Today in History -May 23, 1969 – Super Sabres sent to help save stolen C-130E

23 May 1969 -USAF Sgt. Paul Adams Meyer, 23, of Poquoson, Virginia, was having marital problems, causing him much anxiety. He was homesick and couldn’t get leave to see his family.

Early in the day on 23 May 1969 he had been arrested for being drunk and disorderly and had been confined to quarters. Instead of obeying the order, he snuck out and impersonated an officer using the name “Capt Epstein”. Capt Epstein (Meyer) then called an aircraft dispatcher and demanded that aircraft 37789, a Hercules transporter C-130, be fuelled for a flight to the USA. The groundcrew obeyed the order and Meyer then stole the 75-ton airplane, which was assigned to the 36th TAS/16th TAF.  He was not qualified to fly the aircraft.

Paul was airborne at 0655 hrs CET, heading for Langley AFB, Virginia, to see his wife.

At least two North American F-100 Super Sabres from RAF Lakenheath, a C-130 from Mildenhall, and two RAF English Electric Lightnings were sent to try to make contact with the stolen aircraft.

Paul was talking to his wife the whole time and less than 90 minutes after taking flight he was heard to say “Leave me alone for about five minutes, I’ve got trouble.” That was the last transmission before Meyer crashed into the English Channel off Alderney.

There is speculation whether the Hercules was shot down. Some wreckage was recovered but the pilot’s body was never found.

In 2019, after raising $8000 on a GoFundMe page, Deeper Dorset divers believe they have found the wreckage. Below is a video from the Go Fund Me campaign, with Paul Meyer’s stepson, Henry.

Sources: Wikipedia, Stars and Stripes,

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