Nungesser & Coli crossed the Atlantic, here is the proof!

Published on by P. Lamy for Bernard Decre

After two research campaigns, Bernard Decre went to Washington DC in November, to search the Coast Guards archives. Local archivists were very helpful, as they begin to be very interested in this quest. They also want to know what happened to l'Oiseau Blanc and the two pilots, Charles Nungesser & Francois Coli.  
  • After having analysed 80 archives boxes, we have discovered texts confirming the presence of pieces of white aeroplane wings, floating from Saint Pierre & Miquelon, the French territory, to Portland! TelegrammeCoastGuards
  • The most interesting piece is a telegramme, written by a Coast Guards ship captain on August 18th, 1927, to inform his superiors that two white wings, attached one on top of the other, were floating near his ship, and seem to be the wings of Nungesser & Coli's aircraft. The analysis of sea current (Labrador) at those dates (from May to August 1927) match.
  • We also have found the track of three small Coast Guards ships, numbered CG 231, CG 290 and CG 234, the latest having taken one wing on board!
  • Unfortunately, it was impossible to find her log book. Several times, in telegrammes and log books, we have read the term "voice order", which means that there is no written confirmation.
  • So it seems that all pieces and findings about the aircraft have been classified.
  •  L'analyse des courants (courant du Labrador) et des dates (de mai à aout 1927) coïncident !


Moreover, in these archives, we have discovered that an atmosphere of competition was reigning amongst several crews: 


Four crews are ready to take off from New York between April and May 1927: 

  • Richard Byrd's Fokker Tri-engine, "America".
  • Davis et Wooster's Keyston K47 Tri-engine "American Legion
  • C. Chamberlain's "Columbia", supported by the congressman Hamilton Fish Jr
  • ... And Charles Lindbergh's "Spirit of St Louis" the smallest of all, with only one pilot! 

Bad weather prevents all take offs, only Charles Lindbergh will take the risk to go, on May 20th.

French crews:

  • Fonck has already tried, and chashed after take off killing two of his crewmen. 
  • Nungesser & Coli seem to be the only ones able to beat the American crews.

 Between 1926 and 1928, the Atlantic crossing challenge will kill 21 men, and wound 6, in 12 trials. Only 6 crews will succeed.

At that time, air shows attracted crowds, and pilots were heroes!


There were also media intoxication: after the "Oiseau Blanc disappeared, the French papers accused the American meteorologists to have given wrong information to the French pilots. The atmosphere was tense between our countries, as there was alcohol prohibition in the US, with a big traffic in the French islands of Saint Pierre et Miquelon.

Two men have payed a very important part after Lindbergh's victory, to calm down the tension: Milton T. Herrick, US ambassador in Paris, and Aristide Briand, Prime Minister in France. The French were good sports in the end and allaimed Lindbergh in the most extraordinary fashion: a few weeks after, both nations signed the "Franco-American frindship pact". And it seemd better to get over the disappearing of Nungesser & Coli, probably "lost in the Channel".

All things considered, we are only answering the first question Lindbergh asked when he landed at Le Bourget airport on May 21st: "do we have news from Nungesser & Coli" ?... Yes we do: they did cross the Atlantic, but ditched and died near Saint Pierre & Miquelon"!


NewFoundLand archivists have also given us authentic letters from people who have seen the white aircraft on Munday, May 9th 1927.


In short: we now have sufficient material to rehabilitate our aviators, confirm that they have crossed the Atlantic 11 days before Lindbergh, and established a distance record. We are going to propose these elements to an international commission, with the help of our American colleagues.

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