They Found This Pearl Harbor Plane Hidden In The Jungle, Then They Looked Inside
If you want to hide something you just have to toss it in the swamp and it will stay hidden for decades. At least if you believe movies and local legends. But, what to do when stories turn out to be true? Our hero sat at the bottom of a swamp for decades until it was discovered by accident.
As it turned out, our hero played a major role in world history and the world was fascinated by this discovery. Moreover, locals couldn’t believe that their holy relic has such a big meaning for others as well. The swamp ghost intrigued the world, but just two men decided to meet this swamp monster in person. What they discovered was more than just a local story about a gigantic swamp ghost. Read on!
30. A Bizzare View
It’s just amazing what you can see from the clouds. Actually, you can see whole cities, great nature, and moreover, you can see strange things that you couldn’t be seen otherwise.
From time to time you get to see much more than you hoped for when you are flying. Sometimes you get to see a glimpse of hidden. And no one knows this better than the crew from the Royal Australian Air Force.
29. Not An Average Flight
The year 1972 was a big one was the Royal Australian Air Force. That’s the year when the whole world heard about them and their swamp discovery.
Every flight seemed identical until one day this crew noticed something unusual. This is how the first step toward the swamp ghost was made.
28. A Strange Sight
The Royal Australian Air Force had a whole day planned. They had to do a routine flight across a remote part of Papua New Guinea. At the time, Papua New Guinea was a part of the Australian Commonwealth.
That day started like any other and it seemed that everything goes as planned. Although it seemed like that, something happened that changed everything.
27. There Was Something Unusual In The Swamp
One view can change so much, especially when you are above the swamps. That is how this routine day for Air Force became historically significant.
When the crew first saw it in the swamp they weren’t sure what they were looking at. At first glance, it looked like any other forested area of Papua New Guinea. Then, after green scenery, they saw something that wasn’t either green or natural.
26. The Swamp Had A Secret
After miles of green bushes, they saw something different. It was clear that there was definitely something that wasn’t born in the swamp.
After miles of green bushes, they saw something strange, but they had no idea what it was. However, it looked like something white and strangely shaped.
25. A Strange Object
They saw something odd and decided to take an extra look to see what it was. So, they flew in closer and learn what’s hidden among trees and greenery.
Once they got closer, they learned that the object was halfway submerged under the water. At that moment they realized that the area where they were standing was somewhat swampland.
24. The Swamps Of Papua New Guinea
Simply said, swamps of Papua New Guinea are full of wild and dangerous animals. Moreover, alligators are frequent appearances. Basically, verifying anything in the swamp is difficult.
Although it was dangerous to go through the swamp and dive in to learn more about the object, two men decided that they have to discover what was hidden in the swamp.
23. Exploring The Object
David Tallichet and Fred Hagen insisted on the expedition because they knew that the object was something valuable and historically important. Not everyone knew what they knew about the area.
Little was known, but Papua New Guinea was actually a hot spot during WWII and an important place of battle for the South West Pacific. David and Fred knew that there were treasures just waiting to be discovered.
22. The Real War Tourism
Once WWII ended, visitors came to the island in the hope to find the war wreckage. In no time, war tourism became a thing. Moreover, people started exploring Papua New Guinea.
The tourists loved exploring war bases that were left by Japanese, American, and Australian army. So, once the Australia Air Force spotted something, David and Fred were ready to dive in and learn what the object was. And no one could stop them.
21. An Expedition
Fred and David were professionals with old war relics and restoring them into a new and even better condition. So, they made a team of locals, had the right equipment on, and started their expedition.
In no time, the mission was on and they headed out to discover what the monster in the swamp actually was. But they knew one thing for sure – whatever it was, it was there for decades, no doubt.
20. A Brave Mission
This wasn’t an easy mission. After all, they had to go through the wilderness of Papua New Guinea and step into a crocodile-infected swamp. And this team loved every step.
Surprisingly, the hard-to-reach location and the fact that the object was partially submerged in water were factors that contributed to the preservation of the object. No one could believe how well the object was preserved.
19. The Big Discovery
Once the expedition reached its destination, it became instantly clear what the object was. However, no one could believe that it was still in so good shape.
The entire team, and the world soon enough, discovered that the ‘local swamp ghost’ was actually a very large plane. But how long it has been there and from where did it appear from?
18. The Truth Behind The Airplane
Media went crazy when they learned about this discovery. Actually, media coverage was so enormous that people immediately went to see the plane in all its glory. But they still wanted to know how it got there.
Once the plane was inspected it was discovered that it was a plane from the WWII era and that it was a bomber plane. This plane became known as the ‘holy grail’ of military aviation. It was so well-preserved, which made moving it from the swamp more challenging.
17. The Bomber Had To Be Moved
The bomber served as a reminder of the previous time and a long-lasting proof of a major conflict zone and the Japanese empire during the war. However, it had to be moved from the swamp.
The plane was in the swamp. Therefore, it was already impossible to get to, so moving it would be a mission impossible without making enormous damage. But, Dave and Fred knew that have to find a way. After all, they were professionals.
16. The Flying Fortress
It was determined that ‘swamp ghost’ was actually a B-17E Flying Fortress, plane type. Simply said, it was a really big plane. So, David and Fred started their endeavor in the 1980s, but it took them decades to restore the plane to its original appearance.
The plane got a nickname ‘the flying fortress’, thanks to a Seattle Times journalist, from 1935. During the test flight, the journalist told everyone that it reminds him of a flying fortress. So, the name lived.
15. The Japanese Attack
Just one day before the notorious Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 194, the Swamp Ghost was on a special mission. Yes, the plane was located in Papua New Guinea.
The Japanese invaded the township of Rabaul, on the island of Papua New Guinea, meaning that was an end for the Flying Fortress. That day nothing went as planned.
14. A Crash Landing
During the attack, the Swamp Ghost was hit, but the plain didn’t explode. So, the crew tried to make its way back to Port Moresby, New Guineas’ capital city. However, the plane never reached its destination.
The crew had two major problems: a punctured wing and the massive leaking of fuel. So, the pilot had to make a crash landing. What he believed to be a perfect place to make a crash landing, was actually a real tragedy.
13. Middle Of Nowhere
During a flight, the pilot spotted what he believed was a soft wheat field. However, it only appeared to be. The truth was so far from that.
So, what the pilot believed to be a wheat field ended up being a swamp with deadly crocodiles. Strangely, crew members were not seriously injured and the landing was soft.
12. The Crew Survived
Although the entire crew survived, each member caught malaria while they were trying to leave safely the swamp. They meet natives who take them back to their village and nurse them back to health.
The crew reunited with the US forces once they got better. In the city of Port Moresby, they were welcomed and celebrated as heroes. Interestingly, they were immediately sent on a new mission.
11. Lost In The Space And Time
Although the crew members were safe and sent to a new mission, no one cared at the time about the lost plane. Even at that moment, it was clear that Guinea will be the graveyard for numerous planes. From that moment on the plane was known only to locals.
Locals adored the plane and called it the ‘swamp ghost’. It was forgotten by the US forces completely. In addition, there were no efforts to recover the plane. Until 1972.
10. Swamp Ghost In 1972
When the world learned about this plane in 1972, everyone was shocked. The shock was even bigger when Fred and David informed the media how well preserved the plane actually was.
Experts believed that preservation was possible because the plain was partially submerged in water and it was difficult to approach it. However, that didn’t stop locals from turning the plane inside out.
9. Inside The Swamp Ghost
The plane was better preserved outside than inside. Once they stepped inside the plane they saw that all of the weaponry and mechanics had been taken out.
Fred and David were determined to restore this flying fortress. So, they decided to ignore the missing parts and continue with the mission. After all, the Flying Fortress was one of the four other planes of its kind, in the world.
8. Real Battle Scars
The plane was forgotten by everyone for almost seven decades. Moreover, the Flying Fortress was located in the Agaiamboo Swamp for 64 years, exactly. David and Frenk knew that there was much more history here, and the Pacific Aviation Museum in Hawaii explained it.
At the time of discovery, the Flying Fortress was the only unretired WWII-era B-17E bomber. In addition, the bomber was also intact and with real battle scars. But there was more.
7. Best-Loved Plane Ever
Since it’s introduced to the world in 1938, the B-17 was the third-most massively made bomber ever. It was mostly used against German forces in Europe.
Since the B-17 was so massive and strong plane it was used not only against Germans but against the Japanese as well. At the time B-17 was directly responsible for dropping 640,000 tons of bombs. But why this was important to Fred and David?
6. It Was About The Future
President Roosevelt had a vision of the modern US military, so B-17 was a huge part of that dream. The B-17 was a new generation of a bomber capable of carrying more. But B-17 was so much more than that.
Once the WWII was over the majority of the bombers were sent home to the States, while only a few remained in use, mostly for ai-sea rescue.
5. Moving The Bomber From The Swamp
Locals treated the bomber as a real holy relic. They adored it for decades. So, it wasn’t easy to let go of it. This was something that Fred and David didn’t plan.
So, David and Fred had to talk with the villagers and convince them to hand over the bomber. Eventually, they agreed to give the bomber away under one condition.
4. The Last Ceremony
After long talks and many days, the villagers said yes to moving the bomber from the swamp. However, locals wanted to perform a ceremony.
Since the plane spent decades on the holy ground, locals wanted to perform a ceremony to appease the spirits located int he swamp. After that ceremony, the plane was ready to be moved. Then another problem appeared.
3. Son Of A Local Chief
Not everyone was ready to let the bomber go. The son of a local chief was strongly against moving the B-17. He even organized a group of people to help him stop the expedition.
But all of his efforts were not effective. Eventually, the bomber was lifted by a Russian-made military helicopter. Everyone just watched as the bomber was going offshore.
2. Pearl Harbor
The Flying Fortress was moved from Papua New Guinea to viewing in Long Beach California. Who saw the plane first? Relatives of the original crew.
From that day on, the bomber has been on display at the Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor. The B-17 stands as a memorial for a horrific war that took millions of lives.
1. A Full Restoration
Once the plane was safely returned and based in the States the restoration could begin. That was no easy task. The investment was huge also.
The restauration of the plane exceeded $5 million. But for restoring a relic of this sort, $5 million was actually a modest sum. Even today, many of the locals are upset that the plane was moved. The plane attracted a huge number of tourists and by removing the plane their economy was heavily affected.