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Mystery in the Mon

The Search for the B-25 Bomber

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B-25 bomber in the Mon River in Pittsburgh

A computer rendering by Filmet, Inc., of the last moments of the B-25's flight prior to ditching in the Monongahela River.

Copyright © 1994 Filmet Inc.
On January 31, 1956, a Mitchell B-25 bomber, on a flight from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to Olmstead Air Force Base in Harrisburg, crashed in the Monongahela River (locally known as the "Mon"), just outside of Pittsburgh. The crew of 6 survived the crash, but two were later claimed by the icy waters of the Mon river.

What happened over the next two weeks fueled one of Pittsburgh's greatest unsolved mysteries… What became of the B-25 bomber?

In the two weeks following the crash, a search for the plane was conducted, but no trace of the B-25 was ever found. Theories about the plane's disappearance are plentiful, and are still discussed throughout Pittsburgh.

Some think the plane was carrying a secret cargo of nuclear weapons, nerve gas, Mafia money, or even Howard Hughes. Eyewitness accounts sporadically surface. The story I remember being told as a child was "Hundreds of soldiers descended to the crash site and closed the river. They guarded the banks of the river while barges came in and pulled the bomber to the surface. The plane was then offloaded to railroad cars, where it was taken to one of the local steel mills and melted down". Variations on these stories include the plane being chopped up on shore and trucked away, threats to eyewitnesses on shore, even the story of a mysterious '7th man' that was pulled from the river.

The story is such a good one that a film production company is thinking about making a movie about the Mystery of the Mitchell Ghost Bomber.

The mystery of the B-25 has endured for more than 50 years. Every two or three years, an article surfaces in local newspapers about the crash, and new eyewitnesses have come forth with "the real story."

The search still continues, headed up by an organization called the B-25 Recovery Group made up of an eclectic mix of people with a passion for aviation, boating, waterways, Pittsburgh, and, of course, a good old fashioned mystery.

Next > The Search Continues...

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