Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Ernest Cody and Charles Adams

Real Name: Lieutenant Ernest Dewitt Cody and Ensign Charles Ellis Adams
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: August 16, 1942


Occupation: US Navy
Date of Birth: Unrevealed
Height: Unrevealed
Weight: Unrevealed
Marital Status: Unrevealed
Characteristics: Unrevealed


Details: During 1942, the final outcome of World War Two was still very much in doubt and the United States was fearful of a Japanese invasion of its western shores. In February 1942, an oil refinery was attacked in Santa Barbara, California, and many feared that there would be more attacks. The military responded to these fears by sending out several large blimps to monitor enemy activity along the coastline.
Just after 6 am on August 16, 1942, an L-8 blimp designated "Flight 101" prepared for takeoff. The pilots were twenty-seven-year-old Lt. Ernest Cody and thirty-two-year-old Ensign Charles Adams. Both were experienced pilots, but this was the first time that Adams had flown in a small blimp such as an L-8. Aviation machinist mate Riley Hill was assigned to accompany the men for the flight. However, just before departure, he was inexplicably told to leave the ship. Hill believes that heavy moisture was weighing the blimp down, making it unsafe for him to remain on-board.

Intended flight path

Cody and Adams left Treasure Island and planned to fly on a routine maneuver. Their intended flight path would take them across the Golden Gate Bridge, heading towards the Farallon Islands, twenty miles off coast. From there, they would head north towards Pt. Reyes, and then south along the coastline.
The first leg proceeded without incident. An hour and a half after takeoff, at 7:38 am, Lt. Cody radioed squadron headquarters at Moffett Field. He stated that he was positioned three miles east of the Farallon Islands. Four minutes later, he called again, stating that he was investigating a suspicious oil slick. This was the last time the crew was heard from.
When they did not call in with their hourly position report, the personnel at Moffett Field became concerned. After three hours of radio silence, they received a message from San Francisco Shore Patrol. A blimp was seen crashing into a golf course next to a beach, releasing its depth charges. The blimp was eight miles off course, flying into Daly City. The blimp was soon noticed by several witnesses in the area drifting for several minutes.
One witness, Bunny Gillespie, was returning home from Sunday School when she saw the deflating blimp fly overhead. The blimp was quickly losing altitude and in danger of becoming tangled in power lines. One woman's house was nearly hit by the blimp. It dragged across her roof and then landed in a nearby street in Daly City. Fortunately, no one on the ground was injured.
Daly City officials were on the scene within minutes. They discovered that the blimp's helium bag was leaking and the two men on board were missing. A search of the gondola left investigators perplexed. The door was latched open, which was highly unusual mid-flight. The safety bar was no longer in place. A microphone hooked to an external loudspeaker was dangling outside of the gondola. The ignition switches and radio were still on. Cody's hat and a briefcase containing top-secret documents were still in place. Two life jackets were missing. However, no one saw them drop from the craft. The blimp was soon named the "Ghost Blimp" because of how the men vanished without any explanation.
A navy investigation discovered that the blimp had been seen by several ships and planes between 7 and 11 am on the day of the incident. Some were close enough to see the pilots inside. At the time, everything appeared normal. On August 17, 1943, both men were officially presumed dead.
Decades later, the blimp was sold and repaired to be used as a Goodyear Blimp. Although several theories have been brought up to explain what to the two men, to this day their case remains shrouded in mystery.

Actual Photo of the "Ghost Blimp"

Suspects: Several possible explanations have been brought up to suggest what may have happened to the men. One theory was that the men had spotted an enemy Japanese submarine and descended to investigate it. It is speculated that they were then taken prisoner by those on-board the submarine.
Another theory was that the two men were involved in a lover's triangle with an unknown woman. According to this theory, one had murdered the other in a jealous rage and then fled when the blimp reached land.
The Navy theorized that there was an accident, possibly a mechanical malfunction, on-board the blimp. They believe that one of the men climbed outside to fix the problem, but had run into trouble. When the second man came to his aid, both fell to their deaths.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the May 19, 1993 episode.
Results: Unsolved