The incredible story of the P-38E Lightning Glacier Girl will once again be told in Oshkosh this summer as this special aircraft makes its fourth consecutive appearance at AirVenture 2011. Glacier Girl is expected to arrive Sunday before the convention or Monday, says Bob Cardin, flight operations manager, and it will be on display - with an all-new informational exhibit - near the Warbirds in Review presentation area.
The airplane was originally attached to Operation Bolero, America's troop and materiel buildup in Great Britain in 1942. It along with five other P-38s and two B-17s comprised what would come to be known as "The Lost Squadron" when weather forced them to land on the Greenland icecap. The people were eventually evacuated but the aircraft were left behind. Over the ensuing years they became buried under 200 feet of ice.
This group of missing aircraft has been sought by warbird collectors ever since the late David Tallichet mounted an expedition looking for them in 1977. Others followed in the 1980s but were unsuccessful. In 1992 Cardin's team melted a vertical shaft through more than 200 feet of glacial ice, and used hot water to hollow out an ice room around the now accessible P-38 to begin its disassembly and removal.
Ten years later, the rare, early-model P-38 christened Glacier Girl took to the air once more with veteran warbird pilot Steve Hinton at the control yoke. Several years later Cardin told an AirVenture audience that Glacier Girl has the only complete P-38 armament package, including accessory items, in the world. "When the plane was abandoned there, it became a time capsule," he explained.
Eighty percent of Glacier Girl is original, Cardin said, adding that the airframe sustained crushing damage under the ice that made it not feasible to use more. It has flown with its wartime Allison engines. You'll hear the aircraft's distinctive sound when it arrives Sunday or Monday.
Watch an EAA video from its 2007 Oshkosh appearance:
DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3;
2015: July 27-Aug. 2