Pittsburghpedia: What’s the “Ghost Bomber” — and will we ever find it?

Know your weird and wonky Pittsburgh terms? This post is part of our Pittsburghpedia series, a handy glossary of words and phrases unique to our city that’ll help you #talklikeyoulivehere. Let’s fill you in. Today’s entry … The Pittsburgh Ghost Bomber.

WHAT IS IT? A B-25 military plane that crash landed in the Mon River in 1956. Six crew members were on board at the time. All survived the crash. Only four survived in the cold January water. Despite the survival of those crew members and despite the existence of many eyewitnesses on land, the plane’s final resting place remains a mystery all these years later. 

IS ANYONE LOOKING FOR IT? Yes. The volunteer B-25 Recovery Group has spent years searching for the wreckage. Members say they think they’re closer than ever to finding it but also racing against time and the elements

ANY NEW LEADS? Sort of. Just this week, a couple was magnet fishing near the Homestead Grays Bridge when they found what they believed to be an explosive from the missing plane. The “Ghost Bomber” passed over the bridge on its descent and touched down roughly a mile away, B-25 Recovery Group member Matt Pundzak told The Incline.

And while some hoped a missing link had finally been found, Pundzak, who viewed photos of the shell with news reports on its discovery, insists a shell like it would have had no place on a military plane like the B-25. 

“What I believe the couple is holding in that photo is a 105mm artillery round. (…) And the B-25 never dropped a 105mm artillery round. This type of shell is for a piece of artillery, not a plane,” Pundzak said. 

As for how it got in the river, Pundzak agrees with internet sleuths who have pegged a nearby munitions factory as the likely source. (On a side note: If the finders of the shell also want to be keepers of the shell, Pundzak urges them to have police check the device to make sure it’s dead, assuming they haven’t already.)

WHAT’S NEXT? For members of the volunteer B-25 Recovery Group, it’s business as usual, and the search continues. 

Pundzak said members of the B-25 Recovery Group hope to get back on the water before the end of the year. 

“The quest is gonna continue, and we’ll keep plugging along,” Pundzak said.

In the meantime, he’s working on a screenplay about the whole ordeal. That project, currently in the concept phase, is tentatively titled “Dark Waters.” 

Got a Pittsburgh term you’re curious about? Ask away.