Nfld. & Labrador

Glacier Girl, buried in ice for decades, retries transatlantic flight

A fighter aircraft that spent decades buried in a glacier — earning the nickname Glacier Girl — has made its way back to the Labrador air base where its ill-fated mission began.

WW II fighter was 'completely crushed' when it was dug out of a glacier in 1992

A fighter aircraft that spent decades buried in a glacier — earning the nickname Glacier Girl — has made its way back to the Labrador air base where its ill-fated mission began.

Bob Cardin inspects Glacier Girl in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. He said that when his crew tunnelled through ice and found the plane, 'Every single piece was broken.' ((Peter Cowan))
The P-38 Lightning was among a squadron that left Happy Valley-Goose Bay in 1942, headed for the war-torn skies of Europe.

The squadron never made it. Poor weather forced the pilots to crash-land in Greenland, and although the crews were rescued, the planes lay buried for decades in ice.

Glacier Girl was recovered during a lengthy operation in 1992. Last week, it lifted off from New Jersey to take a second run at the transatlantic crossing.

However— in an echo of its 1942 journey— poor weather has groundedthe planefor a few daysin Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Bob Cardin, who led the U.S. expedition that retrieved the plane, said he'shappy that Glacier Girl is finally on its way to England, where it will appear at an air show in Duxford in July.

He remembered thearduous recovery operation in 1992. His crew tunnelled for daysthrough 80 metres of glacier, then usedsteam hoses to melt the ice around the plane.

Flying Glacier Girl can be tricky, according to pilot Steve Hinton: 'When it rains outside, it rains inside, too, in the cockpit.' ((Peter Cowan) )
"We found that the plane had been completely crushed. Every single piece was broken," Cardin told CBC News.

"We dismantled the plane right down to its very first piece, [and] started fixing it a piece at a time."

Cardinspent a decade putting the plane back together, managing to haveabout 80 per cent of the original parts restored. He said the effort has been worth it.

"It becomes part of you, actually," he said.

"After a while, you're with it every day— day in and day out. Your whole day, everything you do, is based on what's going on with the plane."

Steve Hinton, who is piloting the plane on its latest transatlantic journey,said that while the pilot can access modern technology to help predict the weather, it still has the limitations of the era in which it was built.

"It's still an old airplane," Hinton said.

"When it rains outside, it rains inside, too, in the cockpit, so it's one of those planes you don't fly in really severe weather."

Hinton said he hopesGlacier Girl will be able to take flight again on Tuesday, depending on the weather.

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