Saturday, 31 Oct 2020

World War 2 bomber emerges from glacier as climate change causes ice to retreat

The wreckage of a US Air Force B-17 bomber has been exposed by retreating glaciers in Iceland.

Climate change has shrunk the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in southern Iceland, revealing the Second World War bomber that crashed in 1944.

All of the warplane’s 10 crew members survived the crash which was caused by bad weather as the bomber was en route to England after refuelling at Keflavik Airport.

Over time, the glacier has melted, showing the a scattered trail of aircraft wreckage. Many of the plane's components remain easily recognisable to the eye, and the site has begun to resemble a scrapyard.

However, the former mayor of Isafjorour, Guomundur Gunnarsson, is on eof a number of locals who see the wreck as a tourist attraction and have resisted attempts to clean it up.

An experienced hiker, Gunnarsson said: “Ever since I heard about the wreck, I’ve been restless. I found the story compelling, and once I told my friends about it, they became restless too.”

They hiked to the American wreck last week to inspect the area and take photos which were later shared on social media.

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In 1996, the US Air Force declassified the full details behind the 1944 crash.

Weather conditions were poor over Iceland when the bomber refuelled part way though its journey to England to take part in the battle against Hitler, and the plane was caught in a down-draft before crashing into the ice cap.

Fortunately, the plane landed on soft snow and kept sliding along its fuselage until coming to an abrupt stop in a snow bank.

One of the plane’s wings was ripped off and the engines caught fire.

Some crew members were thrown into the snow through tears in the fuselage while those left on board managed to escape the plane before it caught ablaze.

The American servicemen had no idea where they were and unable to send an SOS.

They decided to leave the glacier after two days and headed into a valley where they were helped by farmers in the area of Fljotshlio.

Over the following few weeks, the US authorities carried out two expeditions to the glacier.

The first made it to the plane wreck and managed to retrieve some items from it. However, the second group had to turn back without reaching the site.

Over time, the glacier swallowed the plane, but it is now slowly coming back to view due to melting caused by global warming.

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