Flight 19 was a training flight with five TBM Avenger Bombers and was led by the commander Charles Taylor. There were 13 others in the flight but were all trainees. Taylor was the only experienced pilot. On December 5, 1945 at 2:10 p.m., the five Avengers of Flight 19 took off from the Naval Air Station (NAS) at Florida for a routine training.
US Navy Avenger planes similar to Flight 19
| As per plans, the flight's path was to first go towards East into the sea for 56 miles up to Hens and Chicken Shoals to practice bombings. Then they were supposed go further east for another 67 miles towards the Bahamas. At this point they would turn north and go for 73 miles. Then turn back and head straight for the Naval Base back in Florida. This way they would cover a triangular area over the sea. The triangle with the yellow line on the picture was the planned route of the flight 19. Check out Flight-19 Route and Events to know the exact route of the flight and the sequence of events that took place.
The weather over the route was reported as excellent, a typical sunny Florida day. At about 3:30 p.m., Taylor sent a message to the control tower that his compass was malfunctioning and he thought he was somewhere around the Florida Keys, which is a chain of islands in the south of Florida. So instead of heading towards East, he thought that they actually flew southwards due to compass problems.
Immediately an instruction was given from the tower to turn north and fly towards Miami, only if he was sure that they were at the Florida keys. However, Taylor's idea of being close to the Keys was wrong. They had probably gone to the East as originally planned, but for some reason he got confused. As he guided the flight more towards north, further out to the sea the avengers traveled.
At 3.45 p.m., Taylor's voice was heard again at the control towers. This time he sounded worried and confused ... "Cannot see land, we seem to be off course".
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