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l'Oiseau Blanc ("White Bird")

Who: 

Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli - French pilots attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean nonstop, two weeks prior to Charles Lindbergh's historic crossing.

 
Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli

Total Persons on Board:

Two -World War I French ace Charles Nungesser and French war hero Francois Coli

When:

May 8, 1927

Weather:

 Clear to partly cloudy

Flight Route:

LeBourget Field near Paris, nonstop for New York

Area Believed Crashed:

In the north Atlantic Ocean, eastern Newfoundland, or the state of Maine

Reason for flight:

Set out to be the first to fly across the Atlantic Ocean nonstop.

Type Plane:

A Levasseur PL-8, an open-cockpit biplane, powered by a 450 horsepower Lorraine-Dietrich 12 cylinder engine, with a detachable undercarriage and a watertight fuselage that could float on water.

Search efforts: 

Despite an international search, no trace of the men or their airplane was found. About a week later, Lindbergh, flying solo, successfully crossed from west to east, and was given an immense hero's welcome by the French, even as they mourned Nungesser and Coli.

Sponsored by "Aviation Digest", Floyd Bennett, who had recently recovered from injuries stemmed from training for his trans-Atlantic attempt, flew back and forth from New York City to St. Johns, Newfoundland, for nine days from June 2nd to June 11th, 1927, with no success.  Even during the trans-Atlantic flight to Admiral Byrd's "America", the crew was searching for the ill-fated pair, to no avail.

Numerous reports have surfaced over the years from the backwoods of Maine and Newfoundland with hunters and hikers claiming to found remnants of a white airplane from the time period.  But few have been sustained their creditability.

Controversy: 

Side Note:

The fate of Nungesser and Coli are the subject of the 1999 TV movie Restless Spirits.

The search for the "White Bird" by Cussler is documented in his book, "The Sea Hunters II".

 

 

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This page last updated Tuesday, September 09, 2014

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