The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery
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Page 5

For Morgan, the biggest disadvantage to the Amber Corridor was the 67 mile expanse of water between England and France. Water landings in aircraft with fixed landing gear invariably result in the machine flipping inverted. Expected survival time in the 50°F water would be about an hour. A Channel ditching in December meant almost certain death. Minimizing the portion of the flight spent over water would reduce the risk of a ditching. The shortest crossing was via the Green Corridor with only 20 miles between Dover and Calais but that would mean an uncleared transit of the London area where anti-aircraft batteries were on high alert for incoming V-1 flying bombs. The next-best option was the 58 mile crossing from Portland Bill to Cherbourg and thence to Paris via the Western Corridor. Portland Bill was well west of the defenses against incoming “Buzz Bombs,” the small peninsula presented an easily identifiable landmark in low visibility, and the French coast at Cherbourg was in a safe zone. It would be a longer route to Paris, 402 versus 272 miles (a difference of 54 minutes at 145 mph), but they would still reach Villacoublay before sunset.

Approved Safe Flight Corridors, December 1944
Traffic originating in East Anglia bound for Brussels was cleared from the Bovingdon Control Area to the Far Shore via the Green Corridor which crossed the Channel from Dover to Calais. Flights to Paris took the Amber Corridor, crossing the water from Langney Point to Dieppe. Flights to Paris originating in southwestern England crossed the Channel via the Western Corridor from Plymouth to Cherbourg.

     Based on the currently available evidence, the wreck the fisherman reportedly hauled up cannot be disqualified as being the Miller aircraft. Is a search justified? Not yet. It may be possible to eliminate the wreck through further research without incurring the expense of a physical search. One question that needs to be answered is whether it is credible that the fabric covering on the C-64’s wings and fuselage could survive as shown in the fisherman’s sketch. The fabric on the control surfaces of submerged American WWII aircraft is typically missing, but the Norseman was built in Canada. What kind of fabric and “dope” were used?

     We’ll also need to pin down, as closely as possible, the spot where the wreck was encountered. The fisherman was using a nowantiquated navigation system called “Decca” and an early sat/nav system based on the Decca numbers. With the help of the fisherman and a nautical charts archivist at Her Majesty’s Hydrographic Office it should be possible to determine whether the location matches that of any of the currently known wrecks in the English Channel.

     Some 4,700 square nautical miles of bottom in the Western English Channel have been surveyed using magnetometers and side-scan sonar. Surprisingly, not a single airplane wreck, propeller, or engine was encountered, in contrast to numerous virtually intact airplanes found with the same technology in the Straits of Gibraltar and Mediterranean. At this time it is not known whether the surveyed area included the reported wreck location off Portland Bill. If the site has not been surveyed, and if the fisherman’s account of raising an airplane is credible, it would seem to increase the uniqueness of the incident and the possibility that it was the Miller aircraft.

     Further research is clearly needed, much of which would be best accomplished by a trip to England. TIGHAR’s ability to continue the investigation will depend upon your contributions to the Glenn Miller Research Fund.

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