Advanced search  
Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: L'Oiseau Blanc Flight Plan  (Read 4548 times)

Colin Taylor

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 25
L'Oiseau Blanc Flight Plan
« on: June 23, 2023, 12:47:44 PM »

L’Oiseau Blanc Flight Plan

Now seems like a good time to review the flight of L’Oiseau Blanc.
 I have prepared a chart, a flight plan and report for L’Oiseau Blanc flight. It conforms to the known facts about the flight up to the final sighting then becomes somewhat speculative. I think it gives an insight as to what might have happened to them.

The report is a Google DOC linked here:

The Chart is linked here:

The Flight Plan is linked here:

 Briefly, my analysis is that they failed to get an accurate forecast of the winds and, like Amelia Earhart, they flew through the night and failed to allow for drift. They made landfall on the North East coast of Newfoundland but mistook their position and flew SW out into the Atlantic thinking that they were crossing the Gulf of St Lawrence.
 They were seen over Newfoundland but not over Nova Scotia or Sable Island. They flew past settlements and out to sea, therefore there was nothing wrong with the aircraft. They did not stick to the coast, so they were not where they thought they were. The timing of the sightings meant they would run out of fuel before New York and they probably ditched South of Cape Sable, Nova Scotia or South of Newfoundland, possibly after having turned back. The wreckage drifted South West and was sighted South of New York.

 Once again I would be interested in your thoughts about this.

« Last Edit: June 24, 2023, 05:05:19 AM by Colin Taylor »

Kurt Kummer

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: L'Oiseau Blanc Flight Plan
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2023, 03:35:47 PM »

Hi Colin.  This seems to be a very well researched investigation into the loss of L'Oiseau Blanc.  I don't have the experience to comment on it; I'll leave it to other TIGHARs.  I look forward to their thoughts and comments.  Thanks for your research!

Arthur Rypinski

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 52
Re: L'Oiseau Blanc Flight Plan
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2023, 07:31:13 PM »

An interesting piece. thx for sharing.  I had a few thoughts:

1) there is some not-very-reliable information about weather over the North Atlantic on May 9, 1927, which suggests:
    a) icing conditions west of Iceland;
    b) precipitation along the entire route, suggesting overcast conditions (altitude and ceiling unavailable)
    c) cross winds east of Greenland, tail winds west of Greenland;

2) This suggests (to me) that under zero wind conditions and accurate navigation, Nungesser & Coli should have arrived at Belle Isle circa 0500 GMT with tail winds, or 0700 GMT at zero winds. Instead, they turn up at Harbor Grace, 285 nm SE of Belle Isle, at 1300 GMT (9:30 am local).

3) If they flew direct to Belle Isle, then direct to Harbor Grace, they are still four hours late. Whatever the exact status of the winds, something bad happened with the navigation, and as a consequence, they now have a looming fuel supply problem. I would guess this is too much missing time to attribute just to drift.  I suspect they went to some wrong place, and then had to search or return from there.

5) Given all the lighthouses, buoys, roads chimney smoke, and other traces of civilization in the Harbor Grace area, I am inclined to suspect they had discovered their approximate location by 1300 GMT, but who knows?

6) Note your map shows a course from Trinity Bay to Placentia Bay, while the more probable sightings suggest a course from Conception Bay to St Mary's Bay.  The destination of this course is a puzzle. If they were a little farther west, I would have bet on French territory--St Pierre & Miquelon, where one could get decent wine and a proper meal. But they don't appear to have been heading to St Pierre.

7) There were sightings over Nova Scotia, St Pierre, and Maine, though the reported sightings were not especially persuasive. Nor do they seem to have been heading there.

8) Note that because the magnetic deviation close to the north magnetic pole is so large and variable as one approaches Newfoundland, an error in calculating one's position will also cause an error in heading, which is sort the definition of going from bad to worse. In particular, the declination at Belle Isle is 34 degrees west of north, while Harbor Grace is 30 degrees west of north, so, if one thinks one is at Belle Isle, one's actual course will be 4 degrees off the course one thinks one is flying.

9) There have been at least two errors of this sort--the German/Irish "Bremen" whose crew attempted to fly Ireland-Newfoundland in 1928.  They had a celestial navigator on board, but couldn't get a fix for 13 hours, and apparently didn't update their declination. When they got out of the fog, they found themselves flying above snow-covered lakes and mountains, all unrecognizable.  They headed south and eventually made a forced landing adjacent to a lighthouse on the north shore of the Gulf of St Lawrence.  The other was Korean Airlines Flight 902, in 1978.

hope this helps,


Colin Taylor

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Re: L'Oiseau Blanc Flight Plan
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2023, 08:25:49 AM »

Hi Arthur
Thanks for the response.

It looks like the chart is an after-cast rather than a forecast. It would have given them tailwinds the whole way, riding the North side of a low pressure system - which was exactly what they theorised. But it would have got them across in less than still-air time which is not what happened.

I imagine that the low pressure was further North and unfortunately they flew in the Southern sector with headwinds.

Pages: [1]   Go Up

Copyright 2023 by TIGHAR, a non-profit foundation. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be reproduced by xerographic, photographic, digital or any other means for any purpose. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be stored in a retrieval system, copied, transmitted or transferred in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, digital, photographic, magnetic or otherwise, for any purpose without the express, written permission of TIGHAR. All rights reserved.

Contact us at: • Phone: 610-467-1937 • Membership

Powered by MySQL SMF 2.0.18 | SMF © 2021, Simple Machines Powered by PHP