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Pittsburgh's 'Ghost Bomber' Still Missing After 60 Years

Filmet Inc.
A computer rendering of the final moments of the B-25 Mitchell bomber that crashed and sank into the Monogahela River

The Bermuda Triangle may be legendary for disappearing boats and aircraft, but the Golden Triangle has its own mysterious disappearance. 60 years ago, a B-25 Mitchell bomber sank beneath the waves of the Monongahela River. It has not been seen since. Andy Masich, President and CEO of the Heinz History Center, told Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer about the history of the so called “Ghost Bomber.”

The story began far from the rolling hills of Western Pennsylvania. Six men took off from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada and headed for Harrisburg on a routine mission to drop off parts. The plane stopped many times along the way, but as it reached Michigan, the last stop before its destination, the plane’s captain, Jean Ingram, made the fateful decision to not refuel the bomber, due to the long wait.

At around 4 p.m., the plane ran out of gas and began to slowly glide towards the ground. Cpt. Ingram decided to land the B-52 in the Monongahela to avoid damages. Unfortunately, the water was frigid, flooded, and fast moving. Ingram and another air man tried to swim to shore, only to be pulled under the waves and lost. Police boats and civilian ships rescued the four remaining men before the plane finally sank.

A search effort was launched but nothing came of it. The bodies of Cpt. Ingram and the other drowned crew member were not discovered until they washed ashore months later. After a few months of searching, the government gave up and sold the salvage rights to the plane for $10,

“This is right after World War II,” Masich said. “The United States has thousands of mothballed bombers; they don’t need another bomber.”

Since then, the B-25 Recovery Group, an organization dedicated to finding the plane, has used many methods to search for the bomber, including sonar and diving gear, to no avail.

“It’s not an easy thing to lose,” Masich said. “A 15 foot plane in a 25 foot river, but they sure did it.”

Several conspiracy theories have arisen over the aircraft’s disappearance. Many Pittsburghers claim the plane was pulled from the water at night by the government and secretly taken apart and driven off, according to Masich. Reasons for the secrecy range from Soviet Spies on board the ship, to alien bodies, given Nellis Air Force Base’s close proximity to Area 51.

Despite the lack of evidence  six decades later, Masich believes the plane, or at least some part of it, may still be found.

“I believe the B-25 is still down there and I think, in time, we will find traces of it.”

More Essential Pittsburgh segments have been heard here.

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