A U.S. Navy Neptune P2V-3W took off from the Jacksonville Naval Air Station during the predawn hours on September 26, 1955. Its mission: to obtain observations in dangerous Hurricane Janet in the Caribbean south of Jamaica.
The crew of nine prepared their instruments and chatted with two journalists from a The Toronto Daily Star newspaper, who were given permission to fly along on the mission.
At about 8:30 a.m., the crew reported their first set of observations by radio back to the National Hurricane Center and Commander G.B. Windham prepared to fly his aircraft into the eyewall at an altitude of about 700 feet.
No other communication was ever received from the flight. No trace of the aircraft or the eleven people aboard was ever found.
Now we know that the storm had deepened explosively, increasing from a Category 1 to a Category 4 hurricane in less than twenty four hours.
Perhaps the plane’s altimeter gave the pilots an incorrect reading because of the extremely low pressure and they flew the plane into the ocean.
Reconnaissance planes now use a radar altimeter to prevent such problems from occurring.
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