Thursday, June 30, 2011

Three Weeks and Counting

Mt ticket has been purchased! The time is slowly passing to our start date of Saturday, July 23rd. I am really starting to get fired up about it with all the new announcements coming out as to the planes that will be there. I am really excited to hear that "Glacier Girl" will be there. If you are not familiar with historic WWII aircraft, this is a P-38 fighter/pursuit aircraft that was one of the fastest fighters in the European Theater of Operations prior to the arrival of the P-51 Mustang.
The aircraft was very unique in its design with twin engines and dual tail booms with the cockpit centered on the wing.
It was a great advance in aircraft design of the time with incredible speed and range. The 8th Air Force bomber command was thrilled to finally have a fighter aircraft that could do escort duty on long range bombing runs almost to the German border. Prior to the arrival of the P-38, the B-17's and B-24's were escorted by the available fighters as far as their fuel would last while allowing the fighters to return to England. Once the fighters had to turn back the Luftwaffe would attack the bombers who were sitting ducks. The loss rate of the bombers was terribly high with only 17% of the airmen manning these heavy bombers surviving the initial 25 missions that were required before being reassigned back to the states or a safer assignment.
In 1942 a flight of these aircraft were flying back to the United States but were forced by the weather to make an emergency landing on the Greenland icecap. The crews were later rescued but the aircraft were left where they made the emergency landings and were eventually covered by the ice. When they were located in 1992 by search teams the planes were buried under 200 feet of ice. The team melted a shaft down to one plane and by continuing to melt out a cavern the team was able to disassemble and bring the historic aircraft to the surface piece by piece. After 10 years of restoration the aircraft is flying again. This is the only true wartime example of this aircraft in the world and is priceless. The twin Allison engines are said to have a very distinctive sound that I look forward to hearing and seeing it actually approach and land.
This is just one of the many historic aircraft we will see in Oshkosh. As time allows I will post more of these tidbits about the event.

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