Girish Mahajan (Editor)

1951 Atlantic C 124 disappearance

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Date  March 23, 1951
Crew  9
Passengers  44
Fatalities  53 (all)
1951 Atlantic C-124 disappearance
Summary  Controlled ditching due to in-flight fire; unexplained disappearance
Site  Atlantic Ocean, 725 km (453.1 miles) west of Shannon, Ireland

The 1951 Atlantic C-124 disappearance involved a Douglas C-124 Globemaster II of the United States Air Force which disappeared on March 23, 1951, after an in-flight fire forced the pilots to ditch the aircraft in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Shannon, Ireland. The ditching and subsequent evacuation were successful, but when would-be rescuers arrived on the scene, the aircraft and its occupants had vanished. All 53 people on board were never found and were presumed dead.


Accident details

The C-124 was on a military flight from Walker Air Force Base in Roswell, New Mexico, to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, England, with a stopover at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine. It was commanded by Major Robert J. Bell, of the Second Strategic Support Squadron (similar to the 1950 Douglas C-54D disappearance in that respect). At a point over water, some 800 mi (700 nmi; 1,300 km) WSW of Ireland, shortly after a routine position report, the pilots issued a "Mayday" call, reporting a fire in the cargo crates. They subsequently ditched the aircraft in the ocean about 453 mi (394 nmi; 729 km) west of the Irish coast. The aircraft landed safely and intact. All hands then donned life preservers and climbed into inflatable 5-man rafts equipped with numerous survival supplies, including food, water, signal flares, cold-weather gear, and "Gibson Girl" hand crank emergency radios.

A Boeing B-29 Superfortress in the 509th Bomb Wing flew in from Ireland and spotted the rafts and flares. The location was reported and the B-29 returned to base upon running low on fuel. However, when would-be rescuers (British planes, weather ships, submarine, several warships and the USS Coral Sea) arrived at the crash site over 19 hours later, on Sunday, 25 March 1951, the aircraft, along with its passengers and crew, were gone; all that was found was some charred plywood and a briefcase. The survivors' bodies were never found. Overall, the fate of the crashed C-124 and its 53 occupants remains undetermined. It is a known fact that Soviet submarines were operating in the area at the time, and it has been speculated that the crew may have been "snatched".


In 2012, more than 50 years after the disappearance of all personnel on board the plane, two men from the crash, Walter Thomas Peterson and Lawrence Rafferty, were granted graves at the Arlington National Cemetery.

On September 5, 2014, a ceremony took place at Arlington National Cemetery for 1st LT. Jack Radford Fife, a pilot with the 509th BWng 715th BSqd and one of the missing personnel of the flight.

In December, 2012 , a memorial headstone was placed in Arlington National Cemetery for Capt. Calvin Porter.


1951 Atlantic C-124 disappearance Wikipedia

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