MIAMI, Fla. -- A Navy patrol bomber carrying perhaps 12 men crashed in flames in the Atlantic last night while searching for five torpedo bombers which disappeared mysteriously, it was revealed today.
The patrol craft, a "Mariner" from the Banana River Naval Air Station, crashed off Ponce de Leon Inlet, near Daytona Beach. The Coast Guard here said that flames flared 100 feet into the air and were seen by a merchant vessel.
The torpedo bombers flew from the Naval Air Station at Fort Lauderdale, Fla., yesterday afternoon and vanished without a trace. Today a widespread hunt over thousands of square miles of land and sea was set in motion. Each presumably carried two men.
The search for them perhaps was the largest ever organized from the continental United States. Scores of military planes and vessels, among them the escort aircraft carrier Solomons, were called on for aid in piercing the mystery and if possible rescuing the men.
The missing planes were last heard from late yesterday, while on a routine flight. Sundown are and they should have returned, but there was no sign. No radio messages came through to indicate what might have happened.
The weather in the search area generally was fair today. It was about the same when the planes vanished.