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 on: January 11, 2018, 02:54:38 PM 
Started by Richard Lyon Metzger - Last post by Dennis M Spragg
The History Detectives program was a pleasure to appear in and assist. I was concerned because of having a forthcoming book but the producers agreed not to touch about 90% of what I was preparing. They preserved the integrity of the book, for which I was very grateful.

So, for example, they drew a line to not include the conclusive information about the Lancasters that I already had and, as with the Anderton logbook, they opted to present a 15-20 minute "bump" in flight time for the C-64 to the southwest along the required transport route rather than completely throw dear Roy Nesbit under the bus. Roy was still alive when the program segments were recorded during the summer and fall of 2013 and he passed in the spring of 2014 before the episode aired on PBS (July 2014). But I already knew the Lancsters were completely out of the picture, given BST vs. GMT and the clearly evident AAF and RAF documentation for that day. I knew at the time the Lancasters were all back at their aerodromes by 14:45A and the jettisons were all logged in squadron records between 13:04A and 13:21A, with some errant drops to the east and north of the jettison coordinates right over the western transport corridor and a ferry flight of Ninth Air Force L-1 aircraft, which was reported at the time, even in the February 1, 1945 issue of Stars and Stripes. The 149 Squadron Lancaster with Fred Shaw aboard, the navigator who claimed to see a Norseman go into the water, was back on the ground at Methwold and logged in at 14:20A.

The producers spent considerable time with the alleged clandestine operations angle for Miller, considering that the AAF Band was billeted in Bedford along with many BBC operations and Bedfordshire was coincidentally the location of some special operations activities. The closest Miller got to anything resembling anti-enemy activity were Office of War Information Voice of America ABSIE (American Broadcasting Station in Europe) broadcasts in the German language, which he did not speak. ABSIE was the wartime London-based European Service of the VOA.

One thing the producers also did that I appreciated was the hands-on visit with a flyable Norseman in Canada and I will never forget the pilot telling us that ice can easily form in the engine (and all over the aircraft) and that the old float-type carburetors originally on the plane were nasty. That and getting into a Lancaster did quite a bit to further my hands-on appreciation for the aircraft involved.

But the History Detectives episode is a mostly OK introduction before getting into further detail and the book.



 on: January 11, 2018, 11:15:39 AM 
Started by Martin X. Moleski, SJ - Last post by Dennis M Spragg
Dear Martin,

I've sent along an AAF navigation chart to Ric showing the air transport route and corridors and discuss this at length in the book (the chart is also published in the book). Although we know the route Morgan was required to fly and that he was well experienced doing so in the three months leading up to the accident, we cannot, of course, dismiss with certainty that Morgan might not have gotten himself cross-haired under a lowering ceiling in adverse conditions and over water. Eighth and Ninth Air Force non-operational (non-combat) flights were routed west of London to keep them segregated from combat operations and to avoid the Diver Defense Zone east of Beachy Head. The actual routing out of Bovingdon, where the daily scheduled Air Transport Command European Division C-47 passenger service out of, was Bovingdon-Maidenhead intersection-Dorking-Langney Point over England. Then there were two corridors, one to/from Dieppe and the other St. Valery. It appears that flights operating to Villacoublay generally used the western route and flights operating to Orly or Le Bourget used the eastern route. By February 1945 a direct route was opened to Brussels. A transport pilot trying to take a short cut to avoid the 66-mile over water crossing risked either being shot down by friendly AA fire or being reprimanded. One can see that cutting across in the narrower part of the channel might be attractive. I have encountered many theorists over the years who strongly suggested that this is what Morgan did. Some claimed to have located wreckage off Calais but of course never substantiated it. I've kept Morgan on course because I have no reason to suggest he was not unless he became disoriented after passing Langney Point. The military reported the sighting of a C-64 with American national insignia passing over Beauty Head during the 1430A-1445A watch. Morgan was used to the nav-aids and there is no reason to think he did not follow them. There is absolutely no reason to believe that the 22-year old Flight Officer with an officious and distracting 44-year old Colonel and superior officer seated next to him and unexpected VIP on board would deviate from the required route. However, we cannot completely dismiss that possible disorientation did not cause a weird course change over water as Morgan may have been "feeling his way" along. The late Royal Frey always told us that he frankly felt Morgan had simply flown into the water although it was 100% logical and reasonable for Eighth Air Force to pair this outcome with engine failure due to ice. And the C-64 certainly had its share of well-documented carburetor ice challenges.

Indeed, a tragic "perfect storm" of human, mechanical and environmental factors (including serious mistakes) aligned in harmony on a tragic afternoon. I strongly conclude that VIII AFSC was negligent and the accident was a great embarrassment for Eighth Air Force. Thank you for your interest and perspective and I look forward to discussing this further with you.

Best wishes,


 on: January 11, 2018, 10:51:12 AM 
Started by Martin X. Moleski, SJ - Last post by Ric Gillespie
Thank you Dennis, and let me be the first to welcome you to the rational and real world of the TIGHAR Forum.  It's an honor to have your support and participation.

 on: January 11, 2018, 10:29:01 AM 
Started by Martin X. Moleski, SJ - Last post by Dennis M Spragg
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dennis M. Spragg. I direct the Glenn Miller Archive of the University of Colorado Boulder and I am the author of the new book Glenn Miller Declassified.  Thank you to Ric and all for your kind comments and for considering the book as a resource. It is a great privilege to join your forum. I hope that my perspective may be of some value and relevance going forward.

Given my responsibility as Miller’s biographer and formal archivist, as well as the circumstances surrounding the seven decades of unsubstantiated rumors about his disappearance, I keenly value your focus on evidence rather than supposition. Dozens of opinions from the bizarre to the possible about Miller and the circumstances of December 15, 1944 have been put forward over the years. You can imagine the wide range of generally uninformed beliefs and odd personalities that I have come to know.

I have tried to address the subject as an historian rather than others who more resembled novelists. The methodology used by others was to gather circumstantial and undocumented opinion to support preconceived notions, as opposed to gathering hard evidence, corroborating scattered facts to put together a rational jigsaw puzzle. You can perhaps see why I find Ric and your team to be refreshing after dealing with many silly “conspiracy theories” for so many years, including murder, execution, cancer, clandestine activities and black market dealings; In particular, the vile musings of the truly insane Wilbur Wright and ludicrous Lancaster testimony of Fred Shaw.

Among the many positive professional reviews of Glenn Miller Declassified, it has been noted by some that the book tends toward being heavily detailed. That was a deliberate approach. With so many misconceptions about Miller even beyond the disappearance itself, it was time to fully correct the record. The late Steven Miller, Glenn’s son, drilled into me the need for fidelity to accuracy and precision with regard to his father. That is why the book stops short of guessing when hard evidence is not available and the conclusions align with a logical series of events and outcomes.

You can throw all non-aviation thories about the disappearnce of Miller into the waste basket. Regarding aviation stories, you can also eliminate the RAF Bomber Command Number 3 Group Lancasters. We know beyond any doubt they did not cause the accident. I am pleased and prepared to provide Ric and your team supporting documentation as needed and have already done so.

Ric is correct that the aircraft was an A model and not a B. I’ve gone back to my notes and at some point I was convinced the B series started but did not end at a certain point, which he has very graciously pointed out to me in our conversations. I have long thought the AAF aircraft card showing “A” was incorrect. The good news is that it is essentially the same aircraft. I have also amended my website regarding the word “routine.” By that I meant that this was a routine mission or “normal” flight (perhaps normal is a better word) that the pilot and aircraft were typically flying on a daily basis, that is, the Eighth Air Force Service Command trips between England and France to support Far Shore operations, as well as flights on the continent. The point is that the aircraft was employed for regular or “routine” cross-channel flights using a designated air transport corridor on a generally daily basis without any loss of equipment or people until December 15, 1944. We can certainly argue whether the C-64 was the right aircraft for a cross-channel mission in marginal weather conditions, but that is the liaison equipment that VIII AFSC had available to them for scheduled courier and special passenger or light cargo trips. They went back and forth almost every day to and from the Far Shore.

About the aircraft color scheme, before August 1, 1944, Burtonwood was in the habit of applying theatre paint (olive/gray) to the transport aircraft upon arrival from North America. 44-70285 was flown from Cartierville, Quebec to Newark for shipment to the ETO in silver matte, based upon normal Noorduyn and AAF delivery procedure.  44-70285 could possibly have been delivered from Burtonwood to Eighth Air Force Service Command in silver matte without the olive/gray application, but I could not find any evidence of this for the book. We have never located a confirmed photo of 44-70285 or identified it in the background of any other photo. There is also the question of invasion stripes, which I briefly mention in the book. Friends and colleagues are of different mind. The late Royal Frey of the Air Force Museum believed they were not added since the aircraft arrived later in July 1944 and the stripes were by then being confined to the fuselage below the national insignia. Artists have long queried me and I’ve stayed safe by sticking with theatre paint and no stripes or possibly only lower fuselage stripes. But you cannot eliminate silver matte as a possibility unless there is definitive evidence to the contrary.

Thank you again to Ric and Tighar. Major Glenn Miller was a consequential patriot and you honor him by your informed interest. I welcome your insights, since we share a common interest in precision and accuracy. May I take the liberty of welcoming all of you to the rational and real world of Major Glenn Miller!


 on: January 03, 2018, 05:26:54 AM 
Started by Dave Thaker - Last post by Paul Niquette
Three years later, I am delighted to discover these comments by members of TIGHAR about the ‘model’ summarized on the solution page of WHICH WAY, AMELIA?  Inasmuch as “a model is an ordered set of assumptions,” it is always more appropriate to challenge those assumptions one by one than the conclusions derived from them. It seems doubtful to me that mine deserve to be pejorated as a ‘house of cards’.
Key Assumption: The heading taken from the Last Celestial Fix, which applies 16 degrees of intentional offset for the Landfall Navigating procedure, was toward the NORTH of the direct course of 083 degrees to Howland.
Fred Noonan’s decision was hardly a coin-flip.  Interception of the 157-337 LOP was 10 miles closer than the on-course distance to Howland – and closer still to the interception resulting from any equivalent offset angle to the south.  Then too, the turn onto final is nominally 157-67=90 degrees versus 360-337+99=122 degrees, as would be called for in the ‘Niku hypothesis’.  Either way, the subsequent course reversal by Amelia Earhart seems probable based on Atasca’s last radio reception.  By the way, the southern dogleg puts the Electra’s cockpit more than 100 miles closer to Nikumaroro.  Hmm. 

Most of the variables in the model (speeds, fuel consumption, navigating errors) are technically derived in the ten puzzle/solution entries, with individual assumptions made explicit.  Members of TIGHAR are invited to review those entries and especially to ‘perturb’ the assumptions individually.  Depending on the resulting conclusion, I shall be pleased to take a TIGHAR excursion to the Equatorial Pacific (assuming I win the French lottery).

 on: December 29, 2017, 09:32:45 AM 
Started by Martin X. Moleski, SJ - Last post by Ric Gillespie
That seems to me to be a fairly accurate taxonomy.

Agreed, except I think the various versions of bordello theory should included among the Misc. Crackpot Theories.

 on: December 29, 2017, 09:29:29 AM 
Started by Ric Gillespie - Last post by Ric Gillespie
In the Flight Plan thread, I wrote:
"The circumstances surrounding the flight are more complicated than has traditionally been acknowledged. In assessing whether the wreck the fisherman pulled up might reasonably have been the Miller aircraft we have to determine, as best we can, whether the pilot might have taken a route that put him over that area. To make that assessment we have to establish the facts that influenced his decision:
• The aircraft.
• The weather.
• His level of experience.
• The routes that were available to him.
• Human factors that might influence his decision."

Discussions of the aircraft are covered in the C-64 Norrduyn Norseman thread.
Let's talk about the weather.

According to Spragg (with sources cited):
The official "Pinetree" (8th Air Force Command) forecast for the morning of Dec. 15, 1944 (issued at 22:00 the night before)  was for 10/10 overcast over England with a stratus ceiling of 2,000 feet or lower, intermittent freezing rain, localized fog, wind South at 5 mph.
Weather over the Channel was forecast to be 6-10/10s overcast with layers up to 24,000 feet.
Conditions were forecast to improve somewhat in the afternoon, with 5 to 7/10 overcast over England with multiple layers above; intermittent freezing rain and fog.
Weather over the Channel was forecast to be 10/10s overcast with ceilings 1,000 feet or lower.

At 06:00 on Dec. 15, the airfields around Paris (Vilacoublay, Orly, Le Bourget) were experiencing instrument conditions.
Twinwood Farms, where Morgan was supposed to pick up Baessell and Miller, was closed with fog, light freezing drizzle, a 250 foot ceiling, and visibility less than 1/4 mile.
At 7:30 fighter bases in East Anglia were below minimums and closed.
By noon, conditions at Twinwood had improved to 2,000 - 3,000 foot overcast with visibility variable at 1.5 miles. Temperature was 34°F. Wind was 160° at 5 mph.

Morgan left his base at Alconbury at 13:30 and flew the 17 miles to Twinwood where he made a visual approach, landed  and was logged in at 13:45.  We don't have the weather for Twinwood at that time but it was certainly not blanketed in fog as legend would have it.  Morgan taxied in but did not shut down.  Baessell and Miller pulled up in a car, boarded the airplane, and Morgan took off.  The Norseman was logged out of Twinwood at 13:55.

At this time we don't have weather observation data for sites in southern England and along the coast but 8th Air Force air operations control had cancelled all shuttle flights to the continent for that day and the next.
The weather did stay bad and the next day, December 16, the Wehrmacht launched the Ardennes Offensive that became the Battle of the Bulge.

 on: December 29, 2017, 09:29:06 AM 
Started by Martin X. Moleski, SJ - Last post by Martin X. Moleski, SJ
"The Mysterious Disappearance of Glenn Miller" discusses a number of competing theories.

Articles like that are useless because they cite no sources.  That one has numerous errors.

I concede that the article is not as useful as it might be.

I certainly approve of citing sources.

I do find this summary of competing theories helpful:

  • Theory One: Miller had survived and later died in a bordello
  • Theory Two: Miller had died of medical conditions in a hospital
  • Theory Three: Miller's crashed due to bad weather
  • Theory Four: Miller's plane was downed by friendly fire
  • Miscellaneous Crackpot Theories

That seems to me to be a fairly accurate taxonomy.

 on: December 29, 2017, 08:14:59 AM 
Started by Martin X. Moleski, SJ - Last post by Ric Gillespie
"The Mysterious Disappearance of Glenn Miller" discusses a number of competing theories.

Articles like that are useless because they cite no sources.  That one has numerous errors.

 on: December 29, 2017, 08:05:31 AM 
Started by Martin X. Moleski, SJ - Last post by Ric Gillespie
I'm in touch with Dennis Spragg and he has provided us with some of the documents he has agreed to share with us.  I like Dennis. He's a passionate Miller fan and has done the best research on the disappearance to date, but in his writing sometimes the line between what is documented to be true and what he believes to be true gets fuzzy.
Somewhere he got the idea that 470285 was a C-64B, but if you go to you'll see that the aircraft was clearly a C-64A produced in Fiscal Year 1944.  There were only ten C-64Bs, 2 in FY 1942 and 8 in FY 1943.  All were transferred from the RCAF to the USAAF.

It's strange that, on his website, Spragg should characterize the flight as "routine" when, in his book, he cites abundant proof that the flight was anything but routine.  To be charitable, maybe he meant that Miller accepted the ride believing it to be routine.


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