The Blimp L-8: What happened to its crew?

Besides uncountable deaths, epidemics, mass killings, cruel experiments, tortures and many more bizarre things; people living in the Word War II era witnessed a number of strange and unexplained events that still haunt the world, and the sory of the US Navy Blimp L-8 is significantly one of them.

The Blimp L-8: What happened to its crew? 1
© Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In February 1942, one of the United States’ oil refineries was attacked by Japanese force in Santa Barbara, California. Due to fear of getting more attacks to its western costs, US Navy responded this event by sending out several large blimps to monitor enemy activity along the coastline.

On August 16, 1942, a Navy Blimp called the L-8 designated “Flight 101” took off from Treasure Island in the Bay Area on a submarine-spotting mission with two pilots.

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Ernest Cody | Charles Adams

The pilots were 27-year-old Lt. Ernest Cody and 32-year-old Ensign Charles Adams. Both were experienced pilots, but this was the first time that Adams had flown in a small blimp such as an L-8.

An hour and a half after takeoff, at 7:38 am, Lt. Cody radioed squadron headquarters at Moffett Field. He stated that he was positioned three miles east of the Farallon Islands. Four minutes later, he called again, stating that he was investigating a suspicious oil slick, and then they lost the signals.

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Navy Blimp L8/HistoryNet

After three hours of radio silence, the blimp unexpectedly came back to land and collided in Daly City street. Everything on board was in its proper place; no emergency gear had been used. But the pilots? The pilots were vanished to be never found.

The blimp was noticed by several witnesses in the area drifting for several minutes. One woman’s house was nearly hit by the blimp. It dragged across her roof and then landed in a nearby street of the city. Fortunately, no one on the ground was injured.

Daly City officials were on the scene within minutes. They discovered that the blimp’s helium bag was leaking and the two men on board were missing. A search of the gondola left investigators perplexed. The door was latched open, which was highly unusual mid-flight. The safety bar was no longer in place. A microphone hooked to an external loudspeaker was dangling outside of the gondola. The ignition switches and radio were still on. Cody’s hat and a briefcase containing top-secret documents were still in place. Two life jackets were missing. However, no one saw them drop from the craft. The blimp was soon named the “Ghost Blimp” because of how the men vanished without any explanation.

A navy investigation discovered that the blimp had been seen by several ships and planes between 7 and 11 am on the day of the incident. Some were close enough to see the pilots inside. At the time, everything appeared normal. On August 17, 1943, both men were officially presumed dead.