Wings of Mystery

by Dale M. Titler

Tower Books, N.Y., 1972, 222 pages

I found the paperback Wings of Mystery in a used bookstore in Columbus, Ohio. Years ago I had read another book by Dale Titler The Day the Red Baron Died so I knew the author had a reputation as an aviation historian interested in unsolved mysteries. Wings of Mystery is about several different mysteries of aviation. An early chapter is on famous World War I aces and how they finally died. Mechanical problems, ground fire or shot down by another plane? There is still controversy over how several of the aces died. Another chapter is on various air races that were popular in the 1920's of which Charles Lindbergh was the most famous victor. But did you know many of Lindbergh's predecessors in the Atlantic crossing flight disappeared? Some of them were already famous aviators such as Charles Nungesser, a leading French World War I ace. The book has chapters on Amellia Earhart's disappearance and the tragic ending of the German Zeppelin, the "Hindenburg." It's interesting to note, even though the book is three decades of people are still trying to solve some of these mysteries, most notably recent expeditions to try to find Earhart's remains.
One of the earliest aviation mysteries that has been solved since the writing of this book has been what happened to the Andree expedition? It was a three man Scandinavian balloon attempt in 1897 to go to the North Pole. It foiled. Decades later the three dead crewmembers were found, but until recently no one knows what they died of. Recently it has been determined that the explorers died of food poisoning from eating tainted polar bear meat. An interesting sidelight to UFO buffs is that in 1897 when sky watchers were searching for the lost Andree balloon they saw mystery airships that couldn't possibly have been the lost balloon. This was a period of great mystery airship sightings as pre-1947 UFOs were called.
There is also a chapter on Flight 19, the five U.S. planes that went down in the Bermuda Triangle in 1945. Of course, many other planes have also gone down there. Is there a bizarre atmospheric condition in the area that can destroy planes? Speculation continues but there are no answers.
The last chapter is on UFOs and contains much that is familiar to well read UFO buffs. It's interesting to note there is no mention of the Roswell UFO crash. The book was written before that case got resurrected by the media. Though outdated in some ways Wings of Mystery is still a good read and the stories told in it are still unsolved for the most part.