Nungesser and Coli … l’Oiseau Blanc search fails …

Last year I wrote here about the scheduled June 2012 search for the wreckage of the Levasseur PL.8 biplane – the Oiseau Blanc or White Bird – in which the two French aviators Nungesser and Coli might have flown non-stop across the Atlantic in 1927 thus having done so before Charles Lindbergh. But of course […]

The missing l’Oiseau Blanc – The White Bird

Last year I wrote here about the scheduled June 2012 search for the wreckage of the Levasseur PL.8 biplane – the Oiseau Blanc or White Bird – in which the two French aviators Nungesser and Coli might have flown non-stop across the Atlantic in 1927 thus having done so before Charles Lindbergh. But of course Lindbergh did it solo.

 

The plane however disappeared, and it was therefore Lindbergh who, when he landed his Spirit of Saint Louis on May 21 of that year of 1927 at Paris’s Le Bourget Airport, had become the hero: The first man who flew across the Atlantic without halting.

 

Charles Lindbergh

I do not want to repeat what I wrote about Nungesser and Coli – Charles Eugène Jules Marie Nungesser and Francois Coli – so do read what I wrote previously.

 
What I will say is that their plane was last seen off the coast of France at Etretat in Upper Normandy, but according to reports in the archives of the Canadian Air Force and Canadian Coastguards, sailors on ships had seen two white wings of a small aircraft drifting in the Atlantic off the coast of the French self-governing overseas territory of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. (Off the coast of Newfoundland.)

 
As these reports were sufficiently convincing several searches have been launched over the years to find the wreckage of the plane and hopefully the remains of the two aviators.

Coli

The searches were unsuccessful.

 
Alas, so was the June 2012 search.

 
However, a new search has now been scheduled for May and June 2013.

 
“Thanks to new more effective equipment we have now, in 2013 we will be able to fine-comb a half-circle area off the Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon coast of about 2 kilometres,” the 73-year-old Bernard Decré, head of the ‘Association for the Search of the White Bird’ told journalists.

 
The failed June 2012 search had a fervent supporter: Erik Lindberg, grandson of Charles Lindbergh.

 
Nungesser was 35 when he set off from Le Bourget Airport. Coli was 46.

 

Nungesser

Should the May/June 2012 search be successful and not only the L’Oiseau Blanc’s wreckage but also the remains of the two aviators will be found, then finally Coli’s empty grave in Paris’s Montparnasse Cemetery will be filled.

Coli’s empty grave in Paris’s Montparnasse Cemetery

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

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