It’s hard to overstate just how big a deal Glenn Miller was in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He was the number-one selling recording artist. His big band was arguably the most popular in the U.S. From 1939 to 1943 he had 17 number one hits and 59 top ten hits. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s more than either Elvis or the Beatles had in their entire careers.
In 1942, Glenn Miller gave up his civilian life, where he was making five figures a week (and that was in 1942!), to join the military during World War Two and do his part. The Navy turned him down (I bet they came to regret that) and so he joined the Army instead. At first the Army had Miller playing in various small ensembles at Maxwell Field in Alabama, but later on they allowed him to create his own 50 piece ensemble and take it on tour in England, where they gave hundreds of performances throughout 1944.
In December 1944, Miller made plans to bring his orchestra across the Channel to play in liberated Paris. Miller planned to go first himself to make the arrangements, and so on December 15th he climbed aboard a USAAF UC-64A Norseman aircraft as a passenger and headed out.
He never arrived. The aircraft disappeared, believed to have gone down somewhere over the English Channel.
Many years later, a retired English fisherman claimed that his trawler dredged up the remains of an unusual aircraft. The debris consisted of a framework of steel tubes, covered with fabric, and wooden wings. Since these characteristics are rare, there is a high probability that the aircraft in question is in fact the one that carried Miller.
TIGHAR, the same group I wrote about that has been tracking down Amelia Earhart’s aircraft, will now also be trying to find Miller’s plane, now that they have a good idea where it probably is.
I wish them the best of luck, and hope they find it.