The French Report
Chapter 6
The Present State of the Case

French Testimony From 1980

This testimony was the reason the Minister of Transportation requested that the Nungesser/Coli case be reopened, and was the object of an analysis in the course of Chapter 2 and especially Chapter 3. It is interesting to compare the Duchemin with the Lechevallier testimony which was examined in the chapter preceding this one. In both cases, the witnesses are now deceased, and they made their statments directly to their spokesmen, who were both perfectly credible. However, if one of these two stories really concerns l’Oiseau Blanc, it necessarily excludes the other.

The Testimony of Mr. H.G. Glynn

As we indicated in Chapter 4, this testimony was collected by the French Embassy in Ireland. It is particularly important since it was presented by an eyewitness who was eight years old in 1927. The memories of a child this age may be extremely clear and deep-rooted, and sometimes even assume an importance far out of keeping with the reports of the original event. Fifty-six years later, Mr. Glynn indicated that he kept a very precise image from the scene he saw because it was a truly extraordinary event: a plane, a machine which was probably still a rarity on this coast at this time, rushing toward the Atlantic. It is normal that this event was the principal subject of the Glynn family’s conversations in the weeks that followed, especially after l’Oiseau Blanc vanished. Moreover, it may not be impossible to find among Mr. Glynn’s fellow citizens someone who remembers the affair.

Complementary Investigations in Newfoundland

A technical report on l’Oiseau Blanc compiled from periodicals and documents was distributed by firms at the time and accompanied by a photograph – a meager enough dossier, we must say – and was transmitted on the request of the provincial archivist of Newfoundland and Labrador in March 1983. Following the recent statement of a hunter who saw the debris of an airplane in a lake in the Wilderness Area, a zone of 335 square miles situated in the Avalon Peninsula southwest of St. John’s (see map), the provincial archivist hopes to have a technician from his department conduct a search. But he prudently adds that one can find several plane wrecks in this area and that there is only a slight chance that this would be l’Oiseau Blanc.

An American Report

In 1982, an American writer1 living in Maine who was researching Nungesser and Coli’s attempt obtained our address from the provincial archivist in Newfoundland, from whom he was seeking some information, and wrote us to propose an exchange of information and to suggest mutual assistance. The Minister of Transportation then ordered the Transportation Counselor2 from the French Embassy in Washington to make the necessary contacts. The latter had an interview with this writer in February, 1983. The writer reported a story about the possible crash of an airplane in an area which is still very isolated and inaccessible in eastern Maine.3 The circumstances reported are troubling, and the local time indicated by the witness (if the difference between UT and the local time on May 9, 1927 is indeed the one which was used) would place this airplane’s crash fairly near the range of flight which has been postulated for l’Oiseau Blanc. Let us recall that it is probably that the region was covered in fog at the time. Knowing, however, that the probability of a diagnostic artifact being recovered now is, after half a century, almost nothing, and considering also the inhospitable nature of the site which would make any search effort very expensive,4 it seems that no concrete follow-up can presently be made to this report.

Some Final Remarks

One could not really hope to arrive at a definite conclusion in tackling this case, because the elapsed years make the known evidence more difficult to interpret, and new evidence has only a small chance of surfacing. Finally, as we have seen, the research designed to clarify such elements for this report usually proved fruitless because the documents do not exist.

The case of the disappearance of Nungesser and Coli is not closed. It has just been supplemented by some new elements, but they are not entirely determining. The author of the present document has tried to bring forth as clearly as possible the technical data which are necessary for the reader to be able to develop his own opinion. We will not go without noting that in the course of the reading certain points of the case arose which should be the subject of a complementary inquiry in order to try to clarify the evidence or to elminate such doubts as still exist. This is the case, for example, with the sighting from the submarine H.50. As it was, the author could not insist that the other people, both French and foreign, who had obliged him by answering his first correspondence, conduct new investigations which are most often long, tedious, and fruitless.

The elements which served to construct the present dossier seem to permit concluding that the probability of l’Oiseau Blanc’s crossing England and Ireland is very great, and that of a return trip capable of bringing the airplane back nearly to its point of departure is very slight. It is beyond Ireland, and not in the English Channel, that Charles Nungesser and François Coli very likely disappeared.

Clément-Pascal Meunier
October 1983

Notes
1 Gunnar Hansen. Ed.
2 Then Nicolas Durieux. Ed.
3 Townships 18 and 19 ED in Washington County. Ed.
4 A regrettably accurate prediction. Ed.

Translator’s Note Introduction Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3
Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Supplement Acknowledgements

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