For starters, the aircraft actually isn’t missing in the Yukon. It likely crashed on Gold Mountain, just north of the BC-Montana border.
Since the C-54, the military version of the Douglas DC-4, was still unreported after its fuel supply was exhausted an extensive organized aerial search was instituted, combining the joint efforts of the United States and Royal Canadian Air Forces. The search, which encompassed approximately 871,000 square miles and which proved fruitless, was suspended 20 February, 1950.
Did the aircraft fly into a glacier and had been covered in snow and ice? Or is the wreckage lying on the bottom of one of the many then frozen lakes en route? Having crashed there and initially been covered by snow, later that spring when the ice melted, the aircraft could simply have sunk to the bottom, never to be found again.
Being on a south-facing slope with no roads between the mountain and the US border, the wreckage remained hidden from view till the fall of 1959 when spotted by two American hunters. Now the rest of the wreckage was buried and nobody was told about it.
Coincidentally, a few months later on June 23, 1950, another Douglas DC-4 crashed. This civilian aircraft registered N95425 belonging to Northwest Orient Airlines disappeared on a flight between New York-Idlewild and Minneapolis. Though the bodies of those were recovered from the lake the DC-4 had ended up in, these were buried in two secret unmarked mass graves, which were only discovered in 2008 and 2015, respectively.
Hopes of “officially” finding the missing C-54 is still being kept alive by a Facebook Group “Operation Mike, started in2012. Later that same year, the descendants of the missing 44 people aboard started an unsuccessful petition to the US Federal government through the ”We the People” petition system, seeking to reopen the search for the missing aircraft.
Despite this to be considered one of the largest groups of military personnel to ever go missing, the US Air Force, never showed much interest in solving this tragic loss. One of the next of kin, who wrote to President Obama was not impressed by his response:
Every day our service men and women strive to uphold their pledge to leave no man or woman behind, working around the world to identify and recover our missing heroes….. As work to secure a safer, freer world, we remember the service, sacrifice, and courage of those who have not returned from the battlefield. We will never cease in our mission to try to bring them home.
(Dirk Septer is an aviation historian and photographer who focuses on the West Coast and Canadian Arctic. He is the author of Lost Nuke – The Last Flight of Bomber 075, as well as the lead investigator in the television documentary Lost Nuke, which first aired on the Discovery Channel in 2004.)
This content was originally published here.