Glacier Girl

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Glacier Girl, September, 2001

"Glacier Girl" was the name given to a Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter aircraft recovered from several aircraft which crash-landed in Greenland in 1942, and were subsequently covered with nearly 270 feet of ice during the following fifty years.

On July 15, 1942 six P-38s and two B-17 bombers took off from Presque Isle Air Base in Maine headed for Great Britain as part of Operation Bolero, the buildup of military aircraft in Europe in the first few months of World War II. On the flight were a total of 25 men. Bad weather over Greenland, as well as poor visibility, caused the flight to expend so much fuel that they would not be able to reach Iceland, necessitating an emergency landing on the ice in Greenland. All the men survived the landing and were rescued within four days, but the planes themselves could not be recovered.

In July, 1992, a recovery team had assembled on the crash site, which by that time had drifted a mile during the preceding fifty years. A boring drill called a "gopher" was used to melt a four-foot shaft of ice down to where one plane was located, about 268 feet, allowing men to climb down the shaft, disassemble the plane in sections, and attach it to a hoist. What was recovered took several years of reconstruction and replacement of parts damaged by the weight of the ice, until she was able to fly again on September 17, 2001.