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Scenario No.2

However, there is another possibility:

Just over three years later (29 Dec 1947) Leo Bell stated he first heard some planes passing eastwards over Inangahura Junction (roughly 8 miles north of his position). There was fog and light misty rain down to tree top height where he was. Soon afterwards, he heard one plane returning towards Westport passing over the Lower Inangahura Valley in a westerly direction. Unsure, but about 20 mins later, he heard another plane flying high overhead in about a NE direction. The impression he got was that it was lost. About another 20 mins later again, he heard another plane coming from a westerly direction and passed directly over his house at what sounded like was only a couple of hundred feet, and it went off in an easterly direction. It was still very foggy and rain was falling.

Why it took two to three years for Leo Bell to come forward with this apparently very important information? We will probably never know as he has since passed on. There is ‘hints’ in the files that he had mentioned it earlier but no-one was listening... at least the media wasn’t. I am suspicious though, that maybe he had thought so long and hard about it that his memory started filling in the gaps (incorrectly). This phenomena is now a fairly well known occurrence. You need to remember that he was trying to remember an observation that he had no real need at the time to take notice of, as at the time he had no way of knowing that one of the planes would go missing. Granted... the sound of Corsairs flying past is a sound that you would not forget in a hurry - especially to a farmer miles from anywhere, but it would get very easy to confuse the memory and mix the days up with the ones heard when the search began. However, if we treat his memory as being correct, what he would have heard was the three Corsairs at about the position where they commenced the turn to the left to return to Westport... Inangahura Junction. Soon afterwards he heard a plane passing over the Lower Inangahura Valley heading west and you’ll note that his belief was that it was returning to Westport. How could he know it was returning to Westport? All he could possibly know was it was travelling in a westerly direction - the rest he has presumed after reading or hearing about what happened. We now know that as Sheppard had turned back before they even got to Inangahura Junction, so this plane that he heard could not have been Sheppard when it is so easy to think it was!  From there, the next two planes he heard would not have been Barstow as very much doubt he would have still been flying around in that area 20 - 40 minutes later. If he had, he would surely have made a radio call, and if he was high up, he would have been heard... remember that Reynolds claimed that he had radioed to say he had oil on the windscreen just before they turned, so either Barstow’s radio was at least transmitting, or Reynolds had made up a ‘story’ to take any perceived blame away from himself.  There is of course the possibility that Barstow had given up on the radio though thinking it was U/S as no-one replied. If he was low down in these valleys, any radio calls made would not be heard in Westport anyway. If the plane he heard returning in a westerly direction was Barstow, then it means Barstow had been lucky enough to recover control under the cloud as had Sheppard. As we know, the weather was a lot worse down in that direction, and if he did have oil on the windscreen then it would have been very difficult to  

I once flew a plane that had various faults that showed up on the flight, until such time that I actually stopped trusting even the compass. I later found out to my detriment that the compass was working.... but that’s another story! The point I’m trying to make here, is that when everything seems to be going wrong, there is a tendency to stop trusting and become suspicious of everything! What happened to Barstow at that point where sight was lost of him, we may never know. I guess that he may have retained some sort of control for a short period of time and then went into a high speed spiral dive. If he never recovered from that dive, one day someone may find the remaining wreckage although it may not be in big pieces as it would have gone in at speed. It would be somewhere within a 5 mile radius as shown:

 

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