NASA Spots Wreckage Of Cold-War Era B-29 On Greenland Icesheet

During a secret Cold War spying mission in 1947, a B-29 Superfortress made an emergency landing in northwest Greenland. It lay there undisturbed until 1994 when a botched mission to repair and return it failed. NASA recently caught a glimpse of its charred remains.

The plane, named the Kee Bird, was en route to the North Pole when it encountered rough weather and other issues that forced it to the ground. The entire crew of 11 survived, but they had to wait more than three days to be rescued.

NASA Spots Wreckage Of Cold-War Era B-29 On Greenland Icesheet

The aerial photo was captured on May 1st, 2014 by the Digital Mapping System (DMS), an instrument attached to NASA's P-3 Orion airplane for the Operation IceBridge campaign.

In 1994, a private group of airplane and history aficionados attempted to restore and fly the plane — only to have it catch fire in the process. The wreck is still there today, where it's slowly being covered by wind-blown snow and ice.

NASA Spots Wreckage Of Cold-War Era B-29 On Greenland Icesheet

The Kee Bird on the day it crashed (United States Air Force - United States Air Force Photo via 46th/72nd Recon Association Website, History CD - Disk-D, B-29 Crashes).

NASA Spots Wreckage Of Cold-War Era B-29 On Greenland Icesheet

Kee Bird crash site, February 1947 (United States Air Force - United States Air Force Photo via 46th/72nd Recon Association Website, History CD - Disk-D, B-29 Crashes).

The aerial photo was captured by the Digital Mapping System (DMS), an instrument attached to NASA's P-3 Orion airplane for the Operation IceBridge campaign.

NASA Spots Wreckage Of Cold-War Era B-29 On Greenland Icesheet

The plane on fire during the attempted recovery. From Wikipedia:

As Darryl Greenamyer was taxiing the aircraft onto the frozen lake, the B-29's auxiliary power unit's jury-rigged fuel tank began to leak gasoline into the rear fuselage. Fire broke out and quickly spread to the rest of the aircraft. The cockpit crew escaped unharmed but cook/mechanic, Bob Vanderveen, who was visually monitoring the engines from the rear of the aircraft, suffered smoke inhalation and flash burns.

Another image, this one captured by NASA in 2013, shows another angle, along with the shadow of the P-3 research plane that took it.

NASA Spots Wreckage Of Cold-War Era B-29 On Greenland Icesheet

NASA photographs courtesy of IceBridge Digital Mapping System (top) and Michael Studinger, NASA GSFC (lower). Caption by Mike Carlowicz.