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|Pilot 1st Lt. Eugene Zielinski, O-662717 (survived)
Crashed April 16, 1944 "Black Sunday" at 3:00pm
The formation escorted a single B-25 Mitchell from the 38th Bombardment Group searching for B-25G 42-64835 that force landed four days earlier. The five aircraft reached the Sepik River delta about an hour and a half later. While the B-25 crew searched the river and swamps for nearly two hours without results with the four Lightnings weaving closely behind, until their fuel became low by 1:30pm. Weather was overcast from 3,000' to 6,000'.
Returning, the formation flew a course approximately 50 miles inland from the coast and encountered heavy overcast 15 miles south of Annenberg with overcast down to 1,000' and rain. The formation proceeded towards Madang in hopes of landing at Saidor Airfield.
The formation encountered severe weather with overcast down to 1,000' and visibility of 300' and attempted to turn out towards the sea to find an opening in the clouds. Circling off Yalu Point off Yamai Airfield for 20 minutes before finding a hole in the clouds. With poor visibility, the formation broke up with Zielinski and Mikucky turning to the left while Reeves and Keown turned to the right at 2:40pm.
Low on fuel, Zielinski feathered his right engine and radioed his wingman Mikucky, telling him that he was bailing out and instructed him to do the same. Zielinski bailed out from approximately 800' and landed unhurt into the sea off Yalu Point at 3:00pm.
Eugene Zielinski reported:
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