P-38 Glacier Girl and Operation Bolero II

Warbird fans …

A restored P-38 Lightning recoverd in 1992 from beneath 200+ ft. of ice and restored over a 10 year process, has begun a trip to complete the original Operation Bolero mission she was on in July 1942 when weather forced an emergency landing on the ice in Greenland where she was abandoned. The P-38, named Glacier Girl after the recovery, leaves Teterboro today (6/22/07) to begin retracing the Bolero path and successfully traverse the Atlantic for an arrival in Duxford, England.

Progress of the mission (that also includes a TF-51 Mustang) may be followed at AirShowBuzz.com and their related forums.

I hadn’t heard anything about this. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Pat Epps numerous times when stopping at his FBO at Atlanta’s PDK airport. I even bought a copy of the book, The Lost Squadron and he was nice enough to sign it for me. He also included a lot of documentation and newpaper reprints chronicling the subsequent legal battles after the airplane was brought up. Pat seems to have been forgotten in the history of Glacier Girl lately which is quite sad since he was a major part of the whole operation to find and recover the planes.

Yes, this will be one of the ultimate “modern day” warbird adventures. Glacier Girl was based in Middlesboro, KY (1A6) [which is also my home] after the recovery from Greenland in 1992. The restoration (the craft is now an amazing flying “artifact”) took ten years before its first flight in October 2002. Warbird pilot Steve Hinton has had the honor to fly the Girl since then (including Operation Bolero II). The efforts made by Pat Epps and his crews in locating The Lost Squadron are not often mentioned but they are not forgotten. I’m aware that (apparently) as a result of legal battles following the recovery, there was a good deal of tension between Epps and Roy Shoffner, the Middlesboro-based pilot and business entrepreneur who financed the restoration. For Roy, Glacier Girl’s restoration, return to flight, and ultimate completion of the Bolero mission was a vision he had 15 years ago. Sadly, he died in 2005 before he could witness this ultimate adventure.

Following a recent transfer from the Shoffner family, the warbird is now owned by Rod Lewis and Lewis Aeronautical of San Antonio, TX. Rod is deeply committed to the Bolero II mission and to continue to fly the plane in airshows for all to witness.

Glacier Girl departed 1A6 for TEB yesterday (06/21/07) for what may have been its last Middlesboro visit. The Middlesboro community will deeply miss the plane and all that it represents.

89YO Brad McManus, the only surviving member of the “lost squadron”, will accompany the Glacier Girl for a small portion of the trip with local pilot and aviation enthusiast Jim Beasley Jr.

philly.com/inquirer/home_top … sion_.html

Not shown on FA as departed KTEB - perhaps they are VFR to Goose ? :open_mouth:

(An aside - while querying the US register for GG’s registration, it seems the US Customs has two P-38s for interdiction duties :open_mouth: :open_mouth: . No, they are P3-B Orions, but I guess the data entry clerk didn’t know the difference. :unamused: )

I just came across this extremely impressive video of Glacier Girl at AirShowBuzz.com.

Actually, the mission may be tracked at this site. Glacier Girl has arrived at Presque Isle, ME (PQI). Special tracking equipment has been installed in an accompanying warbird (TF-51 Mustang - “Miss Velma”) to provide a variety of special communications capabilites to involve everyone interested in its progress. If you’re interested, please take a look at www.AirShowBuzz.com for all the details.

…and the entire mission should be VFR.

Duh! Otherwise the Germans can track the flight and shoot her down again.

Actually, they ran out of fuel after encountering severe headwinds and all the P-38s were virgins. (Never heard a shot fired in anger.)

Unbelievable. That is all I can think to say. Unbelievable!

Yep, there is quite a story unfolding here.

Today’s planned advance to Frobisher Bay was scrubbed due to weather.

Mission legs as of 6/25/07 -

1A6 - KTEB Middlesboro to Teterboro on 06/21/07
KTEB - KPQI Teterboro to Presque Isle on 06/22/07
KPQI - CYYR Presque Isle to Goose Bay on 06/24/07
CYYR - CYFB Goose Bay to Frobisher Bay [Iqaluit] (scheduled)
CYFB - BGSF Frobisher Bay [Iqaluit] to Sondre Stromfjord (scheduled)
BGSF - BGKK Sondre Stromfjord to Kulusuk (scheduled)
BGKK - BIRK Kulusuk to Reykjavik (scheduled)
BIRK - EGPO Reykjavik to Stornoway (scheduled)
EGPO - EGSU Stornoway to Duxford (scheduled)

Go to Great Circle Mapper for a map of the above route.

Is that the leg she had a problem on last time?

The Bolero leg attempted by The Lost Squadron on July 15, 1942, was Bluie West 8 [BW-8] to Reykjavik. BW-8 would be the equivalent of Sondre Stromfjord. There were a variety of bases that were used in Operation Bolero during the movement of planes in World War II. The modern day Bolero 2 mission is delivering Glacier Girl to England using a combination of legs that does not match the ones used by 1st Fighter Group, 94th Squadron, B Flight in July 1942.

It is my understanding that B Flight arrived at BW-8 via Bluie West 1 (BW-1 near Narsarsuak, Greenland) and Goose Bay.

The Goose Bay to Frobisher Bay leg (which will be attempted again on 06/26/07 - weather permitting) was not used by The Lost Squadron.

When The Lost Squadron encountered weather approaching Iceland on July 15, 1942, they began a return to BW-8. Later they learned that BW-8 was closed with 1000’ ceiling an 1/8 mile visibility. B Flight then attempted to reach BW-1 but ran out of fuel after 8 1/2 hours. 2 B-17s and 6 P-38s performed emergency landings on a Greenland icecap. The crews were rescued (no casualties or severe injuries) about a week later. However, the planes were abandoned except for a mission to retrieve the then top-secret B-17 Norden bomb sights.

Edit – Here’s a link to an ABC News video that does a decent job of telling this story.

Weather this morning (06/26/07) has forced a route change. Rather than -

CYYR - CYFB Goose Bay to Frobisher Bay [Iqaluit]
CYFB - BGSF Frobisher Bay [Iqaluit] to Sondre Stromfjord
BGSF - BGKK Sondre Stromfjord to Kulusuk

… the route to Kulusuk has been changed to -

CYYR - BGBW Goose Bay to Narsarsuak (scheduled at 1300z 06/26/07)
BGBW - BGKK Narsarsuak to Kulusuk (scheduled)

The revised route for the mission now looks like this.

Interestingly, this is a little closer to the routing used by The Lost Squadron 65 years ago.

If all goes well, the intentions are to fly both legs from Goose Bay to Kulusuk (via Narsarsuak) today (06/26/07).

After a series of mechanical delays to both Glacier Girl and the P-51 Mustang (TF-51 “Miss Velma”) out of Goose Bay, the Bolero II mission for the P-38 has ended for now. Today’s (06/28/07) mechanical problem forced Glacier Girl to return to Goose Bay after a departure for Narsarsuak this morning. Coolant pop-off with the starboard engine was the symptom and after reviewing the problem when the plane was back in the hangar, a decision was made to end the Girl’s Bolero mission attempt for now. No other details of the underlying mechanical problem were immediately released.

Miss Velma is continuing the Bolero mission route and is still expected at Duxford, England in time for the Flying Legends airshow on July 7 and 8.

Edit - Glacier Girl will need a new starboard Allison engine. She will remain in Goose Bay until the replacement is complete. No plans for her future movement have been announced.

I asked Pat Epps yesterday what he thought of Operation Bolero. He said it was “good”. He said he was glad that they were able to attempt the mission and of course was hoping that they were successful.

Glacier Girl is expected to arrive at Oshkosh this week. Following engine repairs (a decision was made to replace both engines) at Goose Bay and logging a comfortable number of hours on the new power plants, Glacier Girl flew to Presque Isle, ME today (07/23/07) and was reported on her way to Cleveland at about 3PM EDT. Weather permitting, the P-38 should make it to Oshkosh sometime Tuesday.

Presently, there are no immediate plans to complete a Bolero mission during 2007.

For everyone headed to Oshkosh this year, enjoy … and keep your eye on Glacier Girl.