A World War II plane — part of what’s known as “the Lost Squadron,” which crash landed on Greenland’s ice caps in 1942 — is lost no more.
On July 15, 1942, two B-17 bomber planes and six P-38 fighters left Greenland en route to Great Britain. The planes ran into thick cloud cover about 90 minutes into the flight, forcing them to turn back. Running low on fuel, the squadron prepared for an emergency landing on the ice caps below. All crew members survived the landing but were trapped on the remote glacier off Greenland’s Køge Bay. Nine days later, a special Air Force unit rescued the 25-man crew, but the planes were left on the glacier, eventually buried under 350 feet of ice.
The planes remained lost until 1992 when one of the P-38s was rescued and restored. Now, another P-38, called Echo, has been located. Researchers from Arctic Hot Point Solutions first happened upon Echo while conducting radar searches of the area in 2011. It took them seven years to return, but now they’re equipped with powerful drone-mounted radar. They used a heat probe powered by a hot pressure washer to melt the thick ice layers and expose the buried aircraft.
Soon, they plan to lift Echo from its decades-long resting place, probably piece-by-piece, before reassembling it above ground. New salvage technology is making rescue efforts smoother and quicker than ever before. They might also be able to restore it to flying condition for air shows, as they did with a previous plane unearthed in the early 2000s.
The rescue team also hopes to find other World War II wrecks in the near future, including a US Coast Guard “Duck” aircraft that coincidentally crashed on the same glacier as the Lost Squadron in November 1942. Several men died in that crash, unfortunately, and the expedition would hope to repatriate the men. Research team leader Jim Salazar told Live Science that his crew will begin searching for the Duck plane next summer.
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