Has Glenn Miller Mystery Been Solved?
'Perfect storm' led to 1944 crash, historian says
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2014 4:18 AM CDT
Updated Jul 12, 2014 7:30 AM CDT
Glen Miller is seen during his service in the US Army Air Corps.   (Wikipedia)

(Newser) – The Glenn Miller mystery is getting a fresh look nearly 70 years after the beloved bandleader disappeared over the English Channel in 1944 on his way to play a concert for US troops in Paris—and a historian says newly discovered documents help explain what happened to him. An episode of History Detectives Special Investigations airing on PBS examines his disappearance, as well as the conspiracy theories that say he failed in a plot to overthrow Hitler or died in a Paris brothel. "This is a story about a guy who was in essence a rock star of his time—he was every bit as big as the Beatles or the Rolling Stones," one of the program's hosts tells USA Today. "He joins the Army Air Force to be a patriot and poof, he vanishes." Miller, who joined the Army at the height of his fame in 1942, was last seen boarding a single-engine Noorduyn Norseman aircraft in December 1944, just before the Germans launched the Battle of the Bulge offensive.

In the show, Colorado University historian Dennis Spragg says Miller died because of a disastrous combination of circumstances, the Chicago Tribune reports. Desperate to get to Paris to play for the troops who had liberated the city months earlier, Miller accepted a ride in a plane known to have a defective carburetor, in deteriorating weather with a pilot not certified to fly by instruments alone. Halfway across the channel, "the engine stops, the airplane turns nose down, and in eight seconds it's in the water. … That's exactly what the United States Army Air Force concluded three weeks after the accident," Spragg says. "You have a perfect storm of human error, mechanical failure, and weather. Not independent of one another—all three. And the plane goes down." The military failed to explain that scenario at the time, he says, because military policy precluded releasing such information.

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Jul 13, 2014 9:25 AM CDT
I did not say there was zero visibility. If, for any reason, a squadron was unable to drop it's bombs on target, the squadron returned home. The squadron could not land safely with the extra weight from the bomb load so the bombs were disarmed and dropped in the channel. 2 or 3 drop areas were assigned for each day of bombing, these were based on return flight paths and rotated so no drop area got used over and over. An entire squadron dropping bombs over a drop zone in the channel would have a pretty good chance of knocking a little single engine plane out of the sky below them. a 500 pound bomb wouldn't need to detonate to knock a wood and canvas single engine out of the sky. The documentary was on PBS and it was "Glenn Miller's Last Flight". I believe a is friendly fire explanation is plausible but I will never know for sure what happened except that Glenn Miller and his clarinet ere never heard from again. Did you read the interview in the WSJ a while back with the great granddaughter of the first officer of the Titanic about his private papers and what he wrote happened there?
Jul 12, 2014 2:45 PM CDT
In 1995 I would drive my 62 Lemans with its AM radio tuned to Glen Miller Band. A Black lacquer dash with lots of chrome and the Cherry on top was Glen Miller. Thanks for the wonderful memories Glen.
Jul 12, 2014 1:20 PM CDT
We were in the mood for some mystery solving https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJE-onnw2gM