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Mysteries Of Flight: The Curious Case Of Pan Am Flight 914

The airliner took off from New York City in 1955 and landed in Venezuela in 1985, or was it 1992?

A Pan Am DC-4, similar to the one in this photo, was said to have disappeared for decades only to reappear under strange circumstances. Nothing about the story, however, adds up.
A Pan Am DC-4, similar to the one in this photo, was said to have disappeared for decades only to reappear under strange circumstances. Nothing about the story, however, adds up. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
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The Mystery

Pan Am Flight 914 was a Douglas DC-4 with 57 passengers and six crew members that took off from a New York City airport headed for Miami, Florida. The date was July 2, 1955. The flight was scheduled to last a couple of hours, but it never arrived in Miami. Instead, it showed up, unannounced and invisible to Caracas radar, on March 9, 1985! Voicing his concerns to the tower, the pilot, after a textbook landing, taxied toward the gate, and ground handlers could see the faces of the screaming passengers pressed up against their windows, looking at a fantastic new world. The pilot, for his part, dropped a small calendar out the window before he made a hasty turn back to the runway, where he took off and disappeared as suddenly as he had arrived. And the calendar? Did he drop it accidentally? Or does it hold the secret to what happened? What exactly did it say?

We might never know. The governments of both Venezuela and the United States, the story goes, were said to have seized the calendar and the tower tapes and have refused to comment on the incident even once in the intervening decades. What really happened to Flight 914?

It is, for once, a mystery that has an answer.

The Theories

The story has been going around the internet for years and is a hot forum topic with the UFO and time-traveling crowd.

The most popular theory is that the plane passed through some kind of time portal or wormhole, and instead of landing in Miami in 1955, it appeared on arrival in Venezuela 30 years later. One supposes it went back through the wormhole after it left Caracas. Exactly how wormholes or time portals work isn’t well understood, apparently.

The Truth

As you’ve hopefully already figured out, the story of Pan Am Flight 914 was a total fabrication. But in this case, unlike with many urban legends, the source of that fabrication is known. 

It dates to a story first published in 1985 by the Weekly World News, the onetime tabloid (now website), which specializes in crazy, concocted stories like this one. The paper ran the story again twice in the 1990s (with the plane’s arrival date changed to 1992 in those later stories).

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The tale got a huge boost when YouTube channel Bright Side put out a video about the disappearance. The snappily produced video has gotten more than 15 million views, but it doesn’t get to the fact that it was a fake tabloid story until about two-thirds through. Bright Side introduced a number of  “details” that were not in the first Weekly World News story, including the fact that the plane was visible on radar. In any case, the video reveals that the story is a hoax only well toward the end.

It’s likely that others capitalized on this real-life fake news to share the story without adding that one pertinent detail, the one about how everyone knew all along the whole thing was a fanciful fabrication. It all goes to show how fascinated people are by airplanes, even when the story is concocted to create a paranormal sensation.

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