Oshkosh was first stop for rescued sections of aircraft in 1992
April 26, 2012 - The Lockheed P-38 Glacier Girl, the fearsome twin-boom fighter aircraft that has become one of the world’s most well-known warbirds since its rescue from the Greenland ice cap in 1992, will return to Oshkosh for EAA AirVenture on the 20th anniversary of its first public appearance.
The aircraft, which began flying in 2002 after a 10-year restoration, will be part of the weeklong activities at AirVenture, “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration,” July 23-29 at Wittman Regional Airport.
Glacier Girl’s appearance comes 20 years after its first trip to Oshkosh, when the Greenland Expedition Society members Pat Epps, Don Brooks, and others brought the P-38’s salvaged parts direct from the ice cap to the 1992 EAA Fly-In Convention in a DC-3. The display became a sensation among aviation enthusiasts and the national media following the unprecedented effort to extract the aircraft after 50 years below the ice.
“Glacier Girl is a draw everywhere it goes not only because flying P-38s are so rare, but the human challenge to its recovery that made this restoration stand above so many others,” said Jim DiMatteo, EAA’s vice president of AirVenture features and attractions. “Twenty years ago, the mere appearance of the rescued parts caused a huge stir at Oshkosh. The pride at seeing the airplane fly at Oshkosh is not diminished two decades later.”
The project began in 1981 when Epps and Richard Taylor organized the initial Greenland Expedition Society. It finally gained success 11 years later, when the late Roy Shoffner was a major contributor to the project. That 13th rescue effort included digging through 268 feet of ice and pulling the airplane piece-by-piece to the surface, reclaiming the only survivor of the six P-38s and two B-17s abandoned during a 1942 trans-Atlantic ferry flight.
The airplane finally flew again in October 2002 and has been at Oshkosh on a regular basis since 2003. It is now the crown jewel of the Lewis Air Legends collection based in San Antonio, Texas, and owned by aviation enthusiast Rod Lewis. It is regarded as one of the finest warbird restorations flying anywhere in the world. Lewis is also planning to bring a classic P-39 and P-40 to AirVenture 2012 as part of what is the world’s largest annual warbird aircraft reunion, with nearly 400 aircraft attending.
Bob Cardin, who was the project manager during the 1992 rescue effort and later directed the airplane restoration, will describe the challenges and triumphs for the Greenland Expedition Society during presentations throughout AirVenture week.
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