Ice Cap Recovery of Aircraft 57-492 – Page 2




In addition, it caused the number one propeller to contact the snow and cause a sudden engine stoppage.  Further investigation showed that the left wheel well structure had received major damage when the landing gear was torn loose from the aircraft.


From the very first, the crew members had insisted that the problem had been caused by the landing in soft snow; however, I felt that the only way it could have happened was for the aircraft to have touched down in a crab position.  To avoid conflict, I went along with their reasoning.  A year later, members of the flight crew admitted that the aircraft had landed in a crab. Their earlier explanation was obviously intended to shield the pilot who was an exchange pilot from another country.


Following our investigation, the members of the investigation team met in a conference room with Colonel Kenneth E. Bethe, President of the Accident Investigation Board, to discuss the accident and possible repair of the aircraft.  From the very first, there was a pessimistic attitude.  One of the members said that he didn’t believe that the aircraft could be repaired and that we should salvage the useable parts.  Another man stood up and said that if the aircraft were repaired, it would take at least six months.  Not willing to continue this pessimism, I stood up and said, “B--- S---, I can have that plane ready to fly in six weeks”.  Colonel Bethe immediately responded, “You’ve got it.”  I then added that I would do it if I were given the men and equipment that I needed and this was okayed.


I became quite busy and made up a list of personnel, some by name, a list of repair parts and a list of equipment that I thought that we would need.  The lists were dispatched to Elmendorf and action was quickly underway.  Within two days the men and most of the requested parts and equipment was on its way.  Another aircraft was sent to a parts depot in the “South 48” to pick up the necessary parts that were not readily available at Elmendorf or Sondrestrom.  Sondrestrom supplied us with several items of equipment, including a Trackmaster for mobility purposes.  With most of the needed items available, we departed for Dye II, where we were to remain until the aircraft was in a flyable condition.  Arrangements had been made with the Dye Site Commander to provide food and living quarters for the repair team, so we were ready for the long stay.


When we started work on the aircraft, the temperature was ten below zero and the wind was blowing at ten knots directly on the nose of the aircraft. 







Photograph courtesy of




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