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Douglas DC-4. Wikimedia Commons

Pan American World Airways is one of history’s most recognizable airlines. It is regarded as a sign of aviation’s golden age. The airline would be 91 years old if it had lasted to this day, having been established on 14th March 1927. Before its collapse in 1991, the airline was the largest foreign carrier in the US. It flew 11 million travelers to 86 countries in 1970 itself.

Pan Am is often regarded as a pioneer in many aspects of contemporary air travel, and its classic aviation style has earned it worldwide fame. For the majority of its life, “Pan Am” was the United States’ primary foreign airline. Pan Am sold “around the world” service by the 1950s, and its name was as well-known internationally as Coca-Cola.

But there is a strange unsolved mystery related to this flight, that the plane disappeared and reappeared after three decades. In recent years, researchers are driven insane by the mystery of Pan Am Flight 914.

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Pan Am DC-4 Clipper Twilight. Wikimedia Commons

The Mystery

This unsolvable incident is said to involve a plane that flew from New York to Miami, Florida on July 2, 1955. It was the Pan American Flight 914. It was a perfect sunny day, and the 57 people including 4 crew members on the plane were eager to see Florida’s warm and sandy beaches. The flight took off from New York without any interruption but it disappeared into the clouds in less than a few minutes and hours later it was nowhere to be found when it should have already landed in Miami. Pan Am Flight 914 went missing, leaving no clue of its own or any of the passengers and crew.

The plane crashed, killing everyone on board, according to an official statement released by the authorities. They couldn’t find the aircraft and presumed it had crashed and fallen in the sea because no plane had been found on the ground. It pointed to the aircraft being lost, it had disappeared from radars, and traffic control could not really communicate with both the pilots via radio.

But then something extraordinary occurred in 1992 that forever altered the course of history. It was September 9, 1992, when out of nowhere a chartered DC4 with 57 passengers reappeared and landed in Caracas, Venezuela. Pan Am Flight was rediscovered after 37 years of vanishment.

Passengers at Miami International Airport, waiting for a Pan-Am flight in June 1975. Wikimedia Commons

Flights in the air were being monitored by traffic controllers at the Caracas airport. However, then something strange occurred. Unexpectedly, a new plane appeared on the radar system from nowhere. The aircraft was quickly visible to the traffic controllers. As it came near they could see it was a chartered DC4 plane.

The initial confusion started when the mysterious plane’s pilot approached the tower and asked, “Where are we?” said Juan de la Corte, who played a significant role and is one of the key people in this Pan Am mystery.” Juan didn’t waste any time in grilling the pilot with pertinent questions. After a moment’s delay, the pilot responded with a response that actually elevated this story to the next level. “We are Pan American Airways Flight 914 from New York to Miami, with a crew of four and 57 passengers,” and “we were scheduled to land in Miami at 9:55 a.m. on July 2, 1955,” said the pilot. Juan quickly affirmed to the pilot that he had arrived in Caracas and that it was, indeed, May 21, 1992

Juan merely stated the date to the pilot. The pilot, however, went into a panic as soon as he heard this and took off the aircraft yet again, mysteriously disappearing.

“Clipper Unity” Pan Am Boeing 747-100 N653PA. Wikimedia Commons

The Theory

According to some theories, just a few hours after suddenly leaving Caracas, the Pan Am aircraft landed at the airport it had actually decided to fly to all those decades before, Miami Airport. The people on board were allowed to go home and reunite with their families by the officials. But then something even creepier happened, and the story was taken to a whole different extreme. Everyone onboard, including the passengers and crew, looked completely the same as they did when the plane took off in 1955. They hadn’t aged at all, despite the fact that their families had grown older by 37 years.

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Is it all a spoof, or was Flight 914 actually lost along the way for decades? If the above is true then where was the aircraft throughout all those 37 years? How did everyone in the plane not show any signs of aging? If this theory is correct, why hasn’t the case been interrogated by the government? Is time travel a real possibility? Well, there appear to be no solid proofs and answers to a number of pertinent questions up to this point. Every mystery reveals some intriguing aspects. The more people heard about this strange story, the more questions they seemed to have. This case’s mystery was never completely settled. The circumstances surrounding the plane’s disappearance have sparked so many controversies that separating fact from fiction has become impossible.

By- Khushi Bisht



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Milky Way galaxy as seen from Chitkul Valley

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has for the first time spotted signs of a planet transiting a star outside of the Milky Way galaxy, opening up a new avenue to search for exoplanets at greater distances than ever before.

The possible exoplanet -- or planets outside of our Solar System -- candidate is located in the spiral galaxy Messier 51 (M51), also called the Whirlpool Galaxy because of its distinctive profile, NASA said in a statement.

Astronomers have, so far, found all other known exoplanets and exoplanet candidates in the Milky Way galaxy, almost all of them less than about 3,000 light-years from Earth.

An exoplanet in M51 would be about 28 million light-years away, meaning it would be thousands of times farther away than those in the Milky Way, NASA said.

"We are trying to open up a whole new arena for finding other worlds by searching for planet candidates at X-ray wavelengths, a strategy that makes it possible to discover them in other galaxies," said Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The exoplanet candidate was spotted in a binary system called M51-ULS-1, located in M51. This binary system contains a black hole or neutron star orbiting a companion star with a mass about 20 times that of the Sun. The X-ray transit they found using Chandra data lasted about three hours, during which the X-ray emission decreased to zero.

Based on this and other information, the team estimates the exoplanet candidate in M51-ULS-1 would be roughly the size of Saturn and orbit the neutron star or black hole at about twice the distance of Saturn from the Sun.

The team looked for X-ray transits in three galaxies beyond the Milky Way galaxy, using both Chandra and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton. Their search covered 55 systems in M51, 64 systems in Messier 101 (the "Pinwheel" galaxy), and 119 systems in Messier 104 (the "Sombrero" galaxy).

However, more data would be needed to verify the interpretation as an extragalactic exoplanet. One challenge is that the planet candidate's large orbit means it would not cross in front of its binary partner again for about 70 years, thwarting any attempts for a confirming observation for decades, NASA said.

Named in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the Chandra X-ray Observatory is the world's most powerful X-ray telescope. It has eight times greater resolution and is able to detect sources more than 20-times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope.

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