I’m fascinated with stories of people and/or things that disappear without a trace. I think it all started back when I watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind with my dad in the movie theatre. That lead me to UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle and other mysteries. It’s never stopped, which was why I was intrigued by Skymaster Down.
Debuting Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on documentary Channel, filmmaker Andrew Gregg heads north to uncover a headscratcher case that hasn’t been solved in over 70 years.
Here are the facts. U.S. Air Force Douglas Skymaster #2469 departed Anchorage, Alaska, for Great Falls, Nebraska, on January 26, 1950, with 44 passengers—members of the U.S. military, and a pregnant woman and her child—on board. After checking in with Snag Airport over the radio, it suddenly disappeared over the Yukon without a trace. A massive search—where four rescue planes crashed—ensued, with no results.
Did it hurtle into a lake? Why wasn’t an SOS sent? Did it slam into a mountain? Become buried in a glacier? Gregg and others, like the late Gerry Whitley of the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association in Whitehorse, attempt to find out, tracing the route #2469 took—a route still travelled today, it should be noted—and bring closure to the families who were left behind. Gregg is a master storyteller, giving an extensive history of the region at the time, including how and why the route #2469 flew was established in the first place, how an intensive military exercise may have played a part in the disappearance and why reports of an incident by an Indigenous man were ignored.
What sets Skymaster Down apart—aside from buggy visits in the north—from other docs in this vein are the interviews with the families of those lost. These chats paint a picture of the people in the images flashed on-screen, adding another layer of sorrow to an already devastating tale.
Skymaster Down airs Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on documentary Channel.