Aviation

The reality of Operation Bolero

Before the US got involved in WWII we were delivering supplies and arms to help the allies. In 1942 a plan was created to help the British push back the Germans for a mid 1943 invasion, which never happened. Operation Bolero as it was called laid the groundwork for operation overlord which was the allied invasion of Normandy in 1944. The plan called for vital supplies to brought over to the UK, including aircraft. It was a dangerous route in which several planes were lost. It required a hop to Canada, Greenland, Iceland and finally England. The weather was a major factor in the trans-Atlantic journey and it caused several problems.

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On July 15th 1942, eight planes went down between Greenland and Iceland. The weather had closed in making visibility almost nill. With low cloud cover over the snowy landscape and fuel running low, two B-17’s of the 97th Bomb Group and six P-38’s of 94th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group, had to emergency land on the Greenland Ice Cap. One P-38 tried to land wheels down but cart nosed over and landed upside down. The rest of the planes safely bellied landed. All crew members and pilots survived the crashed. The boys were all picked up a few days later and continued on their wartime journey. The planes however remained there for decades. In 1980 a salvage operation was lead for the B-17 “Big Stoop” but it took till 1988 to find the metal signatures in the ice of the eight aircraft. In 1990 they were able to melt down enough ice to reach the wing of Big Stoop, one of the B-17’s, only to find the plane mangled beyond repair. It was then theorized that a P-38 might be better preserved due to it’s armor plating. In 1992 they returned once again and after several weeks of ice removal were able to bring up the P-38 known today as Glacier Girl. Today it is one of the prime examples of the P-38 Lightning. Owned by Rod Lewis this magnificent can be seen across the skies through out the year.

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