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The mystery of Pan Am 944

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posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 11:33 PM
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On November 9, 1957, Pan American Airways Flight 7, operated by PAA-944, a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser named Romance of the Skies, departed San Francisco for Honolulu, on the first leg of an around the world journey. At 4:04 PM, they radioed their position to the Pontchartrain, the Coast Guard weather ship stationed between the West Coast and Hawaii. They were on course, approximately 1,160 miles from Hawaii. At 4:26 PM (based on several watches found on passengers that stopped at that time), the aircraft impacted the water, slightly nose and right wing low.

Three days later, after a massive search effort, 19 bodies of the 44 souls on board were found. Many of them were wearing life jackets, and had removed their shoes. The body of flight attendant Yvonne Alexander was found strapped to her seat, wearing a life jacket over her serving apron. Several of the bodies showed impact trauma from the crash, but most were found to have died by drowning after the crash. There was evidence of a post impact fire, but nothing was immediately apparent as to the cause. After autopsies of the Captain and several passengers found elevated levels of carbon monoxide, both Pan Am and the FBI began to suspect foul play. The bodies were from different parts of the aircraft, from nose to tail.

The FBI left the investigation after a fight with the CAB over jurisdiction. An investigation by both Pan Am and the CAB turned up three possibilities.

The first was the Purser, Eugene Crosthwaite. He had repeatedly been in trouble with Pan Am, and blamed them for catching tuberculosis before the war among other things. His wife had passed away from cancer, leaving him with her 16 year old daughter. He had problems with her, and called her a demon at one point. His father-in-law remembered Crosthwaite showing him some blasting powder a few days prior to the flight, but when they searched his house afterwards, there was no sign of it. The day of the flight he amended his will so that his stepdaughter was left with nothing, unless she "lived a moral and upright Catholic life". The will was found in the glovebox of his car.

Ten months into the investigation, a new suspect entered the investigation. William Harrison Payne was travelling to Hawaii to collect a debt worth less than the cost of the plane ticket there. He was a diver during the war, and had demolitions experience. He owned a hunting lodge that was losing money, and later burned down, and owed his mother $10,000. Prior to the trip, he took out three life insurance policies, including one that had double indemnity for accidental death, and two that would pay his wife $125,000.

Payne had previously been in trouble with the law for blowing up a road, after he tried to collect tolls from logging trucks driving on it, as well as shooting at a business associate.

Seven months later, his wife married a neighbor that was a friend of his. During her honeymoon is when the hunting lodge burned down. Neighbors reported that they frequently received mysterious packages and letters from overseas, with no return address on them. Payne's body was never recovered after the crash.

The third possibility was a runaway propeller. The 377 had a history of problems with the propellers. PAA-943 was forced to ditch on the way from Honolulu to San Francisco. They flew until daylight and landed in the water next to the weather ship, which lifted everyone off to safety.

The FAA issued an emergency AD to check the oil transfer tube and bearing in the prop dome. Instead of bolting it in place, Boeing brazed it. The AD required inspections and repairs to be completed by May 31, 1957. According to the CAB, 944 never suffered a runaway prop, but in June of 1957, two weeks after the date of the AD, 944 suffered a runaway prop on the way out of San Francisco. The crew turned around and returned to San Fran, barely clearing the hills around the airport.

Two amateur investigators, one the son of a crew member, have been doing their best to solve the mystery, but they are three years away from having access to all the material from the investigation. If they can prove that there is something new in there, the NTSB will reopen the investigation.

All around an interesting mystery, and this might be fun for us to dig into and see what we can find on our own.

www.airspacemag.com...




posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 05:39 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58
Well the important thing in suspicious crashes is who happened to be on the passenger list. In this case two people stand out:

H. Lee Clack, the general manager of Dow Chemical in Tokyo

this would be the company who made napalm and agent orange for use on human beings in vietnam - and

U.S. Air Force Major Harold Sunderland’s final destination remains somewhat unclear. Sunderland belonged to the 1,134th Special Activities Squadron and was on an undisclosed mission to southeast Asia with a briefcase full of classified documents. The Air Force would later describe Sunderland in a press release simply as an “information gatherer.”


What was on those documents I wonder.



posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 09:58 AM
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WOW....
Never knew or heard of this one.
Good read and no I too am wondering ....

S$F fine Sir !



posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 10:04 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58
Zap - S & F Thank you for this wonderful wealth of knowledge. And for helping me plan my trip down the rabbit hole this weekend!




posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 12:05 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

I wonder if there is even a REMOTE possibility that both Purser and Payne had intended to do something...

all 3 of those scenarios sounds plausible, Ridhya's input on Major Harold Sunderland is another one that piques my interest.



posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 12:23 PM
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A few years ago, I read what may have been the same story (old brain memory-matter in decay) and did some searching. I found several graphics of the Boeing 377, one which bears the name of Pan Am and appears to have been taken from one of those fold-ins we used to get in magazines like LOOK and LIFE.



I extracted the data chart in the top left of the image and then after reducing the whole, attached it to the top for reference purpose.

Thought this might be a good fit here.

Best


edit on 30-10-2015 by redoubt because: typo



posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 04:20 PM
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Sorry out of curiosity why is this not just an early case of hypoxia ala Helios 522 and possible MH370? Even to this day unregulated leaks cause the hypoxia issue. Look at how Helios 522 landed (fairly level, into a mountain) and the similarities to this one seem almost identical (Helios also deployed oxygen masks which some were wearing so there's no reason this flight couldn't have gotten that little bit further). Dunno... just curious why there are only 3 scenarios when it seems like a bunch more could easily exist..?



posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 04:39 PM
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originally posted by: markymint
Sorry out of curiosity why is this not just an early case of hypoxia ala Helios 522 and possible MH370? Even to this day unregulated leaks cause the hypoxia issue. Look at how Helios 522 landed (fairly level, into a mountain) and the similarities to this one seem almost identical (Helios also deployed oxygen masks which some were wearing so there's no reason this flight couldn't have gotten that little bit further). Dunno... just curious why there are only 3 scenarios when it seems like a bunch more could easily exist..?

Hypoxia forces you to remove your...SHOES?
On a PLANE?
And you are still able to wear life jacket, consciously?

But this raises interesting question: were shoes found?
edit on 30-10-2015 by xoenneox because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 05:12 PM
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a reply to: markymint

Mostly because, as pointed out, they were prepared for a ditching. You wouldn't be able to do that if you were hypoxic.



posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 06:03 PM
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There were some radio transmissions intercepted from the plane just before the crash,

Pan Am pilots who heard it thought they detected a "mayday" and a reference to a "missing arm," but nothing was intelligible.


Not that it matters but were the pilot and copilot male?



posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 06:07 PM
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a reply to: Cauliflower

I believe they both were. I know the captain and navigator were, but with the time that it was I doubt they would have had a female first officer yet.



posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 06:44 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

it's a really interesting case,I had not heard of it before...just a couple years until the papers are released, can't wait to see what comes out of them!



posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 07:00 PM
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Zaph,
Can those propellers be feathered? Some recips could, mostly military.
Would be important in the overspeed issue, perhaps.
Thanks.



posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 07:33 PM
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a reply to: charlyv

Yes they could. That was one of the issues with the oil transfer tube. If there was a problem with it They couldn't feather the prop because of it.



posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 07:51 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Thanks. A red-lining 28 cylinder engine has a lot more to go wrong than a turbine.
You could throw a piston right through the wing. The ability to feather such is crucial in an emergency.
It would remain a possibility for sure.



posted on Oct, 31 2015 @ 12:18 AM
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This P47 had a pot or two shot off and made it back to base.A runaway prop or one that cannot be feathered is much more dangerous.
P47



posted on Nov, 3 2015 @ 02:39 PM
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I saw a plane crash first hand a few years back, sounded like engine problems, probably a pump failure.
They tried to ditch but didn't make it. The props get bent up pretty bad even if they were feathered


edit on 3-11-2015 by Cauliflower because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 3 2015 @ 03:56 PM
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I'd go with the propeller being the cause. It is the carbon monoxide in the bodies that bothers me. I know how pressurization works on jets, but, I'm unsure how it was pressurized. I'm thinking maybe air from the superchargers. That could possibly account for the carbon monoxide. I doubt that a "hand-full" of blasting powder is going to do it.



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 08:06 PM
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Interesting update to this article that came out in January.

www.airspacemag.com...



posted on Jun, 25 2017 @ 08:15 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

so it was a mechanical issue? i quickly read the new article, ill have to re read it to see what i missed.

the fact engine parts were lodged in pillows inside the aircraft would say to me that was the cause, no a disgruntled frog man that blew up a road.
edit on 25-6-2017 by penroc3 because: (no reason given)




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