In addition to David Cundall’s recent discovery of TWENTY crated, buried, and fully intact British Spitfires in Burma (see previous article on 4/23/2012), two more missing military aircraft have recently been found. Here are the stories of those amazing discoveries…
WWII Saharan Surprise
In a moment right out of a Steven Spielberg and George Lucas Indiana Jones fantasy. Jakub Perka, an oil company worker scouting the vast wastelands of the Saharan desert, stumbled upon an amazing sight. There, half-buried in the sand, but sitting upright and largely intact, was a vintage, WWII P-40 Kittyhawk. A victim of an obviously hard landing, the British fighter plane had been in that exact spot, lost, forgotten and unknown for over 70 years.
Despite the harsh desert environment, the Kittyhawk was in amazingly good condition. Its RAF markings are clearly visible along the fuselage and six, fully loaded machine gun barrels still protrude menacingly from the wings. It’s detached propeller rests bent and twisted nearby. Bullet holes from a long-ago battle pepper the fuselage, but the exact reasons for the plane’s downing remain a mystery.
Sadly, this was not a real-world version of the 1960s adventure film, Flight of the Phoenix. The plane’s pilot, Flight Sergeant Dennis Copping, RAF, was unable to repair the P-40 and fly it out of the desert. His ultimate fate remains unknown at this time, although investigators have confirmed that he survived the crash and was able to construct a simple shelter.
Did Copping attempt to make it back to the nearest town, which was over 200 miles away? Or are his remains somewhere nearby the aircraft, still waiting to be discovered? This intriguing mystery sounds like an exciting mission for GIjOE’s Adventure Team! How about…“Search for the Missing Pilot!” For additional details and photographs, we recommend you visit this website HERE.
Korean War Alaskan Tragedy
At nearly the same time as the P-40’s discovery, half way around the world, a second, long-lost military plane was located by keen-eyed crew members of an Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. The plane they found would turn out to be a massive, Douglas C-124A Globemaster II, reported crashed during the Korean War, 60 years ago on November 22, 1952. After analyzing the wreckage, search parties were able to determine that all 52 on board were killed.
According to a news story broadcast by NBC affiliate KTUU…
“The identification brings closure to victims’ families after nearly 60 years. While evidence collected by the eight-man team is en route to JPAC’s Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii for further analysis, the plane was identifiable by materials found at the scene.
Crash researcher Tonja Anderson, whose grandfather Airman Isaac Anderson died in the crash, told KTUU the cargo plane was on a flight from McChord Air Force Base in Washington to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage when it crashed near the 8,000-foot level of Mount Gannett.”
Finding old “warbirds” can be both exciting—and sobering. With so few examples of these aircraft remaining, a discovery can feel like striking gold or solving a mystery from long ago. But once a search party’s boots are on the ground, the harsh realities of a crash site are revealed. Rest in Peace, Flight Sgt. Copping and Airman Issac Anderson; and all who flew with you.