Published On: Sun, May 10th, 2020

White Bird plane mystery: How YOU could help solve 90-year-old riddle | World | News

While many theories exist with conclusions to some of the world’s most notable disappearances, there is one unsolved case that has puzzled investigators for 93 years. French aircraft L’Oiseau Blanc, which translates as ‘The White Bird’, vanished during a world-record attempt to be the first plane to make a non-stop transatlantic flight. Authorities lost contact with the plane, which was piloted by World War 1 aviators Charles Nungesser and François Coli, as it travelled from Paris to New York, US. Had they reached their final destination, they would have claimed the $25,000 (£20,000) – the equivalent of $370,000 (£298,000) ‘Orteig Prize’. Aviation mystery expert Ric Gillespie told, that the flight was so significant that had it been successful it would have “drastically changed the course of history”. The last eyewitness accounts obtained by TIGHAR, his team of researchers, pinpoints the aircraft to Newfoundland, Canada. His last shred of hope lies in the UK, as he believes a member of the British public may have the answers that could finally put this nine decades old mystery to rest.

The White Bird plane departed Paris in 1927, where it safely made the journey across the English Channel, over the south-west tip of England and across to Ireland

From there it would have made the flight across the Atlantic Ocean to Newfoundland, in Canada, before jetting down to New York – but where the plane ended up is actually unknown.

Ric Gillespie has investigated historic plane disappearances for decades and stated that the disappearance was a “huge hinge point in history”. 

He told “If The White Bird would have reached New York, as it should have, it would have won the prize but not only that.

white bird mystery disappeared britain england

The White Bird vanished during an attempt to make the first nonstop transatlantic flight in 1928 (Image: GETTY)

the white bird mystery england britain solve plane

If The White Bird hadn’t vanished and became a great mystery it may have drastically altered history (Image: GETTY)

“If that happened, the Charles Lindberg wouldn’t have flown across the Atlantic and all of these other important moments in history would have happened differently.

“All of those people in the US that were inspired by Lindbergh’s success – he won the Orteig Prize – would have been doing something else and the aviation crown would have gone to Paris.”

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), who made pivotal discoveries believed to have solved the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, took it upon themselves to investigate.

The organisation also believes that they know the whereabouts of US big band leader Glenn Miller after he vanished over the English Channel toward the end of World War 2

The team’s research into the White Bird mystery uncovered more than 17 sightings and hearings about a plane crash over Newfoundland, Canada.  

JUST IN: Glenn Miller: Real reason VE Day-era musician disappeared revealed

the white bird mystery england britain solve plane

The newspapers from 1927 when The White Bird plane disappeared during a transatlantic flight (Image: GETTY)

Five of those were testimonies that were made under sworn oath to a local magistrate within several days of the disappearance.

Armed with metal detectors, TIGHAR travelled to Gull Pond in the Canadian Province, where claims of “trailing white smoke” in the sky and the sound of three rapid explosions had been reported. 

They were able to find “a badly oxidised half-cylinder” of metal that appeared to have the remnants of “blue-ish-grey paint”, which could match The White Bird.

They investigated the accounts of Patrick ‘Patsy’ Judge, who claimed he had seen “parts of a plane” at the time but later confessed that in 1932 he collected chunks of it.

During a dispute over “whether he had been the first to investigate” the rumoured “plane in the pond” – as locals referred to it – he gave a piece of the aircraft to an Englishman.

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the white bird mystery england britain solve plane

Charles Nungesser and François Coli hoped to do the first nonstop transatlantic flight on White Bird (Image: GETTY)

Ralph Martin, a Briton visiting the Cape Shore, was asked to verify the piece in 1947 and took it back to England where he could seek expert advice from Avro Lancaster factory, near his home in Yorkshire.

Mr Judge allegedly received a letter stating: “It was undoubtedly a part off the undercarriage of the plane called either the Blue Bird or the White Bird.” 

But no official document ever materialised because “the manufacturers concerned had a fire” and “the correspondence in question was destroyed”.

Ric Gillespie, of TIGHAR, claims that if this letter existed it could have solved the mystery in the Forties and that someone in the UK may actually be able to solve it today.

He told “We think the White Bird made it as far as Newfoundland, but we believe it was a biodegradable plane, which is why we have struggled to find the wreckage.

“However, there may be a rusted engine somewhere in Canada, from which a piece of the wreckage was found and sent to England.

white bird mystery disappeared britain england

TIGHAR found pieces of metal with blue paint spots that could be from the White Bird plane wreckage (Image: TIGHAR)

“What I’m trying to do is find out if there is anyone still around who worked there, knew about the engine piece verification or who may have a copy of the letter.

“Allegedly they identified it as The White Bird plane but the letter was lost in the fire, so maybe someone knows more about it from the time the document was written up.”

Ric claimed that someone may even have physical evidence from this missing aircraft. 

He told “So we are looking for anyone who may have known about this or has any information about it. 

“Someone may even have a piece of this wreckage.

“If this was to come out it would solve a mystery bigger than Glenn Miller or Amelia Earhart combined.”

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