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Justin Taylan 2006
|Pilot Lt. Charles
Force landed May 1, 1942
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 8th Fighter Group (8th FG) "Cyclone's Flying Circus", 80th Fighter Squadron "The Headhunters". Assigned to pilot Lt. Charles Faletta. Nicknamed "Erminie".
On May 1, 1942 one of six P-39s that took off from Antill Plains Airfield near Townsville on a flight bound for Port Moresby. Faletta was leading the formation with his wingman P-39F 41-7215 piloted by Lt. Harvey. The formation included also included P-39F 41-7216 piloted by Lt. Yundt and P-39F piloted by Lt. Love.
Flying northward, the formation made a refueling stop at Cooktown Airfield, then encountered a storm near Horn Island, where they planned to land at Horn Island Airfield to and refuel before the final leg of the journey to Port Moresby.
While flying in bad weather and thick clouds, Lt. Falletta led the other pilots who were all inexperienced with instrument flying back to the Cape York Peninsula. Low on fuel, they searched for a suitable place to land. Lt. Faletta and wingman, Lt. Harvey chose a landing spot roughly 13-16 kilometers inland from Cape Orford Ness, near the Escape River near Weipa.
Faletta managed to make a wheels down landing, unhurt. Nearby landing wheels up was P-39F 41-7215 piloted by Lt. Harvey. Landing on a nearby beach was P-39F 41-7216 piloted by Yundt and P-39 pilot Lt. Love.
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