I was tipped to read this this book and I got no regrets! This book by David Hayes from 1994 is an easily readable and fascinating story, combined with many beautiful color and black / white photographs. It tells the story of a search for eight missing WW2-aircraft in Greenland.
The story begins on July 16, 1942 when two B-17 “Flying Fortresses” and six P-38 Lighting were on their way from the U.S. to Europe. It was war and the front in Europe should be strengthened. On the route from Greenland to Iceland the weather conditions deteriorated so that the purpose of the trip that day, namely, Iceland was no longer feasible.The pilots decided to fly back towards Greenland, but as the fuel went to ‘bingo’ the pilots decided land the eight (yes 8!) aircraft on the ice of Greenland.
Seven aircraft did land successful, only one aircraft made a rollover, but everyone survived. Most pilots and crew had no injuries. In the days after the emergency landings they tried to make contact with the outside world and after a while that worked out perfect. There were some goods dropped by a Dakota and a Catalina. Then a rescue operation was launched and all the crew were rescued.
Years later, in 1981 the first attempt was made by Rajani with some friends to track the planes from Alaska. This attempt failed because the planes simply could not be found. That happened while the planes in Greenland were seen from the air in 1961! Finding the aircraft was a bit disappointing so to say!
A few more attempts and many dollars further, the ‘Winston Recovery team’ departed from Atlanta to Greenland in 1983. This team had better luck because they had better salvage material with them combined with –even much more important- radar. Especially the radar was indispensable. The team found the aircraft a few years later at about 70 meters deep under the ice … still smelling oil! Imagine!
How do you get the aircraft above the ice? To bring a B-17 above the ice was because of its size not really an option. A P-38 was easier because it is a smaller aircraft. Finally it took 12 years and several million dollars to lift a P-38 to the surface. It was a big job and it was especially a huge logistical operation to get all the necessary resources and equipment on location. An extensive network of people (and sponsors!) from the aviationworld were involved in this adventure.
In 1992 they began to collect all the components in a hangar in Kentucky with one goal and that was to restorate the P-38. Goal was that the entire plane could fly again. Would the “Glacier Girl” fly in the end? A little search on the internet gives you the answer!
All in all it is a wonderful book; lots of very good pictures and well documented. Very nice are the pictures that were made by the crews in 1942. David Hayes had to do a lot of research to get the book published this way. The result is passionate! I also want to join a search for a aircraft! You can find my email account on this site.