Whitebird. My personal feeling is the story is true, and Whitebird is there why else has it not been found? if someone didn’t want it found. and with the right technology and a dedicated team, we can find it, what do we have to lose? My main reason for starting this search wasn’t for money or fame but to help the French people find their lost heroes. If you read my book “Run toward the blazing sun “you will understand why I needed to help them because 2 of their citizens helped me escape from Turkey in 1971.

    • You are supposed to spend $15 on Tom’s book (ISBN 978-1-68489-113-9 ), 80 pages in large print. It came out in May, self-published of course, and going by the index, there’s no “we found it” chapter. It’s just a story, and it would have benefitted from better editing.

      If anyone here has “Kindle Unlimited”, they can look at it for free and write the very first review. Does it have a map?

      • there is no we found it chapter because at this point we haven’t, but it’s there, I would stake my life on it. My book is not about making money. Quite frankly I don’t really care about making money. I’m 83 years old, had lots of life experiences, and searching for the Whitebird is one of them, You can criticize me if you like I am a working-class man living alone because my wife died. with no home of my own, I live in a rented one-bedroom apartment in Florida on a lake with all kinds of wildlife and happily living on $700 a month on $SSI Writing my book about the Whitebird is not going to make me rich, although I was happy to receive a finalist award for it from Pacific book awards. The bottom line here is Whitebird has been missing for over 95 years and no tangible evidence has emerged as to where she went down, WHY is that? No wreckage, no bodies no engine no propeller, and no fuel tanks I find that hard to believe. Over 12 people heard a plane in the fog over Washington County Maine on the 9th of May 1927 when there were no planes in Maine, one stating that it couldn’t have been Lindbergh
        because it was going the wrong way and then he heard the engine stop.
        well, guess what it puts it right where my informant says it is. and I believe him. He told me it has messed his life up having to carry the guilt of what his ancestors did to Nungesser and Coli and to shut up about it. They were heroes he said they did something no man had ever done before and they didn’t deserve to die. When I was only eight years old I went to school and they asked me to write an essay so I wrote about the Whitebird that I had heard about behind closed doors when I went home all proud of my work m y grandfather ripped it up in front of me, DONT YOU EVER TALK OR WRITE ABOUT THAT WHITEBIRD AGAIN its affected me all my life I want it found he said but there are people in my family who don’t, they prefer to let sleeping dogs lay. Let’s face it whoever didn’t want the Whitebird found, made a damn good job of it. Are we going to let this mystery go on for another 95 years because you don’t believe my informant, his ex-wife, and me, a dumb limey who writes award-winning books but remains poor.? Anyone out there who is so hard up that can’t afford a $15 copy of my book after I put 4 years of my life into it trying to bring you the truth can visit me on my dock and I will gladly give you a copy for free. I’ll say to some of my jealous friends out there, who keep poo-pooing my story, that it is the truth as it was told to me and I find it hard to believe 2 divorced people who hate each other and won’t talk, tell me, a complete foreign stranger with a funny accent this incredible story. I have done my job, you can believe it or not. At 83 years old I’m not going back there alone without volunteers and the right technology to find the mound. My thoughts about it are these, I can put you within 100ft of the Whitebird assuming my informant is not lying and I don’t think he is. he put his finger on the map. The reason there is a mound is because the water table is only 2 inches down and they could not bury Nungesser and Coli instead they put them back in the cockpit and covered it over with elder bushes and branches Another point, I believe is, they were in a hurry to cover up what they had done because the whole world was looking for them and they had no use for bright yellow suits covered in blood so they put them in the cockpit fully clothed if this is correct their bones may well have been protected but I’m guessing. Anyway, all you tightwads out there forget about buying my book use my words here, get together a team, I will help, and bring Nungesser and Coli home. It is the humane thing to do for these heroes.

  • You are not supposed to spend $15 on my book Mendel if you visit me in Florida you can have one for free if you are that hard up, but there is no need I have told you everything you need to know about the location and what happened to the Whitebird, it’s your problem if you don’t believe me in this blog to find the Whitebird what is needed is for you to stop criticizing me, get off your fat butt and find it yourself, you obviously need the fame more than I do. Just give me a call when you have the drone and lidar and I will be right there with you to show you the way.

    • Hey Tom – just ordered your book – sorry about loss of your wife – hope to be up in Maine next year – usual work alone though when searching – can be found on Linkedin – folks will be skeptical until something is found – don’t doubt that family members believe what they told you – sometimes a story gets changed over time as it is passed down in a family – do believe that White Bird is in Washington Co – not in some pond in Canada.

      • Hey, Peter thanks for ordering my book yes there are a few armchair skeptical out there but the family made a good job of hiding it. It’s hard to believe a plane painted white,32 ft long with a 47ft wingspan could simply disappear off the face of the earth without the help of somebody. If you saw the location you would understand how they got away with it. it’s in the wooly wilds of nowhere only accessible by canoe. and in those days no law enforcement or police, you could do practically anything you want, including robbery and murder, and get away with it. The reason I believe the story is because it matches the Harold Vining account and the Scotts on Route 19 and the fact that they told me a bloody foreigner. the story You know, and I know Mainers stick to themselves and unless you were born there, you are considered a flatlander from away not to be trusted. The other reason I believe the story is Anson Berry, he heard the plane alright, but it didn’t pass over his head and crash behind the round hills like he said, it crashed before it got to him and he had to double back. And where, as a hermit did he find gold after the crash to pay for his supplies? there are no gold mines in Maine. They are a secretive bunch in Maine and I love them to death but the secret is going to come out, nothing can remain secret forever.

  • Why not check out what Tom Walker is saying to determine if his story is true or not. As for the White Bird enjoy my co-written song for free on You Tube. It is one hell of a mystery ! The White Bird – YouTube

    The White Bird – YouTube
    3:43
    Nov 18, 2019 · Provided to YouTube by CDBabyThe White Bird · Roger EydenbergThe White Bird℗ 2019 Joseph H. Pickering Jr.Released on: 2019-11-15Auto-generated by YouTube.

    Author: Roger Eydenberg – Topic
    Views: 128

    • Why not check out what Tom Walker is saying to determine if his story is true or not.

      My entire point is that it’s not possible to determine if his story is true or not because so far he does not have a shred of tangible evidence.
      If the L’Oiseau Blanc was lost over the Atlantic, there’s never going to be evidence.

      Will Ashe asked about the location, and Tom replied, “I can put you within 100ft of the Whitebird assuming my informant is not lying”. Well, why doesn’t he? If someone goes there and there’s the remnants, his book will sell; if someone goes there and there aren’t, it won’t. That’s what it’ll take to determine the truth of that story.

  • Mendel, my book is selling whether the Whitebird is found or not, stop being jealous of my book, the book is not important it was just a way for me to tell the truth and inform everybody of my research over the last 4 years, and for all that work and travel expenses surely I am entitled to supplement my SSI income, and if people don’t want my book then why have a received a finalist award from Pacific book award titles? Let’s not get away from the facts here, at least 12 people, all dead now heard a plane over Washington County in a State where there were no planes and even if by some miracle. there was a plane, they certainly wouldn’t have been up there in the fog only Nungesser and Coli would have been up there. Then there was Harold Vining who heard it going towards the Anston Berry place and heard the engine cut out, then there were the Scotts, 2 people who heard it fly over route 19. Answer this question folks, where would a plane go if it was flying 300ft with a 900 lb engine, 2 pilots, and no wind to hold it up, I will tell you, it would go down like a ton of bricks right where my informant is saying it is, and what about my informant, the only one man enough to break the family secret and tell me, a complete stranger and foreigner. the true story that matches his divorced wife Well the Whitebird may have crashed into the sea you say, well where is the wreckage and where are the bodies. there were ships and planes looking for them for months. Well it might have crashed in Gull lake in Newfoundland you say, hitting an island in the middle, so where is the crash debris? You are all spinning wheels and have been doing so for over 95 years meanwhile the real culprits have been laughing at you. Nothing has been found of the Whitebird because someone doesn’t want it found. even my informant told me that he is the only one with enough guts to break the silence and do what should have been done years ago and tell us the true story. through me. So Mendel, carry on criticizing my book and denying my story if you wish but that is not going to find the Whitebird. What is going to find the Whitebird is for a team of scientists with Lidar-fitted drones, and metal detectors to follow me back to the area and find the mound

    • I’m not jealous of your book, I advertised it here, didn’t I?

      I’m just saying there’s no real evidence in it; from your comments it seems you don’t even pin down the site, so there’s really no way for any reader to verify or disprove it (unless they “follow you back to the area”).

      Why don’t you send Sylvia Wrigley, the author of this blog, a review copy? Maybe she’d blog about it.

      • Of course, there is no evidence in it, they buried it to make sure there is no evidence and they have had 95 years and a remote place to keep it hidden. The family has been laughing at you/ us all this time knowing that it would be very difficult to find and prove anything. Do you think they would want a bunch of flatlanders roaming around, out there, finding the bodies of Nungesser and Coli riddled with bullets and spoiling the family name of their grandfathers? No, I don’t think so, The sad part is that even my informant was told to stay quiet about it from his early childhood until the guilt of it made him tell his wife and me. While you sit there behind your typewriter poo-pooing my story, basically saying I and my informants are liers, the conspiracy goes on¨ and the Whitebird will never be found. This argument can quickly and easily be settled by us going back with modern equipment, sniffer dogs, lidar drones, and inflatable boats. with photographers to film the work and Ito invite anyone with that kind of experience to come along and join us and help find the Whitebird. It’s time to stop armchair criticizing me, get off your butt, and come join us so we can give Nungesser and Coli the respect and the burial they deserve.

        • I may only have a humble typewriter to go online with, but I can read right here in your comments that the area is “only accessible by canoe”, but apparently also by “inflatable boat” or maybe even “by oxen” or by “a raft and tow it up the stream”. There’s a “mound” there, but it’s entirely hidden because “the grass is 6ft high” in an area where “the water table is only 2 inches down” (presumably quite flat), how do you float a raft on 2 inches of soil btw? and if you can put me “within 100ft of the Whitebird”, all I’m going to need is an afternoon with a metal detector and a spade to find Nungesser’s remains even if the mound is gone. It’s better than lidar, because that can’t actually see through vegetation, so with dense 6ft high grass, it’d be useless. (You know you can cut grass, right?) And there’s no “sniffer dog” alive that can find 100 year old bones beneath the topsoil in an area teeming with wildlife. Your own story doesn’t add up.

          I must admit it’s entertaining, though.

          • Mendel, you are going to eat those words when we find the Whitebird. The location has gone back to nature but is not teeming with wildlife only tall grass, Elder bushes, flies and mosquitoes and dogs have been known to sniff bodies from thousands of years ago in Egypt. Everybody who was there on the 9th of May 1927 are now dead and the family has been successful in protecting their name ever since and it was easy for them to do n that largely inaccessible place, having been there, better than having money in the bank I would say. Yes if you go to the location where according to my informant there is a mound and where he pointed to on a google map all you would need is a metal detector and a spade but I can tell you from experience, that you can’t just go there willy-nilly and expect to find the Whitebird and you can’t just go there and cut grass on somebody else’s land without permission. Contrary to what you believe, those old-timers were quite resourceful, they had to be, they desperately wanted that 12-cylinder engine to cut trees with and could have hidden it under bushes until winter before pulling it out on a sled across the ice everything ices up there in the winter. So Mendel keep laughing on your armchair about the efforts of others, who don’t talk about searching for the Whitebird. but keep acting on the information available. Please keep your negativeness to yourself and let the real men do their work. I will make this promise to you and the world, that if the last resting place of the Whitebird is not found where I say it is, I will withdraw my book from the market and donate any profit from it to charity.

  • Mendel, I don’t think my good friend Tom Walker wrote the book to be entertaining. Tom has an earnest desire to encourage others to help find the White Bird and the Aviators. He believes they are heroes. I believe he hopes their remains should be returned to France where they can be honorably buried. Who really knows where the exact location? The informant does. May that person have the further courage to come out and tell the full story and its exact location. Tom gave his word to that person not to reveal his name or his family. In my opinion that shows Tom’s honesty and integrity. Tom isn’t going to make much from his book. Glad it is entertaining Mendel to you and in general the public. But, I hope Tom’s book entices and encourages others to look, find, and solve this mystery. There is no money reward for Tom in that. At 83 Tom’s reward will be heart felt.

  • You are exactly right Joe, that’s how I feel In 1971 I was a young tour guide with a contract from the Turkish Government in London to take tourists to Turkey overland in a Landrover for adventure holidays, and when I got there the government had been overthrown, as leader of my group, I was arrested for supposedly insulting the Turkish Government, a ridiculous charge considering the fact I couldn’t speak a word of Turkish. To cut a long story short, I managed to escape with the help of 2 beautiful French girls and managed to crash my Landrover across a river bridge into Greece, as written in my award winning book ¨Run toward the blazing sun¨But please everyone, this is not a plug, dont buy my book unless you like true, real life adventure stories.My point in telling you all this, it is because of that book, and the help I got from those French girls, that convinced me I needed to pay back France by finding the Whitebird for them and that is why my Whitebird book was written. Its time to put right the terrible wrong that was done to Nungesser and Coli and take them home.

  • Hello my name is Jim I am leaving in a week and a half to go to machias for work. I have some free time and plan on bringing my metal detector to search for historic relics. If you think you know the actual coordinates you can email me privately and I will tell you more about myself and I will go search the area for you as long as it is not on private / posted property

  • If you take these men at their word; it is unlikely they carried gold or
    medals. Quote: Nungesser at take off- “We leave here broke, risking our lives.” Quote: Coli- “If the Americans want my passport, l’ll turn back. We’ve dumped everything, even our money.” I ask- ‘Who is going to choose gold or medals over life saving fuel and landing equipment?’ These men were professionals. I also question a region where planes ‘barely exist,’ suddenly pulling two search planes out of thin air; notably one of which crashed, not forgetting Lindbergh’s own plane that flew by. Is it also credible that another plane may have been sent to the area with a film crew, to record the White Bird’s momentous arrival? Some of these accounts of sightings seem a little delayed and fuzzy.

  • You are right Geoff, Nungesser, and Coli were professionals, but even professionals make mistakes sometimes, they didn’t fill the gas tanks to the top before taking off because they were afraid they wouldn’t get off the ground, they had a small amount of gold with them to cover expenses once they reached New York and their medals were in a leather pouch under the seats. Coli´s quote about money and passport was presumably a joke and there wouldn’t have been any search planes or a film crew up in the air during a fog. it had to be Nungesser and Coli I am convinced that as nothing has ever been found of the Whitebird in other locations, the story of the Whitebird being buried and kept secret, as told to me by the divorced couple is true. and the location matches the Harold Vining account of hearing the engine cut out.

    • It is possible that an aviator/ film maker /scout plane took off an hour or so earlier and flew above the fog,- the film would be priceless. I realize that this is pure conjecture, yet it highlights the problem in concluding without doubt, that any of the reported sightings/noises were of the White Bird. Do you have a source for the information about the medals under the seats? I find that interesting and extremely risky. One would have expected them to leave them with their families. I wonder if they had any intention of returning home, and hoped for new opportunities in America?

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