Astronaut Donald "Deke" K. Slayton (on right) and 1st Lt. Ed Steinman (on left) beside a Douglas A-26 bomber in the Pacific Theater of Operations during the summer of 1945. While the exact location is unknown, the photograph was most likely taken on Okinawa. 1st Lt. Slayton was one of only two NASA astronauts to fly combat missions during World War II.
Deke spent a year in Europe as a B-25 pilot with the 340th Bombardment Group, completing 56 combat missions. In 1944, he returned to the United States for a year before being assigned to Okinawa with the 319th Bombardment Group. As part of the first group to fly combat with the A-26 aircraft, he flew seven combat missions over Japan. Slayton logged more the 6,600 hours of flying time, including 5,100 in jet aircraft. He was named as one of the seven Mercury astronauts in April 1959 and was scheduled to pilot the Mercury- Atlas 7 mission, but a heart condition prevented him from flying. After years of work as the Coordinator of Astronaut Activities and Director of Flight Crew Operations, he was again declared fit to fly in March 1972. Three years later he participated in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project as the Apollo docking module pilot. While he did not fly again, he continued to work for NASA until 1982 in a variety of capacities. He died on June 13, 1993.
He enjoyed piloting racing planes and he died doing what he loved. His date of death is very important for reasons that will be obvious to you. He died at home at 3:22 a.m. on June 13, 1993 and this was witnessed by his wife and daughter. Now here is where things get really strange. The plane that he loved to race turned up in the sky above John Wayne Airport in California on June 13, 1993 at 7:57 a.m.. Even though he died in Texas and there is a time difference, there is no way that he could have been piloting the plane, since he was already deceased. Well I guess by now it must be obvious that you think that somebody else was at the controls? I know that I would have to think that this was the obvious explanation, since the plane wouldn't be flying itself.
There is a problem with this idea however. The problem is one that is insurmountable. His plane was very distinct and had huge numbers painted on the fuselage. It was also a very noisy aircraft which made many people look up as it flew, and many of them noted the registration and type of plane.
The Federal Aviation Administration sent a letter of citation against the registered owner and pilot of the plane stating that the noise level was above the allowed amounts. The family upon receiving this letter immediately contacted the FAA and told them several interesting facts. The first one of course was that Slayton could not have been piloting the plane since he had died before the incident.
Another interesting fact was that the plane had been put into an aircraft museum in Nevada, before the date of the fly over and the engine had been removed. The plane had been seen taking off from the airport, but the FAA was informed that the plane never had an electric starter and therefore it required somebody on the outside of the plane to help get it going. The many witnesses that had seen the plane were interrogated many times by different agencies and local pilots, none of them wavered in the identification of the plane.
The plane performed maneuvers over the airport that day and climbed suddenly into the clouds and was never seen again.