Looking For Lost 'White Bird' Plane From 1927 Transatlantic Flight
May 10, 2013

Looking For Lost ‘White Bird’ Plane From 1927 Transatlantic Flight

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

A Frenchman is heading up the fifth search for a plane that disappeared over 80 years ago when two pilots attempted to complete a transatlantic flight.

Rachel Kaufman, writing for the National Geographic News, wrote a report about how Bernard Decré is attempting to find the plane of Charles Nungesser and François Coli.

The two pilots, flying the White Bird aircraft, set off to fly from Europe to North America just 13 days before Charles Lindbergh completed the first solo, nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. According to Kaufman, the pilots were sighted crossing the English Channel and flying over Ireland, but they were never heard from after that.

Decré announced this week that he is launching his fifth annual search for the lost White Bird. His team has been using various tools to try and locate the plane's engine, and they have also followed up on a few promising leads. In 1927, people in Newfoundland and in Maine, as well as other more southerly locations reported finding aircraft wreckage. Also, a lobsterman in Portland, Maine said he discovered a piece of white wreckage in 1958.

Kaufman said that in order to save some fuel, the pilots tossed things from their aircraft such as a lifeboat, parachutes, and a radio. The men also threw out their landing gear. Decré believes the pilots were attempting to make a water landing, but mistook land for water and eventually crashed.

Decré is getting a little help from the aerospace company Safran in his search for the missing White Bird. Safran actually bought the company that helped to build the White Bird's engine. The aerospace company is supplying better equipment to Decré and his team to assist them with the search.

This month marks the 86th anniversary of Lindbergh's nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

In 2005, two American adventurers attempted to retrace the steps Lindbergh took on his flight. Steve Fossett and Mark Rebholz were able to complete that journey, but it wasn't the first major accomplishment by Fossett. He became the first to fly solo around the world in a balloon, as well as set the record for the fastest around-the-world sailing adventure in 2004.

However, Fossett died in 2007 during a solo flight over California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. The plane wreckage was found a year later, and DNA tests confirmed that the two large bones found belonged to him.