Glacier Girl

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Glacier Girl
P-38 Lightning head-on.jpg
The restored Glacier Girl in flight
Type Lockheed P-38F-1-LO Lightning
Manufacturer Lockheed Corporation
Serial 41-7630
Owners and operators United States Army Air Forces

Glacier Girl is a Lockheed P-38F-1-LO Lightning World War II fighter plane, 41-7630, c/n 222-5757, that was restored to flying condition after being buried beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet for over 50 years.

Operational history[edit]

On 15 July 1942, due to poor weather and limited visibility, six P-38 fighters of 94th Fighter Squadron/1st FG and two B-17 bombers of a bombardment squadron were forced to return to Greenland en route to the British Isles during Operation Bolero. The aircraft were forced to make emergency landings on the ice field. All the crew members were subsequently rescued. However, Glacier Girl, along with the unit's five other fighters and the two B-17s, were eventually buried under 268 feet (82 m) of snow and ice that had built up over the ensuing decades.

Recovery and restoration[edit]

Fifty years later, in 1992, the plane was brought to the surface by members of the Greenland Expedition Society after years of searching and excavation. The aircraft was eventually transported to Middlesboro, Kentucky, where it was restored to flying condition.[1] The excavation of Glacier Girl was documented in an episode of The History Channel's "Mega Movers" series, titled "Extreme Aircraft Recovery".

The Lightning returned to the air in October 2002.[2]

On June 22, 2007, Glacier Girl departed Teterboro Airport, New Jersey in an attempt to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to Duxford, England to complete the flight it had begun sixty-five years earlier. On 28 June, however, a coolant leak in the #2 (right) engine grounded the plane in Goose Bay, Labrador.[3]

On July 22, 2007, repairs were completed in Labrador, which included installation of two re-manufactured Allison engines. Glacier Girl returned to the U.S. on July 23, and can now be seen at air shows in the USA.[citation needed]

In 2007, Glacier Girl was sold to Lewis Energy's CEO, Rodney Lewis.[4]

Return mission in 2016[edit]

In April 2016, a team en route to the crash site in Greenland and under the guidance of veteran pilot and explorer, Ron Sheardown, was interviewed while at the airport in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada[5] regarding plans to recover a second P-38.

The team plans to extract another P-38 from the ice between May and August 2016. The glacier is drifting towards the sea, leaving most of the planes near or in a crevasse field too dangerous for a salvage mission.

Led by entrepreneurs Ken McBride and Jim Salazar, the group of a dozen Canadian and American explorers who have been working on the project since 2010 will attempt to extract the P-38 "Echo", piloted by Capt. Robert Wilson and the second plane of the squadron to attempt landing, and donate it to a museum. Wilson's P-38 was the first to land wheels up after the first P-38, piloted by Brad Manus, flipped over when the front gear penetrated the ice on roll out and collapsed. The rest of the squadron successfully landed wheels up.[6]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Hayes, David, "The Lost Squadron - A Fleet of Warplanes Locked in Ice For Fifty Years", Chartwell Books / Madison Press Books, Edison, New Jersey / Toronto, Ontario, ISBN 0-7858-2376-X, 1994.
  2. ^ Glacier Girl History-Making Flight
  3. ^ "Operation Bolero II Headquarters". Archived from the original on November 17, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  4. ^ Sehnert, Walt (November 12, 2007), The icy rescue of the P-38 'Glacier Girl', McCook, Nebraska: McCook Daily Gazette, p. . 
  5. ^ "Pilote dans le Grand Nord à 79 ans". Le Journal de Montréal. 
  6. ^ "Des avions de guerre coincés sous 107 mètres de glace" (infographic) (in French). Le Journal de Montréal.