Mystery B-17 lands at Wheeler Dec 5, 2013 12:12:41 GMT -5
Post by Nathan Milarta on Dec 5, 2013 12:12:41 GMT -5
The maintenance records for Hickam Field on that day show three aircraft from the 88th in commission at Hickam Field. Still, several eyewitnesses, including Brigadier General Howard C. Davidson, Commanding General 14th Pursuit Wing, and Second Lieutenant Henry Wells Lawrence, claimed a B-17E landed at Wheeler Field. They described how the aircraft came in cross-wind over the highway and landed along the width of the grass field at Wheeler, stopping just short of the hangars. General Davidson stated that when he asked the pilot why he landed at Wheeler Field, the pilot replied that by then all he was looking for was a flat piece of land to set the aircraft down. Lieutenant Lawrence described the aircraft perfectly and added that when he came down from his mission later that morning, he did not remember seeing it again. In fact no one remembers seeing the aircraft after it landed. At the same time this B-17 was landing, a Douglas B-18 Bolo that had flown from the island of Molakai landed at Wheeler. It is possible that the personnel at Wheeler mistook the B-18 for the B-17. Even Captain Brooke E. Allen, a B-17 pilot at Hickam Field, admitted that when he first saw the B-17s arriving, he thought they were Japanese. The Hawaiian Air Force had kept the flight from California a secret, and the B-17E model was new to the islands so most people had never seen one before. If a B-17 pilot could become confused during the attack and misidentify an aircraft, so could fighter pilots under attack. A second more plausible explanation is that the B -17 did land at Wheeler Field but sometime during the morning took off and flew to Hickam Field. This would explain the eyewitness accounts of its landing, why no one remembers seeing it after the attack, and why the maintenance records written at 1300 hours recorded three B-17Es at Hickam Field.