A World War II plane that was lost in Greenland decades ago is found deep under glacial ice. The warplane was part of the so-called Lost Squadron, and was first spotted by an aerial drone, although a ground-based survey confirmed the location. The researchers hope to eventually melt the ice and restore the warplane. Credit: Hot Point Solutions
Searchers have located the wreckage of a P-38 Lightning fighter planes buried deep within a glacier in Greenland, more than 70 years after a lost squadron of US warplanes, an emergency landing on the ice, during the second world War.
The search team plans to dig up and melt the rediscovered warplane of the glacier next summer — and the researchers hope that their techniques may find other World War II air wrecks in the area, including a number that are MIA (missing in action) AMERICAN pilots. [Photos: the world WAR ii Battleship ‘USS Juneau’ Discovered]
The search leader, California businessman Jim Salazar, told Science that the team found the wrecked P-38 on July 4, more than 300 feet (91 meters) of ice using a ground-penetrating radar antenna mounted on a heavy-lift aerial drone. The drone was scanning a part of the glacier, where hints of the buried warplane were detected in 2011.
The Lost Squadron of planes included in a group of two B-17 bombers and six P-38 fighters from the united states to great Britain in July 1942, when they were in a storm and went down in remote Greenland. Here is a photo of the P-38 fighter on the ice.
(Credit: US Army)
A ground team used a thermal probe to melt through the thick ice — it was covered with hydraulic oil from the burial of the aircraft.
Salazar said that the radar-equipped drone had located the warplane under the ice in a few minutes of flight, while a ground crew would have taken 6 or 7 hours to cover the same area with a radar sled.
The burial of a plane in a remote area made dangerous by hidden ice crevasses, sudden storms, and hungry polar bears. “This is a very cold weather region and an inhospitable location,” Salazar said.
This last echoes of the 1992 recovery of a P-38 fighter from the same “Lost Squadron of AMERICAN fighter jets in Greenland. The fighter was eventually restored to flying condition under the name of “Glacier Girl”.
Both aircraft were part of a group of two B-17 bombers and six P-38 fighters from the united states to great Britain in July 1942. They were on a trip to a chain of secret air bases in Newfoundland, Greenland and Iceland known as the Snowball Route.
Hundreds of AMERICAN aircraft flew this route during the second world War as part of the Operation of the Bolero of ravel, which provided aircraft, pilots, equipment and supplies for the planned Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.
But after flying in a heavy snowstorm, the eight planes of the lost squadron were forced to make a crash landing on the surface of the glacier next to Køge Bay in the southeast of Greenland.
Salazar said that the area was known by the pilots as a Piteraq Alley because of its tendency to spawn heavy snowstorms that can occur in minutes “piteraq” in the Greenlandic Inuit language.
A similar storm kept the search team in the tents on the glacier for three days in this summer’s expedition, Salazar said.
Greenland Bermuda Triangle
The rediscovered fighter is identified from the crash site as the P-38 “Echo”, piloted by Army Air Corps Lt.-Col. Robert Wilson.
Wilson and the other members of the crews of the lost squadron of fighters were rescued from the ice, but also other AMERICAN servicemen whose aircraft crashed in the same area were not so lucky.
“It is Greenland’s ‘Bermuda Triangle’ … the weather shifts in a matter of minutes,” Salazar said. “As a pilot, you can well understand why there are so many problems in that area.” [Gallery: Lost in the Bermuda Triangle]
Salazar has led researchers to the Greenland glacier, in search of the Lost Squadron planes since 2011, by means of a non-profit he co-founded with colleague Ken McBride called Arctic Hot Point Solutions.
The summer expeditions, each consisting of a team of about six searchers, had cost between $300,000 and $450,000 per piece, Salazar said. Most of that money is coming from Salazar himself, who is the owner of a machinery business in Pasadena, California.
The team hopes to repair the new found P-38 fighter from his icy tomb and restore the aircraft to flying condition.
The twin-tailed P-38 Lightning was an iconic World War II aircraft, but only about 10 remain in museums all over the world and only a few are still flying, Salazar said.
Salazar now hopes that the aerial drones equipped with ground-penetrating radar can help the team find the wreckage of a Grumman J2F-4 amphibious “Duck” aircraft, operated by the U. S. Coast Guard. That plane crashed on the same glacier in Greenland in November 1942, just a few months after the lost squadron went.
The Duck phone had been part of a quest to find the surviving crew of a C-53 Skytrooper aircraft, operated by the us Army Air Corps, which is also an emergency landing on the glacier in bad weather, Salazar said.
The bodies of the crew of the downed C-53 were never found; nor were the bodies of three U.S. military aboard the Duck plane recovered, despite a multimillion-dollar search effort funded by the U.S. government at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, or DPAA.
In 2013, the DPAA announced that it was the Duck, the crash site, but the reported discovery turned out to be a “false positive,” Salazar said.
If all goes well, and the weather in Greenland permits, Salazar’s team is working on three aircraft wrecks next summer: the melting and digging through the ice to recover from the new found P-38, looking for the wreck of the u.s. Coast Guard Duck, and the search for the wreck of the C 53.
Although radio contact established that about five of the AMERICAN soldiers aboard the C-53 survived the crash, the bad weather and the subsequent crashes of the search-and-rescue aircraft, this meant that crew members were never brought back — eventually they would have starved or frozen to death. “Our intention is to repatriate these men,” Salazar said.
Original article on Live Science.