Page 9 - Discover Winter 2023
P. 9


                                      On SharpTop

                                                                                         By Charles Alexander

           It may not surprise anyone that we                   and Raleigh, NC, then turn around at
        lost over 7000 military aircraft during                 Lynchburg, head toward Greensboro,
        World War II. What may raise an                         and then back to Columbia. It should

        eyebrow or two is that they were all lost               have taken them about 3 hours to
        within our own borders during training                  complete the mission.
        exercises, and with them, some 15,000
                                                                   Unfortunately, something went wrong.
                                                                Sometime after flying over Raleigh, the
           One of them is closer than you                       aircraft went about 25 miles off course,
        may realize. On the night of February                   and was seen flying over Bedford. Local
        2, 1943, five U.S. Airmen were on a                     residents reported hearing the plane
        routine night training mission in a B-25                flying at an unusually low altitude, its

        Mitchell bomber. The mission involved                   engines roaring loudly. All witnesses
        navigation under visual flight conditions.  agreed that the engines appeared to be
        The nature of the exercise required flying  running normally, and that the B-25

        at a very low level, in order for the crew              was flying low on a straight course for
        to be able to use landmarks as a guide.                 the mountains. No doubt the wartime
                                                                blackout restrictions added to the
           The youngest member of the crew,
                                                                challenges of flying low at night time.
        21- year-old 2Lt Paul Pitt, was the

        aircraft commander, with over 112                          The crew may have been able to
        hours of flight time in the B-25. He had                discover their predicament were it
        earned his instrument rating a month                    not for a dense fog that obscured the
        earlier. They were assigned a flight plan               mountain ahead from their view. Not

        that would take them from their base                    realizing that they were off course and
        in Columbia, SC, over Florence, SC,                     not over Lynchburg, they continued

   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14