Halloween is just around the corner, and I know you Dieselpunks are just dying for a good old fashion tale of mystery and the supernatural. This tale is one of the more well known stories from the World War 2 era, one that is still trying to be debunked. It involves a small voyage in a navy blimp, the L-8, during it's last journey. It was a simple mission, but it ended with an extraordinary conclusion.
The L-8 was, like all US navy blimps, used to detect enemy submarines from above, as well as carry bombs to drop on any that were unfortunate enough to be found. The airfield on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay was the main place to keep airships, and the L-8 moved there after the disaster of the Hindenburg in Lakehurst– the east-side's main airship field. At 6:00am, the L-8 and its two crew members–Lieutenant Ernest Dewitt Cody and Ensign Charles Ellis Adams–set off for a routine patrol of the pacific coastline, despite being warned by their mechanic that the ship was too heavy, ignoring the warning and seeing the ship had no problem taking off.
At 7:50am, five miles east of the Farralone Island, the two man crew radioed in, reporting an oil slick. "Standby..." was the last sign of life from the airship. For an hour, the L-8 circled around the spot, witnessed by two ships in the area. Around 9:00am, the airship simply turned away from the reported oil slick and returned to San Francisco. Nobody was able to regain contact with the L-8, communication coming in but not coming out. Aircraft were even sent out to search for the L-8, fear that it had crashed into the ocean depths.
At 10:20am, the L-8 was spotted by a Pan Am flight. The spotters reported that the L-8 was heading towards the Golden Gate Bridge and was under control. Ten minutes later, ground witnesses saw the L-8 aim its nose up into the sky and rise above the clouds. That was the last sighting of the airship while it was in the air. At 10:50am, only 5 hours after its initial take-off, the L-8 was found by the beach.
The blimp was investigated thoroughly, everything inside the gondola intact and untouched. No parachutes were missing. The radio was working perfectly fine. Even the life-raft was still tucked in its compartment. The only thing missing... was the crew itself.
Speculations have got all over the place, from alien abductions, to "the crew never existed in the first place". Questions continue to appear, and have yet to be answered. I guess it just goes to show: there are some things we will never know.