The legend of the Ghost Blimp began in San Francisco on August 16, 1942. It was early on a Sunday morning when Flight 101 prepared to take off. The pilots were 27-year-old Lt. Ernest DeWitt Cody and 34-year-old Ensign Charles Ellis Adams. Both were experienced and reliable, which made the events of the next five hours even more mysterious. An Aviation machinist named Riley Hill was supposed to go with them on this call but moments before the flight was called back for an unknown reason.
About 1.5 hours after takeoff Lt. Cody radioed squadron headquarters and said; “Position four miles east of the Farallones. Standby.” Four minutes later, Cody called again and reported an oil slick on the water. According to Riley Hill, those were the last words ever received from Flight 101.
After 3 hours of no contact with the blimp and it’s crew, the flight commander got a report saying that the blimp had gone eight miles off course and had come ashore just south of San Francisco. The blimp had landed in the middle of a street, but no one was injured. It’s important to note that while there was no contact with the crew, the blimp remained in sight until it crashed.
When Navy personnel arrived, they were shocked to discover that there was no sign of Lt. Cody or Ensign Adams. The door was latched open, which was a highly unusual in-flight position. The safety bar, normally used to block the doorway, was no longer in place. And a microphone hooked to an outside loudspeaker dangled from the gondola. The blimp had went through the proper prepping and maintenance before departure so none of this made any sense.
Two of the three life jackets on board were missing, suggesting the crew had put them on before take off, as regulations required. A locked briefcase containing top-secret codes was still in its place. It was as if Cody and Adams had opened the door and simply stepped out into thin air.
Many theories have emerged since then, like they were fixing something and fell out or that they were captured, but none of that makes sense since they were in sight the entire time.