50 years ago today Paul Meyer made the fatal decision to fly home. Why he did it, what happened to him and the aircraft has been at the top of my to do list for over a decade. You would be forgiven for thinking finding the aircraft as we have was the hard bit however searching for the truth and telling the story has proved much more challenging but slowly slowly we are getting there. We should have been back at sea by now but currently my life is on hold for personal reasons and that is the way it is but when we do return, lookout! We will be smashing it this story has become very personal and the truth will out warts and all.
Fair to say this isn’t the start to 2019 I was wishing for. Family has to come first at this time but I was hoping that by now we would have some help on side to share costs and tell the Paul Meyer story in this 50th anniversary year. It is now looking like we are going to have to find a way to do it ourselves which means that it gets done when it gets done, that said this story will certainly be told but from now on it will be Frank Sinatra style! My way.
Exploring small wrecks in deep channel waters is everyday for Deeper Dorset and we were honoured to assist David Mearns searching and recording the remains of the aircraft in which Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson lost their lives. We were lucky to find a weather and tidal window at this time of year and even luckier to have any visibility in seventy metres of water albeit only two metres. It won’t be long before diving efforts will once again be focusing on the story of Paul Meyer and why the Hercules ended up at the bottom of the English Channel.
Just as Paul Meyer made the decision to put his family above all else, I have also recently had to make the same decision hence news on the Hercules project has been a little slow. However, while I deal with the saddest of situations progress is still being made on several fronts following what we discovered on the seabed back in November. I am not a betting man but if I was, I think it is fair to say that I would put money on what I think happened on 23rd May nineteen sixty-nine but that is not good enough it has to be proved. My opinion is free and worth nothing in a court of law, substantiating the facts is expensive in both time and money but that is the route we must take. Enough progress has already been made to establish beyond doubt that the aircraft was located on the seabed shortly after it was lost which is something that the USAF has never admitted despite telling Paul’s family, they would update them on any further developments. Focus now is on why what remains of the aircraft is where it is and that has some chilling possibilities as does the sighting of a body near the wreck some weeks later and we believe this is the same body that was spotted on the 19th July between Guernsey and France. As previously mentioned, substantiating this beyond doubt is expensive but we have come too far to stop now. All this sounds dramatic enough however there is one more undisputable piece of evidence on the seabed that really does blow the mind when you think about it and for now, I am trying not to. As I am often heard to say, one step at a time.
Right from the off with the Paul Meyer story I was determined not to add to the wild rumour and speculation that just developed into conspiracy theories. I am only interested in facts. It was however obvious something wasn’t right that is why we got involved in the first place.
I get asked all the time what I think and I am always cautious, even Paul’s step son Henry pointed out the other day that he thought I was just being nice about an obvious cover up. With the evidence we now have from the seabed and one or two folks starting to break cover as I always knew they would we now have hard facts, so much so that I can now say yes indeed we have not been told the truth.
For now I am going to keep my powder dry and I do know more than I am letting on which is fine because the longer this is allowed to run then the more guilty some are going to look but that is up to them. Come on USAF get that file out and stop pissing us about I know what ya did and I will prove it. When you read the telegram sent to Paul’s wife and see the level of incompetence at the time it says quite a lot, hopefully things aren’t still the same. That wasn’t quite so cautious was it?
In some ways finding the aircraft was the easy bit (HaHa). We now have a real task ahead of us but as usual we will come at it straight and level whatever it takes. We will treat the aircraft remains as if it were a crime scene the first job being to map out and image not just the main site but the various pieces we can see on the sonar around the site.
Already it is obvious we will learn a lot from what is still there after fifty years however the work is going to be painstaking as we reverse engineer the sequence of events. We cannot do this alone we require folks with specialist knowledge and we are working on that very hard right now. Having located the aircraft we can already dispel a lot of stupid rumours and conspiracy theories which is certainly half the battle won.
It is though fairly obvious that many facts regarding that day have been withheld and it would be a really good idea if someone got the file out and started talking to us before we start to tell the story our way, trust me we have a David and Goliath situation here and we will stop at nothing to figure this sad story out.
We made this little video back in August which highlights the enormity of our task when we still had the weather on our side! The soundtrack is from “Flying home” written and performed especially for the project by our friends and huge Deeper Dorset supporters The Dolmen. We are still getting out there dodging the weather and battling with the now decaying in-water visibility however we will soon have to call it this year as winter descends. We are quite keen to follow up on the last of our sonar targets gathered this year so we have a fresh start and a new area to work on next year. We got very excited by one particular target that came to nothing last week but now another has caught our eye that we really want to check out before we are forced ashore. Back on terra firma it is frantic as we make a final push for this year and we go back over hours and hours of sidescan and video always with the fear we missed something. RWTwo is about to clock up 1400 miles on search duties and is starting to gasp a bit for some TLC which she will be getting soon. https://vimeo.com/287962995?fbclid=IwAR0KUoCam74Q7O2NTyOfH9BByg04akTHsnJxQPPTHC5M8sWZRyAiyF41JVQ
Exciting times ahead.. After three years of being messed about and shoved from pillar to post we now have a way forward with historic racing yacht Dolly Varden. Sadly it doesn’t involve my home town of Weymouth but it wasn’t for the lack of trying, just a shame there is such a lack of vision around here. More details soon but at last the boat is saved for the nation. Sub heading on the Deeper Dorset website says “Find the plane fix the boat” so I am now halfway there and can turn all my attention to finding that big bird. I mean how hard can it be????
The amount of rumour and conspiracy theories surrounding the disappearance of Paul Meyer beggars belief. I am doing my level best not to add to them but just chip away at each and every one a process that takes time and in most cases requires professional help. Slowly slowly we Are stripping back the stories and putting them in the possible or not possible trays and some we can now declare as at best fanciful.
Regards the last we can forget the story about the aircraft being intercepted on the German border, we can put to bed the story of an American mystery pilot who went up in a Lightning and shot him down as claimed in the book “The Lightning Boys”. We can also now view the conclusion at the end of the USAF report as either careless or requiring a rewrite of the laws of physics.
Right now I am spending time checking out all that was recovered after the crash and who recovered it, the bag pictured is something under scrutiny right now.
Grumpy bird awaits us at the entrance to the National Archives! For now I think we have checked out every line of enquiry at this fantastic facility with regard to Paul Meyer and the flight of the Hercules, we now have to look further afield. Same applies to the newspaper archives which we have trawled through again and again here in the UK and in the US. The more I delve into this story the more I realise we are missing key pieces firstly in the form of documentation which in the circumstances is not surprising but then there is Paul himself?
Bringing his story to life is key in understanding what happened almost fifty years ago, suffice to say I really do not buy the fact that he was just a drunk that made a really bad decision there is much more to it than that. At the military academy he was described as a Huckleberry Finn kind of character which seems a little odd in the light of how others saw him certainly during his time in Germany and the UK.
What I would really like to know is what was he like prior to being in the military and also during his time in Vietnam which no one as yet seems to want to talk about. That said there may be nothing to talk about but for sure if we are really going to bring this man home we have to leave no stone unturned. There is a lot more to all this than meets the eye and that is the reason I am on this seemingly endless road.
What have we here then? Centre stage the dunny from Dolly Varden soon to be off to Blakes for restoration, we know King GeorgeV spent time onboard Dolly I wonder if the value of the bog increases if we could prove he used the facilities?? Everything else is torpedo related and is soon off to a museum. The motors are part of a collection I rescued a few years back and now after much effort virtually every piece of that collection has been saved. I donated three complete (yes complete twenty odd foot long) torpedoes to the Castletown Regeneration Project, one to a dive centre and one to a technology college. There are three motors in restoration now due to their importance and the one remaining motor will be receiving the attention of Simon Brown. Project complete big bits of local history saved by Deeper Dorset. Yay.
When I started The Shipwreck Project a good few years ago now it was primarily based around diving and trying to get folks involved in maritime history, sadly it didn’t work out and hard expensive lessons were learned. Trying to do too many things at once is a failing of mine but that said in my defence if you don’t push on lots of doors you will not find out which ones open. Deeper Dorset is much more focused all about the local area and its maritime history above and below the water. At this time I am concentrating on two projects finding the Hercules and saving racing yacht Dolly Varden, typical me I choose two with a difficulty level off the scale! There is of course a bigger picture and shaping that is what keeps me going fighting like an alley cat. If I was to tell you what the bigger picture is I would be laughed out of town…… This either makes me visionary or mad!