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Dennis

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 #1 
For several years now, I have believed that there was an intact P-40K somewhere in a Florida swamp.  I thought this because of a 1942 newspaper story about a pilot walking out of a swamp 5 days after he had been reported as missing. This story and a possible hunt have been on my mind and "back burner" since reading about it in Bob Widner's book "Aircraft Accidents In Florida".  A recent inquiry, and the story of an airboater offering to sell the location of a P-40 in Florida moved this up my priority scale.
  I recently recieved the 31 page (yes, that's THIRTY-ONE) report from Craig at AAIR.  The story was enough to get Craig's attention too.  While the report had a somewhat disappointing revelation, it saved me a lot of hunting, gas and expenses, and provided a truly amazing story of survival.
                                                   Douglas J Lanore and P-40K #42-9876 
On the morning of November 30th, 1942, 2nd Lt Douglas J. Lanore took off from Sarasota Army Air Field at 9:00 AM for a 1 hour transitional flight.  Lanore had two hours and fifteen minutes of P-40 time when he took off.  The plane, #42-9876 had just over 205 hours total time.  It had 148 gallons of fuel on board.  The plane also had: a malfunctioning compass, a "worn jackshaft" (possibly involving the generator), and a non working fuel gauge on the reserve tank.  Lanore was to remain within visual sight of the field.
  Lanore climbed to about 5,000 feet and began performing maneuvers to get the feel of the ship.  Florida can have unpredictable weather, and around this time, clouds moved in and Lanore lost sight of the field, he was also unable to contact them on his radio.  Lanore began flying around trying to locate his field, he did find a large with a field, and upon contacting them was told to "fly west to the coast and circle".  Lanore ended up completely lost.  Some time later, he dropped through the clouds over central Florida and followed a railroad and highway until he came to a small town.  At this point, he had been on reserve and was desperate to set the plane down.  He considered bailing out, but because there didn't seem to be a suitable place to land the plane.  Lanore then noticed what looked like a "wheat field" (we don't grow wheat here in Florida).
  Lanore made a pass over the town to atttract attention, and set up his wheels down landing in the "wheat field".  The field turned out to be a swamp, and on touchdown, the P-40 nosed over on it's back in high weeds and about a foot of water.  Lanore was trapped in the now dark, upside down cockpit of his plane.  He spent the next 4 days breaking out the glass and digging his way out of the plane using the only tool he had, the hydraulic pump handle.  When he finally escaped from the cockpit, he was wet, exhausted, and didn't have any shoes.  He dug his way back to the cockpit, but was only able to retrieve his life vest and parachute seat cushion.  after fashioning shoes from his life vest, he mad ehis way out of te swamp, through a nearby orange grove, and to the first farmhouse he saw.  This took until the evening of the 5th day.  The homeowner fed him, and took him into town where he called the field and reported in.  Lanore then caught a train back to Drew Field in Tampa, and left the plane in the custody of the homeowner.  A crew later came and evaluated the plane as beyond economical repair and salvaged it.  The engine was sent to Depot for overhaul and reuse, and all salvageable parts were "placed back into stock".  42-9876 was then "surveyed" on December 19th 1942.  Lanore was given full blame for the loss of the plane, in my opinion, this was a raw deal.
  As of this time, we have yet to identify exactly where Lanore put the plane down.  Florida's landscape is constantly changing, and a current googlearth search doesn't even show any orange groves in the area.  We are currently "putting out feelers" for anyone in the area who may have heard rumors of the story years ago.  as for an intact P-40 in Florida, it isn't 42-9876.  There was a listing for a 90 year old Douglas J. Lanore in Califoornia, but it seems that he has since passed away.  If true, may God rest his soul.  Dennis Coley
paulmcmillan

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 #2 

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=rWMpAAAAIBAJ&sjid=_sYEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2508,3955562&dq=swamp-near-crescent-city-and-is-safe-*&hl=en

Tampa Dec 4 1942

Douglas J. Lanore, Grand Forks, ND, reported missing Monday on a training flight , made a crash landing in a swamp near Crescent City and is safe

Chance

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 #3 
I want to thank Dennis for posting this 6 years ago and for being available for my questions! I found out about this story in 2007 but had no way of investigating it, even though I live nearby. Finally it kept bugging me and I started looking again. This post from 2011 got me inspired again and Dennis was incredibly helpful. With some of the clues he had, I was able to find a gentleman in the area that was familiar with this incident. He could not confirm whether the entire aircraft was left, removed or destroyed, but he says it would have been extremely difficult to remove it. He had looked around himself with no luck. Though he is 90 years old, he was able to help me narrow down the area, but not a small enough area to go look for it. But it was quite an adventure getting this far in the research.

Crescent City was a small town back then, and the town of Seville was even smaller. Since it was a rural area, many homes were spread far apart, and few roads had names. Amazingly, I have compared aerial photos from 1957 (as early as I have access to) and the marsh area is still relatively the same after all these years. Infested with snakes and gators, It is amazing the pilot ever made it out!! I hope to head out that way soon and possibly narrow down the search area.

The biggest question that remains now, was any of the aircraft left behind??
Dennis

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 #4 
So Chance's email rekindled my interest in this case.  I killed an hour or so fiddling around on GE, and there seems to be a scar across the south end of this swamp - a straight line, like something was dragged across it.  the 1999 - 2007 GE images show tire tracks that exit the woods about the same place the line goes to.
My theory: The salvage crew made their way through the woods.  A cable was run out to the plane and it was dragged to the edge of the swamp for salvage of usable parts, as the crash report indicates.  Most likely, the vast majority of the aircraft was removed (report indicates it was transferred to Taylor Field near the Ocala, Fl. area for salvage).
If I'm correct, dragging the plane almost certainly left some trail of debris that could be picked up with a metal detector.  Also possible that some parts may have been dropped or left at the salvage site.  This could turn into a hunt yet.  Definitely glad there are "boots on the ground" in the area as it is a good haul from my place.  Dennis

EDIT: interesting side note: the WWII newspaper article linked in Paul McMillan's post above is right next to an article about a missing bomber (B-26).  The wreckage of that was found in the gulf a few years ago as well. 
Chance

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 #5 
While I was sleeping Dennis found a January 1943 aerial survey photo of the area I described to him. Clear as day there it was!! Some vehicle tracks around a large spot and a big wide trail out of the swamp! They apparently did recover the aircraft and dragged it out of the swamp! I am so incredibly elated to have taken part in this search and be involved with such a passionate group! All these years of wondering and dreaming wrapped in two days of exciting revelations! Its dissapointing there is no plane to search for, but just having answers is relieving! I hope to find access and photograph the area this week. I can not thank Dennis enough for his assistance, and Im very thankful to the 90 year old gentleman that gave me the final clues we needed!! I would love to help on any other chases that I can, whether its research, making contacts or jumping in the woods!!
Dennis

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 #6 
And I am equally thankful.  I had actually "put this one to rest" until I got the email from Chance the other evening.  Funny, when you come back to something fresh, you find new information.
In Florida, we are blessed with the existence of a site called "Florida Aerial Photography"  The University of Florida (Gators) sponsors this site. It is made up of old aerial photographs going back to the 30's for some.  The original reason was for tax purposes.  Bob used this site to narrow down many crash sites.  In this case, the flight was made a mere 2 months after the crash.  I had previously missed this because 3 counties come together near the site.  I had checked Putnam County (Crescent City), Volusia County (town of Seville, and actual crash site).  Last night, I decided to see if there was overlap from Flagler County (to the north). 
Bingo!  There in black and white is the trail to the site.
Chance says there has been a lot of rain, so things are gooey right now, but when it dries out some, it will be hunting time.  While the plane was definitey recovered, there should most certainly be something left - maybe even a pilot's rusty watch from so many years
  ago.    download.png     Dennis

huron1988

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 #7 
Just overlay that image onto Google Earth and get your coordinates.
The overlay is relatively easy if there are good landmarks in the photo that are still there today. Otherwise there is a fair amount of guess work, which brings down the accuracy.
Good job guys!

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Mtflyer

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 #8 

Dennis, what is the terrain like in that area and what made those tracks? 


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Joe Idoni

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ChrisBaird

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 #9 
Great detective work!
Chance

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 #10 
I would like to thank Mr Gene Byrd of Crescent City. He is the 90 year old gentleman that helped me find the farm that Douglas Lanore trekked to. He also confirmed that big marsh was the area of the crash. His assistance was vital to narrowing the search.

The photo Dennis posted is the marsh area where the plane set down. The big spot at the north is the crash site, then it is being dragged south to the shore line. You can see smaller paths around it. I have overlayed it on Google with exact coordinates (within 20 feet). If you veiw the location on Google (without satellite view) it is blue, indicating it is wetland. Those paths have to be from airboats, no vehicle could have made it in and there would be black paths from the mud churned up. The light color of all the paths indicates to me sawgrass that has been flattened by things sliding on top of it. Surprisingly that area is a preserve and is exactly as it looked in 1943, though the marsh has shrunk some.

The truly important thing to note here is that Lanore crashed in Nov, a relatively dry time of year. Had he flipped that plane in summer, his cockpit would have been filled with black water, surely drowning him. The 90 year old gentleman assures me (and my growing up in the Everglades) that swamp is full of snakes and gators! The dry ground is no safer with more snakes and gators, lol!

The mystery of the aircraft is no longer, but this story of survival is now the most gripping part of this historical search!!
Mtflyer

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 #11 

Chance, thanks for info. Those tracks make sense to me now. You guys did a good job locating the site, it would be interesting to see what you can find remaining in the area.


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Joe Idoni

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Dennis

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 #12 
I probably should add to the "survival part of Lanore's story.  When the plane flipped, he was strapped in and did have the canopy cracked about 7".  He was hanging upside down.  He released himself and fell into about a foot of water that the plane was resting in.  Obviously, the canopy wouldn't open.  The P-40K (and probably back to the D model) had an escape hatch on the left side of the canopy, but it is hinged at the bottom, and the top wouldn't open because of being pushed down into the muck. This was Monday, Nov 30th, 1942.
Somehow, he lost his shoes.  The battery still had charge, but he couldn't get the radio to work (there had been some trouble with it earlier). He did shut the master switch off to save the battery and figured he'd try signaling with his lights after dark.  The battery died the first night.
At about noon on Tuesday, when he realised that no help was coming, he began trying to break away the plexiglass from the right side of the canopy.  The only "tool" he had was the handle to the hydraulic pump.  Apparently a small amount of light was coming through the partly submerged canopy, but it was pushed down into the weeds and about a foot of water.  It took him until sometime Wednesday morning to get the glass broken out from the canopy, then it took him until the afternoon to dig a hole through the muck to try to escape through. It got cold (it was late November - even in Florida), he opened his chute and stuffed it around the openings in the canopy to keep the cold out some.        
He describes being cold and having his legs cramped to the point where he couldn't even feel his feet.  He spent most of Thursday morning trying time after time to squeeze out through the hole.  He estimates it was about 1:00 when he gave it one last try and managed to squeeze through.  When he finally got out, he found he was in a swamp with grass up to 10 feet high in places.  Again, he had no shoes.  He tried pulling his flight suit down over his feet, but tripped about every 10 feet (as he describes it).  He returned to the plane to try to recover his shoes, jacket, or anything, but was only able to pull the seat cushion and his life vest out.  He broke out the left landing light and used it to cut the life vest and fashion "wrappings" for his feet.  He describes resting every hundred yards because of being weak.  About sundown, he made it out of the swamp and into an orange grove (Florida again).  Once through the grove, he saw a light at the closest farmhouse.
They fed him, and took him into town (Seville, Fl.) where he called Sarasota AAF to report in.  He had been missing 4 days.  The crash report has reports of search parties, and "still no sign of the missing flyer".  After spending the night back at the farmhouse, he returned to Seville the next day (Friday, December 4th 1942) and caught a train (tracks had been part of the clues in finding this site) to Drew Field in Tampa (Tampa International Airport today.  An incredible story of survival.  Douglas Lanore went on to fly combat missions in Europe (I heard from his Grand daughter years ago who also came across this, but I never got the details) He passed away in 1996.  Another of the Greatest Generation.
The swamp: I know from my experiences with Avon Park that they often used "Amtracks" as crash vehicles.  The particular model, the "Alligator", was made in Florida.  These were amphibious vehicles, but anything can get stuck.  We learned on the hunt for B- 26 41-17761 (Plant City swamp) that they almost lost an Amtrack on that site when it got stuck.  My guess would be that they flipped the P-40 over, and either dragged it to the edge for salvage, or pushed dirt out to the site.  The report mentions the plane being transferred to "MOAD" (air depot?).  There is a page headed "85th Sub Depot, Orlando Air Base".  2 pages mention the plane being transferred to "Taylor Field" (at Ocala).  There is mention of the engine being sent to "MOAD" for overhaul, and "usable parts being placed into stock".
 There are a lot of tracks in the picture.  Getting "boots on the ground" should prove to add to the story.  I'm certain SOMETHING should be left behind, either in the swamp (which has changed over the years), or possibly at the salvage site.  Dennis

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