In the jungles of Papua New Guinea, the impacts of conflict are still evident from World War 2. Some people might not know that Papua New Guinea is actually the scene of one of the deadliest battles in human history.
This is the story of adventurers who took a stroll into the jungles of Papua New Guinea and were shocked at what they found.
World War II is one of, if not the, single deadliest conflict in human history. This war raged from 1939 to 1945, with the United States being pulled into the conflict by Japan in December of 1941 with a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
The United States brought the full force of its massive industry to bear on the fledgling Japanese Empire; however, in 1942, the United States was still relatively new to the fight. They were learning how to manage a military over the vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean. The United States sent a B-17 Flying Fortress, a formidable bomber, on a long bombing run across the Pacific.
The days of GPS would not arise for some time and, in 1942, people had to pilot their planes using maps and compasses. Somehow, the plane ended up running out of fuel over Papua New Guinea. The crew quickly realized this and, at the time, there aren’t exactly airports around on which to land, particularly not in 1942.
At this time, the Japanese Empire controlled much of the Pacific Ocean. They looked around but could not find a friendly place to put the plane down over Papua New Guinea. As a result, they knew the plane was likely going to go down.
The plane slammed into the ground at high speeds; however, the crew did what they could to find a relatively flat area on which to rest the plane. Somehow, the crew was largely unscathed after the landing. They couldn’t seem to figure out why or how none of them were hurt. In many cases, plane crashes end up in a fiery ball of death; however, this didn’t seem to happen this time around.
Somehow, they had managed to put the plane down in a swamp instead of on hard land. For this reason, the impact was softened and the crew was able to survive the initial impact without suffering any major injuries.
The crew took a look around and tried to get their bearings. Many of them were disoriented following the crash landing. They were able to identify some locals on Papua New Guinea who were able to help them figure out where they should go next.
Miraculously, they were able to communicate with these people and started the long trek to find assistance. They probably never thought they would see the plane again. After all, it was just going to become part of the landscape of Papua New Guinea.
For more than three decades, the plane simply sat there. When it comes to Papua New Guinea, this is easy to understand. Many people who search for treasures in these jungles end up facing mosquitoes, predators, diseases, and other threats.
For this reason, the downed B-17 simply sat there for more than thirty years. It had become one with the tropical jungles of Papua New Guinea.
Then, in 1972, all of this changed. Some Australian pilots were conducting a routine military exercise in the 1970s over the island of Papua New Guinea. They noticed that something was sticking out of the swamp.
The plane was still largely intact because it had enjoyed a soft landing in the swamp of Papua New Guinea. As these Australian soldiers took a look around, they could see the tail of the downed American plane from thirty years ago.
The Air Force was happy to figure out what had happened to the famous plane. The locals of Papua New Guinea had actually given the plane a nickname called the Swamp Ghost.
The plane had, in fact, landed in a swamp. Despite running out of gas, the plane was still largely intact. It looked like a B-17. Because it still looked relatively intact the name fit.
Even though the plane needed to stay in Papua New Guinea, there were some people who still wanted to learn more. One gentleman couldn’t just let the plane be. Alfred Hagen was obsessed with aircraft from the World War II era.
As a result, he devoted much of his time to tracking down and learning more about aviation artifacts. When he heard about the aircraft on Papua New Guinea, he decided that he had to learn more. He wanted to see if there was anything that could be salvaged from this plane as well.
Now, this gentleman was not alone in his pursuit of this plane. The also gained the backing of a famous restaurant owner. This entrepreneur also spent his time collecting classic planes. When he heard there was a downed B-17 waiting in the jungle of Papua New Guinea, he knew that he had to learn more about it.
Therefore, he also joined the hunt for the Swamp Ghost. He donated quite a bit of money to the cause and wanted to learn more about the storied history of this great plane. This was only the latest in the long line of planes in which this restaurant owner was interested.
Together, the two teamed up to organize an expedition that was set up to locate this legendary playing. The local authorities did not exactly want to have visitors going through the jungle looking for something that had generated so many tourist dollars for the small country. This country depends on tourist dollars to support the small economy and provide for the local population.
Therefore, they bristled at the thought of people trying to learn more and possibly sees this legendary plane. They had gotten used to having this plane on the island. It had been there for 30 years. They wanted it to stay that way. Therefore, if the team wanted to learn more about this plane, they were going to have to do so on their own.
Next, the team decided to get to work. The airplane had become an important attraction for the island. Therefore, it did not take the team long to figure out where it was located. They simply had to talk to some of the locals and look at some of the pads that have been carved out over time.
As I walked down the path, they quickly ran into the crash site. Shockingly, the plane still looked pretty similar to when it first went down decades ago. The team brought in a group of professionals, including cameramen, to oversee the process of learning more about the famed airplane. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for them to realize this operation was not going to go as smoothly as they had hoped.
While the plane might have looked good on the outside, the swamp and not been kind to it over the years. As I learn more about the plan, they realized it was actually in sorry shape. The swamp was filled with chemicals I had a road at the plant over time. In particular, the metal hole that used to support the plane had to Kayde in the years that had been there.
Furthermore, a lot of the wildlife had turned the plane into their home. Even dedicated explorer is like the two taking a look at this famous airplane wondered if it could be saved. They thought the jungle of the island had finally reclaimed the plane.
They did not give up there. They knew they had to try harder. Therefore, the team decided to stick to its original goal of rescuing the plane. Even though the bomber had to create overtime, they knew it was still going to be very heavy.
Furthermore, they felt like if they lifted the plane up off the ground, it will simply fall apart. This brought them cause for concern. Then, they decided that I need to try something a bit unique. They wondered if there was a way for them to relocate the plane piece by piece.
Over time, the plane has become famous. In many ways, it was called the holy grail of military aviation. Therefore, the team decided to take his professionals and try to cut the plane into pieces. Then, each piece of the plane could be taken out of the jungle piece by piece. Alone, this process is going to take them weeks.
This is going to sink a tremendous amount of time and money into saving a plane that has largely been to K to buy the jungle. While some people might have questioned their dedication, others found an admirable.
Slowly but surely, they cut the famous plane into multiple pieces. They tried to work as quickly as possible. They didn’t want to give others time to interfere with your work. In addition, they also rent a military helicopter from Russia to help transport the pieces of the plane to a barge that was nearby. Then, this bar to carry the pieces to wherever they need to go.
Eventually, the team had cut apart the entire plane into smaller pieces that could be transported individually. This required countless hours but was eventually finished.
Eventually, the team was ready to transport the plane back to the United States. It had cost more than $100,000 to complete the project.
In the eyes of the team, this was a worthy investment. While many people looked at it as a success, others are not as thrilled about it.
The locals were very upset that people were taking away the local treasure. The United States Air Force had already surrendered salvage rights to the plane back in the 1960s. The local Islanders believed that they were the rightful owners of the plant.
After all, the plane had generated countless tourist dollars for them, helping them support the small island country.
People local to the area we’re worried the loss of the plane would deal an irreparable blow to the economy. The people who salvage the plane insist that it wasn’t about the money that could be generated by saving the plane but about the challenge.
The plane belonged to the United States Air Force went on down and it simply was going back to where it belonged.
Furthermore, the plane is now displayed in a museum where plenty of people are able to come and visit. It serves an important purpose as it educates people about World War II.
Furthermore, there are also numerous veterans who like to come by and see the plane for themselves. It brings back memories of the service they provided to their country.
On holiday season, a young boy was discussing World War 2 with his veteran grandfather.
This gentleman decided he wanted to share a story from the past.
This gentleman told a story of a fighter plane from World War 2 that crashed behind the farm of his family in 1944.
The plane was not present in the field, which was being used for farming at the time.
The boy recalled the story of his grandfather and he believed that some of the stories from his grandfather were true while others were not.
He doesn’t recall seeing any metal to back up the story. Just cattle.
As far as the boy knew, the story was just that- a story. Teachers eventually gave his son homework to research World War 2.
The man joked with his son to go and check out the plane that supposedly crashed in the field. Because the project involved his own family, the boy was excited. He jumped into it wholeheartedly.
Therefore, the son decided to grab his metal detector. He and his dad went out there. They were hoping to find something they could show at school.
When the duo was about to turn around and head back, the metal detector picked something up. There was something underneath the boggy ground behind the house.
The family started digging with spades first. Then, they asked a friend to borrow an excavator. They had to dig down five yards to make the discovery.
The excavator started to make a lot of headway. They pulled out mounds of dirt and discovered metal mixed in with the dirt piles. Some pieces of metal were big while others were small.
The family believes that together they collected thousands of pieces of metal. They found that the metal belonged to the cockpit of the plane. They knew they were on to something and kept digging.
The family decided they needed to keep digging. They uncovered a motor. It turns out the motor belongs to a German fighter, the BF 109. This was a feared plane. They decided to keep digging.
The family found clothes that belonged to a pilot. They even discovered personal things, such as a bible. Finally, they even uncovered the bones of a dead pilot.
The family knew that they needed the help of experts at this point. They contacted the authorities who continued the work and tried to identify the pilot.
The experts continued to dig. They eventually found the service record of the pilot. Even though this was degraded, there was enough there to read his name.
The pilot was only 19 years old at the time. He was from Lithuania and flew for the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force. They also found food stamps and Danish coins.
The wreckage was the pilot’s resting place for 70 years. They decided to return him home for burial. Clearly, the school project had quickly evolved into something more.
The wreckage of the plane, along with the pilot’s belongings, was sent to a museum. There, it is on display to educate everyone who comes to see it.
Of course, the student earned an A+ on his project. He had clearly gone above and beyond the instructions of the assignment.
The student was also given the day off from school. He got to watch the authorities work and was even interviewed by a local TV station.
Cleary, the grandfather was not just telling a tall story. This is a reminder that everyone should listen to the stories of our elders while they are still alive. Their wisdom can be a powerful source of guidance.