Wreckage of missing plane found almost 56 years after mystery disappearance

The 'Blue Goose' was carrying US servicemen to Taiwan

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The Independent Online

Wreckage from a plane carrying US servicemen that disappeared between China and Taiwan during the Cold War with 11 people on board has been found more than 50 years after it vanished.

A propeller believed to belong to the amphibious PBY-5A plane has been found by fishermen in the Taiwan Strait near where it lost contact in October 1958, the China Times reported.

The discovery confirms the fate of the aircraft’s passengers but the mystery of what happened to the plane, known as the “Blue Swan” or “Blue Goose”, is no closer to being solved.

Its disappearance at the height of the second Taiwan Strait Crisis sparked accusations from Taiwan that it had been shot down or hijacked by the Chinese army.

Others said it had been forced to land in mainland China and some news reports claimed the US servicemen were being held by the Communist government but no evidence was found to support any of the theories.

The commercial aircraft had been chartered by the military to carry four US servicemen and three commanders from the Taiwanese army from the Matsu Islands to Taipei.

Routine contact was made with the Matsu Islands after departure and the plane continued at altitude of 1,000ft to avoid Chinese radar.

Chairman Mao was in the midst of the "Great Leap Forward" during the crisis.

All contact was lost 37 nautical miles from Matsu in the Strait’s 15-mile-wide “no radar zone” and no wreckage was found in intensive searches by the US Air Force, Navy and Taiwanese authorities.

According the Cold War Museum in Virginia, experts believe the structure of the seaplane means most debris would have floated on the surface of the ocean.

Contemporary reports speculated that it was brought down by a storm but military investigations did not conclude that weather was a major factor.

As well as the servicemen, four Taiwanese civilian crew members were killed.

Major Robert C. Bloom, Captain Wayne F. Pitcher, Private First Class Claude L. Baird and Dwight H. Turner , a US Navy “radioman” were members of the elite Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) Matsu Defence Command.

The US was supporting Taiwan (the Republic of China) in a conflict with mainland China after it  bombed the islands of Quemoy and the nearby Matsu Islands with the suspected intent to invade.

It continued the Taiwan Strait Crisis that started in 1954, when a series of Taiwanese islands in the strip of ocean were seized by China and the US joined the conflict amid fears of Communist expansion.

The crisis calmed days after the Blue Goose’s disappearance after the US threatened to use nuclear weapons against China.

It was among almost 90 aircraft that have gone missing without a trace since 1948.

Aviation Safety Network records show that “at least” 88 corporate, cargo and military planes have disappeared around the world.

The search continues for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared on 8 March with 239 passengers and crew on board.

No confirmed wreckage has been found in almost three months of boats, planes and satellites scouring the Indian Ocean.

Australian authorities believe the plane crashed after running out of fuel but there has been no indication of why it diverted off course from Kuala Lumpar to Beijing with its communication systems apparently switched off.