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Pittsburgh B-25 Monongahela River Mystery

Smoking Gun?
Smoking Gun?
B-25 Obituary
B-25 Roll Call
USAF Search
History of Flight
Six Rescued?

(Research notes: This is the press release that was issued on the fifty-sixth anniversary of the disappearance of TB-25N 44-29125)

Four Officers shown leaving Montefiore Hospital
Photo used with the kind permission of Closson Press



Contact information:

Robert A. Goerman



Smoking Gun to Pittsburgh’s B-25 Ghost Bomber Found?


Dateline: New Kensington, Pennsylvania          January 31, 2012


This unpublished photograph, buried for decades in the archives of the defunct Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, might be the "smoking gun" to the strange mystery of that B-25 Ghost Bomber.

Fifty-six years ago today, the World War II vintage TB-25N twin-engine bomber, serial number 44-29125, swooped from the Pennsylvania skies, narrowly missing the afternoon rush hour traffic on the Homestead High Level Bridge, and made an emergency landing on the Monongahela River and sank. Curious divers have since scoured every inch of river bottom. All they ever got was wet. Everything from crude grappling hooks to modern detection devices have been employed over the years. It was as if it never existed.

The mystery deepened when a whistle-blower confessed in 1976 that he was one of three truckers handsomely paid by the Central Intelligence Agency to secretly haul the clandestinely recovered aircraft over to the secure Nike Missile base in Oakdale, Pennsylvania during the dead of night.

The search for the truth about the fate of 44-29125 has become as much a part of Pittsburgh history and lore as the mysterious disappearance of the aircraft itself. There are troubling inconsistencies about the details and destination of the flight, as well as the actual number and identities of the personnel aboard. These conflicts appear in official military and government records, in newspaper reportage, in statements made by the survivors, and in accounts given by both rescuers and eyewitnesses.

Robert A. Goerman was the catalyst for the investigative efforts that followed on the heels of the trucker’s admission on the Perry Marshall KDKA radio program. Robert H. Johns served as Aviation Consultant.

"On one hand, we have Air Force promises that there was no secrecy here," Goerman says, then he points out things like the testimony and obituary of towboat Captain Carol E. Long. "Honest individuals have placed federal and military authorities in places not confirmed by official records."

This Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph newspaper photograph (identified as Plate Number G-8) was taken on January 31, 1956. The tag on the back of this print carries a very interesting comment by the photographer who is acknowledged only as Brunek: "Brass from Air Force leaving Montefiore Hospital after talking to survivors of plane crash. These men made the hospital policy of ‘to hell with newspapers’ a lot stronger."

That visit to Montefiore Hospital by four officers is never mentioned in the official United States Air Force documentation which reads:

"31 January 1956 -- Received word of a downed B-25 bomber from Base Operations approximately 1630 hours. Joined Major Pasacreta at Base Operations 1700 hours and drove to scene of aircraft accident in AF staff car. Arrived at AMOCO bulk storage plant south side Monongahela River near the Hays Street Bridge approximately 1830 hours, then proceeded to St. Joseph Hospital and interviewed M/Sgt Alleman. Returned to base."

One unnamed military source examined this news photo and pointed to the man to the right in the picture and noted that "This man is not an officer." Our Colonel in the Army Reserve elaborated. The man in the picture was much too old for the rank he was wearing, Captain. His haircut was definitely non-military. There was no evidence in the hairstyle of the wearing of a hat. His coat was open. This was ‘just not done’ in the service. If you are an officer and you have a coat on, it will be buttoned.

After he had gone over the photo, identifying the ranks of the men and supplying comments when appropriate, this Colonel took out his handkerchief and began to slowly and carefully wipe every inch of the glossy surface of the print. "I know who you are going to be dealing with and I don’t want to be any part of it," he said and then handed the picture back, holding it carefully by the very tip of one of its corners."

The investigation continues at

Suggested reading

Goerman, Robert A., Thirty Seconds over Pittsburgh, FATE magazine, May-June 2009

Johns, Robert H., The Incident That Could Have Killed Pittsburgh, Closson Press, September 2008