At 1 p.m. Tawney or his copilot Zoltan Szaloki were overheard by a Navy Transport plane about an hour behind them. They were trying to raise Harmon Control, then other stations along the east coast. Between 1:10 and 1:20 p.m. Tawney was able to contact the Navy Transport and informed them of his position, asking them to relay it back.
However, the transport was also having difficulties. So with little else to do, Tawney finally just signed off and continued to the Azores. They were just about north of Bermuda at this point, near where Pogo 22 had vanished just months before, and Star Tiger had 14 years earlier.
By 7 p.m. Lajes was anxious for their arrival. When an immediate radio search failed to reach them, a huge search was ordered and began at 8:15 p.m.
According to COMEASTAREA and COMUSFORAZ, the Air Force’s various command areas, one hundred and sixty-two sorties were flown in a combined 1,369flight hours by the US Air Force alone, with an addition 7 sorties and 49 search hours by the US Navy, and 23 sorties in 236 hours by the US Coast Guard. In addition, there were 5 Coast Guard cutters which search the entire flight track of the KB-50 from Langley to the Azores, a 412 hour search covering 440, 820 square miles of the Atlantic, to date the largest search for any lost plane or ship. The results of this massive search were summed up in the Narrative of the accident report. Somewhat blandly put, it reads: “No trace of any survivors or wreckage was ever found, thus preventing the accident Board from obtaining any physical evidence upon which to base their investigation.” Case was closed.
What did happen to the great plane? The Virginia Pilot was told that the last transmission from Tawney came when he was about 240 miles off the coast. The Coast Guard then reported that they found an oil slick about 300 miles off the coast. Thus it seemed to everybody that the plane crashed into the sea for no reason shortly after Tawney’s last transmission. However, the Coast Guard had no way of knowing that Tawney had been in touch with the Navy Transport plane flying the same route. His last known message had placed him far past the spot of the oil slick, north of Bermuda where so many others had inexplicably vanished. The conclusion of the report is really all that can be said. Yet when it is added to what has been said about all the others lost here, it becomes an undeniable pattern of mystery, all in and about the border of the Sargasso Sea north of Bermuda that, at the very least, justifies belief in the enigma of the Bermuda Triangle.