An ongoing effort led by Jim Salazar and Ken McBride of Arctic Hot Point Solutions and the Fallen American MIA Repatriation Foundation has resulted in the discovery of another P-38 Lightning of the “Lost Squadron.”
The flight, which took place on July 15, 1942, was part of the Allied buildup in Europe known as “Operation Bolero” and consisted of six P-38s and two B-17s. The route toward England would include stops in Labrador, Greenland and Iceland to refuel, however, along the way, the aircraft encountered severe weather conditions and were forced to land on a glacier on Greenland’s hazardous east coast. While the crews were rescued by the Coast Guard, the aircraft would remain, eventually being entombed by hundreds of feet of ice.
Efforts over the years have resulted in the discovery of several aircraft, including one P-38 now known as “Glacier Girl” (pictured above), which was recovered and restored to airworthy condition. For this latest search, Arctic Hot Point Solutions employed a new technology featuring a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) system mounted to a heavy lift drone. This specialty programmed drone system yielded rapid results, identifying the location of another P-38 aircraft on one of the first passes. The discovery of this particular aircraft that was piloted by Robert H. Wilson, would be a major success for the team. During the subsequent drilling process to confirm the find, 5606 hydraulic aircraft fluid was extracted from the site, helping to substantiate the presence of the machine.
This aircraft was reportedly the second Lost Squadron P38 to land on the glacier, alighting belly-down with its gear retracted.
With support from Greenland, Danish, US, and UK governments, the team is now planning to begin recovery efforts in the summer of 2019 while also continuing its search for other WW2 aircraft lost in the area. One of the primary targets aside from the Lost Squadron, is the U.S. Coast Guard J2F Duck, with missing in action servicemen presumed still inside the wreck. The primary goal with this project is to recover the long lost men and repatriate them to the USA and their surviving families.
The organization points out that these projects are very costly, and they are seeking support not only financially, but with equipment and manpower as well.
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Our thanks to Jim Salazar for his assistance preparing this article.