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err

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 #1 
I'm looking for information on the C-78 (42-58475) that went down in Western North Carolina on 1/31/44. I have read Associated Press articles dated Sept 7 1946, Sept 10, 1946 & Sept 11 1946 stating the wreckage had been found. I have also read an article from Maryville Times dated Jan 23 1947 making reference that the C-78 is still missing. According to aviation reports that I have found, the plane is still listed as missing. I have exhausted google search, have requested accident/other reports, and have just ordered the book - Aircraft Crashes In The Smky Mtns N.P. 1920-2000 - by Jeff Wadley / Dwight McCarter.

Some questions I have:
1. Is the plane still missing?
2. If so, what plane crashed / found in 1946 prompted the press to think the C -78 had been found? And was a retraction ever ran in the papers explaining the error?
3. What other planes went down in the general area?
4. And if the crash site has been found, when? Any details?

Any help, information, or advice would be appreciated.
please feel free to email me also.

--ERR
Brad

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 #2 
Hi,
Welcome to the Board.
Sorry, I don't know anything about this particular crash but the AAIR website had this. You could order the Air Force report on the incident from them for a modest fee. http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Brad

440131  UC-78 42-5847536PMS 74TRGMorris Field, Charlotte, NC 3 KMIS 5 Bumberg, Irving USANC Unknown 
JR

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 #3 
I have an extensive archive on missing planes within the United States.  Several years ago, when Tony Mireles was researching his volumes on WWII USAAF stateside crashes, he asked me to provide him information on some of the hundreds of missing aircraft that were not found by the end of the war. Many of these aircraft were not found until decades after the war ended, but the US Air Force never closed many of the wartime missing plane reports. This UC-78 was one of them.

What my research found basically confirms what you have found.  In September, 1946, two lumberjacks found what was thought to be the wing of the missing UC-78.  This reopened the search that involved the first use of a helicopter in a civil SAR operation.  There was confusion whether the missing UC-78 was actually found and the media actually reported it found. But what was found was the wreckage of another UC-78 that crashed in the same area in 1943. I have not been able to find which aircraft this was though it was a previously recovered crash site and I could not find whether an article making a retraction or correction was ever made in the media.

In January, 1947 the Air Rescue Service reopened the search with military resources that included two helicopters. Again, nothing was found.

So, as far as I can tell the UC-78 has never been found. I have the book on aircraft crashes in the Great Smokey Mountains that you just ordered.  It is an excellent resource. It also states that the plane has never been found.

A side note.  There was another plane involved with the research at Oak Ridge that vanished in the Smoky Mountains, a Model 17 Staggerwing that vanished on a flight on 12 August 1944.  That one was also the subject of an extensive search that lasted well into the post war years. It was finally found by hikers in January, 1947.

What Tony and I found was that there are hundreds of wartime accident reports involving missing planes that have never been closed out even after the missing plane was found.  We found many of the so called "missing planes" were found within a few years after the war and in some cases, as many as 35-50 years later. It appears that when the US Air Force came into existence in 1947, they did not follow up or close out old USAAF missing plane reports.
err

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 #4 
Brad & JR,
 Thanks for the information - very helpful.

 Brad, I have submitted a request for those records, awaiting an email response on what is available and cost.

 JR, very helpful information. I plan on researching the other crashes that were confused with / found near the suspected area of 42-58475 in hopes of gaining more information about the missing C-78.
huron1988

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 #5 
I believe that one of those planes may have either gone down or been found (can't remember which) during the search for Gen. Wurtsmith's plane that went down on Cold Mountain in 1946. I'll check my records and get back to you.

See this post: http://pacaeropress.websitetoolbox.com/post/cold-mountain-nc-wurtsmith-b25-crash-5234970

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Jeff Benya
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AAIR

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 #6 

The accident report on 42-58475 indicates they searched for the plane again during the investigation of:

Date

ACType

AAFSN

Sqdn

Grp

STA

AF

Action

D

Pilot

Cnty

State

Location

450408

TB-17F

42-6133

 

3704BU

Kessler Field, MS

 

KCR

4

Henkel, Richard C

USA

TN

27M NE Tellico Plains, TN

I did a brief scan of this report and did not see any mention of the additional search.

 

The plane the wing section was found from in Sept 1946 was:

Date

ACType

AAFSN

Sqdn

Grp

STA

AF

Action

D

Pilot

Cnty

State

Location

430813

AT-17

42-004

  

Greensboro, NC

 

KLoC

5

Brennan, James F

USA

NC

2 Mi W Maggie, NC


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Craig AAIR, Aviation Archaeological Investigation and Research http://www.aviationarchaeology.com
err

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 #7 
Thanks AAIR. I got the report and will be going through it over the next few days.
Looks like I also may need to study the find of the AT -17 (42-004) as the search for it seems to have connections to the missing UC -78.
sailor50

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 #8 
It looks like they found the wreck on 10 Sep 1946 near Rattlesnake Cove a few miles from Waynesvile, NC. They removed four bodies and identified them as the crew and Dr Carleton E. Haigis. His grave is on Find A Grave, listed as Arms Cemetery, Shelburne Falls Mass. Looks like it was 5 miles from another C-78 which crashed in August 1943.The Shamokin News-Dispatch has the body recovery in their 11 Sep 1946 issue.
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John Madden
JR

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 #9 
You need to read the rest of this thread. That find ended up being a false report. The UC-78 Is still missing.
sailor50

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 #10 
OK, I did read it all and I admit it is quite confusing. So if they reported they found the four bodies, and there is a grave for the civilian (Dr CarltonE. Haigis) (Check Find A Grave), how did they find his body and not the others? And if not him, whose body is in his grave? I am interested  because there was talk it might have crashed near the Tellico Plains TN B17. Thanks, who knows?
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John Madden
err

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 #11 
Glad to see this post gaining some new interest.
there were several planes that went down in that area and all within a relatively close timeline, which can add some confusion to the matter. To summarize the activity surrounding that area and time frame:

8/13/1943

AT-17  42-004 crashes IVO Maggie Valley, NC.

late 1943

AT-17  42-004 crash site discovered 2 miles West of Maggie Valley, NC.

1/31/1944

UC-78  42-58475, in route to Lebanon TN from Morris Field (Charlotte) NC goes missing. Departure Time:0942. 4 people onboard.

8/12/1944

UC-43 Army Beechcraft #825 goes missing in area.

4/8/1945

B-17  42-6133 goes missing in area.

4/14/1945

During search / accident investigation for the B-17, a ground search IVO Tellico Plains TN is also conducted for the missing UC-78.

9/1/1946 (est.)

Hunters find a wing fragment in the mountains near Maggie Valley NC.

9/7-11/1946

News Papers falsely report finding the missing UC-78, word of the find reaches the families of the missing and they contact the USAAF for answers.

9/9/1946

USAAF dispatches a team to Maggie Valley to investigate the wing portion area IVO where it was found.

9/11-13/1946

USAAF and locals search near Maggie Valley NC where wing portion was found. Searchers find other signs of wreckage including another wing section and debris. All wreckage, including the wing portion originally found by the hunters fall in the crash path and was determined to be from the AT-17 that was recovered in 43/44 (?). During the search, no signs of the missing UC-78 were found.

1/19/1947 (est.)

Hikers find traces of a plane crash near Wolly Tops Mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains N.P.. While at first, it was thought to be the missing UC-78, it was determined to be the missing UC-43 #825.


Hope this helps. Glad to discuss further with anyone interested in locating the officially still missing C-78
sailor50

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 #12 
Thanks to all replying. I am researching the crash of B17 42-6133 that crashed on Whigg Knob, near Tellico Plains, TN on 9 April 1945 (EST). (Some accounts have it crashing on 8 April 1945) I visited the site in the 1960s and the only thing left were small pieces of aluminum. My cousin worked for the forestry service and knew where it was. According to reports, most of it was removed around 12 Apr 1945 and taken to Warner Robins AAF for salvage. I am putting together a web site, flyersfate.com if you would like more information. Plan to visit it next month and hope to visit on the 75th anniversary this April, 2020.

I became interested in the crash of this UC-78 that crashed on 31 Jan 1944 because the Waucheesi fire tower observer saw a fire on a mountain near Whigg Knob on that night and thought it might be it. A fire crew was dispatched to look at it but never made it as a hard rain came and put the fire out. However, after the crash of the B17 a year later, it was brought up again and 2 searchers actually went to the area and found about 7 acres burned but no trace of an airplane.

The UC-78 is a confusing case as many sources say it was never found. However, from what I have read, it was located on 10 Sep 1946 about 5 miles from the other UC-78 and the bodies were removed to Greenville AAF. (The North Adams Transcript, Mass, 11 Sep 1946.) (Newspapers.com). There is a grave listed in Find A Grave for Dr Carleton Deane Haigis, the civilian Oak Ridge scientist, on the plane. 

I did see they started a new search in 1947 for the UC78 which makes this confusing. For now, plan to concentrate on the B-17. As a matter of interest, four airplanes have crashed within 5 miles of this B17 (42-6133). An F51 on Big Huckleberry Knob on 27 Apr 1952; a C141 on Johns Knob, 31 Aug 1982; and a T45C near the Tellico Plains fish Hatchery/Pheasant Fields Picnic area on 1 Oct 2017. 

Who knows, a long time ago. I grew up near Tellico and those mountains are rough and pretty hostile to hikers and airplanes.

John Madden



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John Madden
err

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 #13 
I had researched that grave site (never visited in person) and the photos of the headstones that I saw was that of Haigis' father (Louis Thomas Haigis)-the father's is the taller headstone. Other marked stones at that site are of the Doctors mother - Altie Haigis and a sister - Marjorie. I could never find a stone marked for Carleton Hagis. The write up on the find a grave website stating that his body was recovered is based off of AP news releases from late 1946...

As for the 1946 news papers articles (story shared across many local papers through the AP) stating that this specific c-78 was found were erroneous; some of these papers did address this incorrect reporting, for example, the Maryville Times (Blount Co. TN) did a follow up on January 23, 1947 where they stated   "...It was first thought the wreckage might be that of the AC-78, a twin motor craft with four passengers, missing since Janaury, 1944..." . And not every paper ran an update or correction, by the time the Army Air Force released their findings of which aircraft (and persons) had actually been found, it fell from the interest of some of the papers. So those false news paper reports still surface today when researching.

I have a few notes on your B17, even visited Robins AFB a few times when conducting research. Ill review my notes and share if you would like. I am not too far either, maybe this year I will make my way there and pay respects for the 75 anniversary. 




sailor50

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 #14 
OK, well thanks, it is a confusing case for sure.

I have a reunion in Nashville I am going to March 6/7 and then plan to visit my brother who lives near Tellico. Hope to go see if I can find the B17 site then, just hope the leaves are not too full yet and the snakes are not out yet, ha. It was just maybe a hundred feet off a forest road. That road isn't open to the public to drive on now so have to walk in from the Cherohala Skyway. Will put some pics on here if I make it. And hope to make it back for the anniversary, just not sure as I live in Florida now. Just think something should be done, going to talk with the Tellico Historical museum when I am there and see if they are interested. Perhaps eventually get them some type of monument etc. Who knows, still trying to figure things out. Thanks for the information, and would be interested in anything you may have on the wreck.

Thank you,
John Madden

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John Madden
JR

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 #15 
Yes sir, you are absolutely right that this can be confusing. It took some diligent research to get to an accurate story, and I'm still not sure I've heard all of it. This is my narrative of this case from my Missing Military Aircraft Data Base. By the way, that was a good timeline posted by err.

31 Jan 1944

USAAF UC78B

42-58475

3

NC

Enroute from Charlotte, NC to Oakridge, TN. The aircraft departed Morris AAF at 0942 on an administrative flight in support of the Manhattan Project.  It vanished in bad weather & was presumed to have crashed in the mountains of Western NC.

An intensive search for the missing plane centered on Maggie, NC & lasted three weeks without finding a trace. This was followed by a private search in early Spring, 1944 by family members that was followed by a CAP led search in the summer of 1944.

On 1 Sep 1946, two lumberjacks found what was thought to be the wing fabric & six structural fragments from the missing UC-78 in the Maggie Valley area.  This reopened the search that involved the first use of a helicopter in an inland SAR operation in support of civil authorities. A USAAF ground team was sent in to conduct a search with local authorities on 9 Sep. There was confusion whether the missing UC-78 was actually found with the media actually reporting that wreckage & human remains were found. But what was found was the wreckage of another AT-17 that crashed in the same area on 13 Aug 1943. The search was suspended in mid-Oct after several weeks.

In Jan 1947 the Air Rescue Service reopened the search when a parachute harness thought to belong to one of the passengers was found near Black Camp Gap.  This was followed by a reported sighting of plane wreckage in the vicinity of Polls Gap in Feb 1947.  Once again, newspaper accounts report that the wing of the missing plane was found, & again this proved to be false.  Military resources this time included two helicopters. Nothing was found and the search was suspended after two weeks.  At one point there were newspaper reports that once again stated the search had found the aircraft & remains, but this proved to be false. The aircraft is still listed as missing.

Crew: Pilot 2LT Irving Bumberg, & passengers 1LT Thomas B. Wheeler, 1LT George M. Maty Jr. & civilian AAF scientist Dr. Carleton D. Haigis.  36 PMS/74 TRG.

Transport

 

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