The Search for the Pilot


What happened to Smith is subject to some speculation. Some believe that he managed to walk out and start another life. Rumors have him surfacing in Miami, while others place him in the Air Corp. Perhaps working as an operative inside Germany, before the United States formally entered the War.

Rumors aside, if one looks where his plane went down. One would logically assume he traveled south towards Burgeo only 30 kilometers away. This settlement would most likely be marked on his maps. Th
ere is some evidence that would support this view. Local people say an empty box of Smith and Wesson cartridges was found beside the plane. Also, spent cartridges were located about a half mile to the south and more a further 10 kilometers away. The later shells were discovered on the north side of a river called Dry Pond Brook. A friend gave Tommy a small caliber revolver the day before the flight, in the event he went down in a wilderness area. The speculation from an experienced guide is that Smith drowned while trying to cross Dry Pond Brook.

The discovery of the note brings a wealth of information into the equation. In it, w
e find that he had a good idea where he went down. He stated he was "going to walk south, then west if he hits Ocean" This would be his best option. He then however, changes his mind, and sets off in a north-northwest direction in search of a house. We discovered a fuzzy image on a 1950 aerial photograph. It was located to the north-northwest of the crash site on Top Pond Brook. We thought it might be a cabin. We created a series of transitional images between it, and a 1967 aerial photograph. The 1967 photograph shows no such cabin-like image. On this expedition we traveled to the location. We found nothing, not even a trace of a cabin. We assume the feature was a flaw on the negative.

On our expedition in 2000, we traveled to an area about 10 kilometers south of the plane. A local person directed us there. He said there was a large rock arrow on top of a hill. The arrow was covered in lichen and was though to be very old. We thought it significant since it was located between the community of Burgeo and the crash site. After visiting the location of arrow, we found it looked more like a Christian cross than an arrow. There was no doubt it was old, perhaps of the same time period as the crash. Later, we talked to a knowledgeable guide and he indicated it was a cross was made a long time and had nothing to do with Tommy's crash. So with this, mystery of the rock arrow is now solved.

Upon reflection, we developed a number of logical deductions from his note. We feel the note can be broken up into three basic parts:

  1. "Iced down at 10:40 EST"
  2. "going to walk South then West if he hits Ocean"
  3. "I am walking North-Northwest to try to find a house".

We think the first and second parts were written quite close together, perhaps within an hour. The time between the second and third part is much longer. You can see the ink is actually lighter in the third part. This could be because of damp paper, or cold ink. There is also a change in the objectives between part two and three. Part two explains an ambitious drive to the coast. While part three is a short-term goal of survival. He is now worried about where he is going to sleep. He walked south perhaps for hours, but for some reason returned to the plane. He then changes his note, saying he was going to look for a house. If he cannot find one he would try to return to the plane. It seems he never did return.The plane crashed at 10:40 AM EST. The sun at that location would set at 6:33 PM EST. That gives him about 8 hours 13 minutes to walk south, return, re-write the note then look for a house. If his walk south was hours in duration, then it might explain why he was now concerned where he was going to sleep. The north north-west route would lead him down to Top Pond Brook, about 2 miles away. I do not think he would attempt to cross the river unless he saw a cabin on the other side. The best information we have, is that there were no cabins in that area. He may have reached the river, but ran out of daylight and could not get back to the ship. He would have little choice but to travel south along the east side of Top Pond Brook.


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