Drunk and lovesick mechanic stole plane to fly home – now wreck has been found

Divers claim they have found a crashed military transport plane stolen by a homesick US Air Force mechanic.

Sergeant Paul Meyer, based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, hatched a drunken scheme to fly the huge aircraft back to Langley, Virginia, because he missed his wife so much.

Posing as an officer, he got on the ­four-engined Hercules C-130E after a boozing session on May 23, 1969.

The chief mechanic, a qualified pilot, had it refuelled and took off, almost scraping a wing on the runway. Radar contact was lost over the English Channel and witnesses saw the plane crash in the sea.

Earlier Meyer had radioed his wife Jane and said: “Leave me alone for five minutes. I’ve got trouble.” They were his last known words.


A haunting transcript of their talk was read on Radio 4 last year. It is not known if Meyer, 23, lost control or if he was shot down to prevent him crashing on a populated area.

Wreckage, including a life raft, washed up days later at Alderney in the Channel Islands. That July a corpse, apparently in a flight suit, was left to drift away off Jersey.

Divers from Deeper Dorset think they have found the wreck after month of searching, but will not give the location. One said: “We will treat the remains as a crime scene – the first job being to map out an image.

“It is obvious many facts regarding that day have been withheld.”

Founder Grahame Knott said they were not yet releasing any images.

He added: “The images are bargaining power to negotiate a deal with a filmmaker, which we need to help fund the next stage.”

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