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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Flight Plan
« on: December 28, 2017, 10:49:58 AM »

Gleaned from a post in the general discussion, the (alleged) flight plan was:

Twinwood, Bovingdon, Maidenhead, Beachy Head, Fecamp ... Paris

I have to admit that I feel the force of the objection that Portland Bill is a long way from Beachy Head.

But (by definition), something went wrong over the Channel. 

It will be interesting to see how this all turns out ...

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« Last Edit: December 28, 2017, 10:54:17 AM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »

Ric Gillespie

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Re: Flight Plan
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2017, 01:26:51 PM »

Where to begin?

Much of what we think we know at this point comes from Glenn Miller Declassified by Dennis Spragg.  Spragg's book is well-footnoted and he cites many primary source documents.  We still need to verify that the sources he cites say what he says they say, but for the purpose of these initial discussions we'll assume they do.

The popular notion that the plane was knocked down by bombs jettisoned from returning Lancasters is based on the erroneous assumption that the RAF was using GMT.  In fact, the bombers were on the ground at their home base before the Norseman could have been anywhere near where they jettisoned their bombs. We'll start with the assumption that the plane went down in the Channel due to some other cause(s).  If we find hard evidence that something else happened we'll change that assumption.

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.

More later.

Dennis M Spragg

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Re: Flight Plan
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 11:15:39 AM »

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,

« Last Edit: January 11, 2018, 10:26:01 PM by Dennis M Spragg »
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