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Catawba Alumnus Pilot of Famous Flying Dud

January 04, 2013

Category: Alumni


SomersThe discovery of the rare wreckage of a Brewster Buffalo plane in only 10 feet of water has rekindled interest in the aircraft. Amidst the history of American military aviation, the rounded, snub-nosed fighter stands out as a turkey.  

The day of ignominy for the plane was in the epic Battle of Midway (June 1942), when a number of Marine pilots engaged Japanese Zeroes in dogfights above Midway Atoll, strategically located roughly 1,300 miles northwest of Honolulu. Only five of the pilots and planes returned.

Catawba alumnus Charles Somers '37 piloted the very Brewster Buffalo from which wreckage has been discovered. After landing just short of a runway during a storm, Somers swam to safety as the plane sank. Somers went on to have a distinguished military career, retiring as a colonel, and died in 1992.
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InfoFULL STORY: 10 Feet Below Waters Off Midway Atoll, a Famous Flying Dud (NYTimes)