Fly with Middlesboro history

Published 10:32 am Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A piece of American history, World War II history, aviation history and finally, Middlesboro history, is now on display at the Aviation Museum of Kentucky from now through the end June.

The exhibit is meant to highlight the twin-boom design aircraft that flew during World War II. According to the official press release, a twin-boom aircraft is recognizable through its unique and atypical design of two structures that extend from the wings and connect at the tail. This design was used for over 100 years in aviation.

One of the aircraft on display is the famed Glacier Girl, a P-38 Lockheed Lightning, that was recovered in Greenland and restored in Middlesboro.

The history of Glacier Girl is long and involved. An article published at wkyt.com succinctly illustrated the basics of the story. During WWII when the American military was coming into Great Britain, six Lockheed P-38 Lightnings were forced into an emergency landing in Greenland due to adverse weather. The P-38 planes were also accompanied by two B-17 Bombers. After nine days, the crews were rescued, all unharmed. The aircraft, later dubbed The Lost Squadron, were trapped under ice that only built thicker over the decades.

The Greenland Expedition Society was formed to find and dig out the Lost Squadron. Seven trips over 11 years yielded the hoped-for results. In 1992, a Middlesboro man, Roy Shoffner, led the expedition that unearthed Glacier Girl.

Through painstaking planning and labor that used equipment such as water cannons to melt the ice, she was successfully excavated, dismantled and shipped to Middlesboro for meticulous reconstruction by Shoffner’s team. In 2002, the plane was fully restored and went airborne again for the first time since making that emergency landing in Greenland in 1942. She took off from the Middlesboro Airport.

Anyone can go and see this piece of WWII, American and Middlesboro history right now at the Aviation Museum in Lexington. For more information, visit www.aviationky.org, or call 859-231-1219.