Maine aviation history expert Peter Noddin spent a few days last summer exploring a Down East area for evidence of the wreckage of one of the most famous plane crashes in history while filming an episode of a Discovery Channel program.
“Expedition: Unknown”, an adventure program hosted by Josh Gates, focused on an episode on L’Oiseau Blanc, the White Bird, a plane piloted by two French pilots hoping to be the first to cross the Atlantic in 1927, weeks. in front of Charles Lindbergh.
The plane disappeared – supposedly somewhere between Newfoundland and Maine – and has since become one of the great aviation mysteries of all time, along with the crash of Amelia Earhart and the fate of Flight 370 of Malaysian Airlines. Countless theories have emerged over the years about where the plane may have crashed in 1927.
Noddin has been searching the forests of Maine for more than three decades trying to find clues to the White Bird. Along with other members of the Maine aviation history community, he searched various areas in the Down East where it is believed the plane may have crashed.
“I’ve received literally hundreds of potential clients from all over the state, most of whom are a little crazy,” Noddin said. “But we focus on the real data we have, which was gathered from people who really heard or saw what the plane might very well have been.”
The first part of the episode tells the story of White Bird pilots Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli, French pilots who in the 1920s hoped to win the Orteig Prize, which would be awarded to the first people to fly from Paris to New York. . The couple took off from Paris on May 8, 1927, loaded with so much fuel that they had to throw almost everything on the plane – including the radio.
At some point the plane disappeared. For decades, it was thought to have crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, but researchers like Noddin believe it may have crashed in the forest in either Newfoundland or Maine.
In the episode, Noddin sets out his hypothesis as to why he believes the White Bird crashed in Maine. The greatest proof of this is the fact that several people in the counties of Washington and Hancock saw a plane flying over it in a southeasterly direction. In the 1920s, planes flying over rural Maine were an incredibly rare occurrence, which means that it is quite possible that the plane they saw was the White Bird.
There is also the fact that in the 1950s, 30 years after the plane disappeared, a group of hunters near Lake Tunk in Sullivan reportedly found plane wreckage as well as a human shin. although according to Noddin they did not get any information from the site. It is not known, however, exactly where these hunters were – only that they were on a hill and that there was a geodetic survey near them.
In “Expedition: Unknown,” Noddin and other Hermon wreck hunter James Chichetto teamed up with host Gates to search Lake Tunk, find the search marker, and then scan the area with metal detectors. They actually encounter a very rusty piece of white paint metal and then discover a skeleton piece from an old plane – although they quickly discover that the wreckage was actually from a Canadian mail plane that crashed around 1930.
Although they did not provide information about White Bird, Noddin said finding any evidence of any kind of plane crash is still an emotion for him.
“It may not be an incredible find like White Bird, but it’s still a piece of history,” said Noddin, who has found plane wreckage in areas across Maine and is currently working to find a plane. Cessna float with Maine pilot. A driver named Fred Corrow, who disappeared near Lake Moosehead in 1969.
From there, the episode moves on to another search for New Earth, where Gates connects with another aviation historian to try to find the wreckage of the White Bird in a secluded pond off the island’s west coast – though again they do not succeed.
The episode aired for the first time on June 15 and will air again at 3 p.m. on Saturday and at 6 p.m. on June 29, or you can watch it at any time on the Discovery + streaming platform.
Noddin said he hopes shows like “Expedition: Unknown” will help the next generation of treasure hunters, plane and ship wreck researchers and other adventurers in the world of solving historical mysteries.
“There are still so many mysteries to be solved and I think shows like this help people get excited about what might be out there,” Noddin said. “It really shows how beautiful and interesting all this is and how much is still unknown out there.”