Plane Crash Mystery!
By Kevin Fagin-SFChronicle
Somewhere below the ocean waves, probably about 2,000 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge and 15,000 feet deep, lies a pile of cold metal that may yield answers to a mystery that has agonized two men for most of their lives.
That pile is the wreckage of the Romance of the Skies, a Pan Am luxury airliner that left San Francisco International Airport 50 years ago this week en route to Hawaii - and vanished.
Investigators eventually found a handful of bodies and a few bits of wreckage floating a hundred miles north of the flight path - but nobody has ever figured out why the plane crashed, exactly where it crashed, or even whether all 44 people who were booked for the flight were actually on board that day.
What the disappearance left behind is a whodunit worthy of Agatha Christie, only real.
It involves two suspected onboard bombers, the possibility that the propeller assembly was so bad it shattered, and a missing flight tape recording - which, if found, could be processed through modern machinery to finally reveal what manner of chaos was going on in those final moments before death.
Did fire bring down the Romance? Mechanical malfunction? Sabotage by bomb or poison gas? All are possibilities.
The questions haunt Ken Fortenberry, 56, and Gregg Herken, 60. They are determined to never rest until they get answers.