Glacier Girl flying over the Pacific following her recovery from under 260 feet of ice in Greenalnd, and subsequent restoration. (photo via Wikipedia)

Glacier Girl flying over the Pacific following her recovery from under 260 feet of ice in Greenalnd, and subsequent restoration. (photo via Wikipedia)

Ever dreamed of salvaging a WWII warbird from the wilderness? Well, now is your opportunity to take part! Ken McBride is looking for a few capable hands willing to help out on his trek to the Arctic this summer. They are planning to recover one of the Lockheed P-38 Lightnings trapped in the glacial ice below. The Lightning is one from the same group of six P-38′s and two B-17s which got stranded on the ice in Greenland during a WWII ferry operation. As most readers will be aware, a previous team recovered one of these P-38s back in the late 80s, and restored her to flight. We all know that aircraft as Glacier Girl now. It’s long been many a person’s dream to go back for the others, and this summer that’s exactly what will be happening. YOU could be a part of that mission!

Ken McBride has already organized several trips to the Greenland in previous years to prepare for this venture, and to chart the current locations of the aircraft, as the glacier has continued to move them closer to the sea. They have managed to locate one of the P-38s, and the focus of this summer’s mission will be to recover that aircraft, with the possibility of going back for the others in future years. McBride has been planning this operation for some five years, and has discussed the project at length with all of the major players in the previous salvage effort. His team will be using similar techniques to bore down to the Lightning and disassemble it for recovery.

The retractable ski-equipped Antonov AN-2 which will be hauling the team's supplies and equipment to the ice cap. McBride's team needs a couple of willing hands to help with the aircraft's annual ASAP. (photo via Ken McBride)

The retractable ski-equipped Antonov AN-2 which will be hauling the team’s supplies and equipment to the ice cap. McBride’s team needs a couple of willing hands to help with the aircraft’s annual ASAP. (photo via Ken McBride)

While this mission does not depend upon it, McBride is also seeking additional sponsorship to help defray costs, if any interested parties are willing to join him. He is also looking for a couple of rugged and capable volunteers to join the team. Perhaps you have what the mission needs. Here is what Ken McBride is currently looking for from his volunteers

1:  We need at least one and ideally two more guys to help out with the Antonov AN-2 in the Seneca Falls area (Finger Lakes) of upstate New York from May 12th thru May 22nd. The only qualifications required is a willingness to help, although some mechanical ability would be beneficial. If someone were relatively local, I could pay for some transportation costs and meals will be provided. This is obviously quite urgent. 

2: We could use probably two more guys on the icecap from approximately June 8th to perhaps the middle of August. We’re looking for guys that can do 3 to 4 week commitments, however if someone can pay for their own travel costs, one to two weeks would probably be workable. However there is some risk of being stuck on the icecap until the weather clears. We are flying strictly VFR. Weather can cancel flying for 4 to 6 days; possibly more.  The base of operations up there is the Kulusuk Airport. It’s about 90 miles from there to the icecap. 

3: Qualifications for working on the icecap: – general mechanical and/or electrical knowledge/abilities, cold weather prepared, strong work ethic, acceptance of basic/rough conditions with ‘less than gourmet’ food.

If you feel you have what it takes, and can afford the time to dedicate fully to this trip, Ken can be reached by e-mail at: GreenlandP38@gmail.com  Please be respectful of his time though, and only contact him if making a serious bid!

McBride's team camped out in 2011 on the Arctic glacier where the Lightnings are located. The Wilga support plane is in the background. (photo via Ken McBide)

McBride’s team camped out in 2011 on the Arctic glacier where the Lightnings are located. The Wilga support plane is in the background. (photo via Ken McBide)

For those interested in knowing what it’s like at the Arctic site, here’s what McBride told WarbirdsNews about his first trip out in 2011.

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“We received our initiation to the Greenland icecap!  We camped on the glacier for nearly two weeks, with several days of continuous day and night freezing rain, winds to and probably beyond 50 mph, and a crevasse that appeared after the first week heading directly behind our camp!  There were many other days of drizzle, fog and white out conditions. Weather was a major challenge. 

Burying the rods to tie the Wilga support plane down to the ice cap. (photo via Ken McBride)

Burying the rods to tie the Wilga support plane down to the ice cap. (photo via Ken McBride)

We buried anchor rods in the snow with cables to the wilga and it did ok. Many hours spent building a 6′ high snow wall around the tent, which needed daily upkeep. 

We did get a couple afternoon/evenings and two good full days to run the [ground penetrating] radar, and we are quite sure we located one of the P38′s….. 

It is likely the main group including two B17′s and three P38′s are in the crevasse field at this point. We ran the radar in a large grid adjacent to the crevasse area and found nothing. With the one find, and few good flying days, we opted to load up the Wilga and head back to Kulusuk. 

As it turns out, we happened to be out on the icecap in the worst storm in the past two months. The airport in Kulusuk was closed for a couple days, commercial flights cancelled, and winds blew over a small sea container! Weather is obviously a major factor in this part of the world, and will dictate what can be done and when. Nothing can be done here to pre-set schedules. 

In good weather, as it was the last couple days, the icecap is spectacular.”

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Greenland from the air. (photo via Ken McBride)

Greenland from the air. (photo via Ken McBride)

Make no mistake, this trip is not for the faint-hearted, and there certainly is some risk to life and limb involved, but it will be an adventure of a lifetime, and one you’ll never forget!

16 Comments

  1. charles webb says:

    Thank You For The Rescue!!!!!

    Long Live Old Iron

  2. Tim Matlack says:

    I discussed the up coming trip with Stan Bloyer prior to his trip West . I have sincere interest in being part of the recovery . You can reach me at 321 914 2732 .

    Regards , Tim

    • Tim, you can contact Ken McBride directly using the e-mail address listed in the article. Let us know how it goes!

      • This post must be older then the date listed, as Stan Bloyer passed away more then 2 years ago. I was lucky enough to have met Stan on a number of occasions while he was flying a now defunct CAF squadron’s aircraft. This cat could and did fly everything and would have been a great addition to your recovery team.

  3. Amazing story….. Good luck guys! Can’t wait to see you what happens!

  4. CAPT Donald Taub, USCG, Retired says:

    Two of my friends were among the on-site rescuers In 1942. The “Lost Squadron’s” 8 planes were on the surface centered at about 65*19.2′N, 40*14′ W. in 1942. I am curious about their present location, and how deeply they are now buried.
    CAPT Don Taub, USCG Retired

  5. CAPT Donald Taub, USCG, Retired says:

    I accidently made an error in the Lost Squadron’s 1942 location above. That was the location of what was called Ice Cap Station.
    The location of the 8-planes in 1942 was marked as centered at about 65*18.8′N, 40*01′W.
    CAPT Don Taub, USCG, Retired

  6. Gerald Asher says:

    They either have more money than sense, or they just plain got rocks in their head. When initially recovered, ‘Glacier Girl’ looked more like a pancake than a P-38, and there is a large part of me who still feels that the restoration was more of a face-saving measure than anything else (i. e. “We’ve come this far, what’s a few more million?”). How much did the whole expedition cost – and how much have those costs increased (exponentially?) since that time? If it’s just a case of needing a good tax writeoff, I know some worthwhile charities who could do wonders for the poor…

    • Guess what Gerald, it is pretty clear you have no appreciation for aircraft salvage so instead of being disrespectful to those that do it might be a good idea to keep your thoughts to yourself.

    • I agree with Willem, Gerald, you obviously have no appreciation for the historical significance of these aircraft, or the brave men and women(ferry pilots) that flew them, these aircraft when restored are living, breathing memorials to those who lost their lives while fighting for your freedom.

      • I remember communicating with Bob Cardin when GG was first completed and I asked Bob what % of GG was from the recovery and I believe it was less than 20%.

  7. Axelsson axel says:

    If you get into trouble transporting things! Ihave a 185 ,on skies i could be standby just in case you need more transporting

  8. Thomas Campbell says:

    Mid-Atlantic Air Museum
    7 hours ago
    The Museum is trying to locate a pair of Lockheed P-38 drop tank pylons. They are the same as the P-61 uses. We already have the tanks, we just need the pylons. Even just one and it could be unserviceable, or for parts only. Can anyone help locate them?

  9. I would like to place an advertisement on Ebay for the sale of one or several of the P-38′s. What would you charge to get one P-38 to the USA???

    • I believe the intent is to repatriate any of the P-38′s back to the USA and from what I’m reading they’re only going after one at this point in time, there was some talk when “Glacier Girl” was initially recovered of trying to recover all of the P-38′s and once restored to fly them as a squadron.

      • Thomas Campbell says:

        I am Sure for enough money they would get another one or all of them. Ebay would be a great way to advertise it. I need to know how much it would take?

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