Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Lost Squadron: A Fleet of Warplanes Locked in Ice for Fifty Years

The Lost Squadron: A Fleet of Warplanes Locked in Ice for Fifty Years, a true story by David Hayes
Chartwell Books/Madison Press Book, Text 1994, book 2007
Oversize, 207 pages, plus acknowledgments, Picture and illustration credits, Bibliography and index. Several b&w and color photos scattered throughout book.
Library: 940.544973 HAY

Pat Epps pointed downward at theglittering white icefields of southern Greenland. In August of 1980, after a week of buzzing around the Arctic in a single-engine plane, Epps and his friend Richard Taylor were flying home. The night before, in a bar at a remote airstrip, the talk turned to the legendary Lost Squadron. This squadron, so the story ran, was on a World WAr II mission when it ditched in Greenland in 1942. The crews had been rescued but but their brand-new warplanes were left on the icecap. Someone said they had been seen as recently as the sixties.

Epps and Taylor were intrigued. They returned to their jobs and families in Atlanta smitten with the allure of the Arctic and the notion that an intact squadron of World War II planes could be found there. For the next twelve years, this fascination would lead Epps and Taylor into an extraordinary adventure that would prove more challenging than either of them could have dreamed possible.

On July 15, 1942, a squadron of six P-38 Lightnings and two B-17 Flying Fortress bombers was flying from Greenland to Iceland when they ran into an Arctic blizzard. As conditions deteriorated, they decided to turn back, only to discover that the base was socked in. Running desperately low on fuel, the two bombers and six fighter planes crash-landed on the ice cap in the largest forced landing in history.

In August of 1981, almost forty years after the aircraft were abandoned, Patt Epps, Richard Taylor and two associates arrived at the site with winter camping gear and two magnetometers. Unable to locate the planes, they concluded that Greenland's winters had buried them in perhaps as much as forty feet of snow.

Many expeditions were to follow, with friends and family recruited as volunteers. It wasn't until 1988 with the help of subsurface radar, that they managed to locate the eight large objects beneath the ice. But a steam probe confirmed what they feared to hear. The planes lay 260 feet down - the equivalent of a 25 story building. And no machine in existence was capable of digging hundreds of feet into solid ice to retrieve a ten-ton plane with a fifty-two foot wingspan.

How a determined group of people overcame astonishing odds to finally rescue one of the P-38s of the Lost Squadron and bring it home to fly the skies again is a compelling modern adventure story. Here, it is grippingly told and lavishly illustrated with hundreds of fascinating photographs, paintings and diagrams.

Table of Contents
Part One: The Legend
1. Squadron Down
Part Two: The Search
2. You haven't failed until you quit
3. Here lies Big Stoop
Part Three: The Recovery
4. Tar Baby
5. Dreamers of the Day

No comments: