‘Almost Perfectly Preserved’ WWII Fighter Discovered in Sahara Desert — 70 Years After Disappearing
It’s not quite the same as the opening sequence to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” but it’s awfully close.
The Daily Mail reports that a Polish oil company worker, Jakub Perka, has discovered an “almost perfectly preserved” Kittyhawk P-40 that crash-landed in the Sahara Desert in 1942.
“Despite the crash impact, most of the aircraft’s cockpit instruments are intact,” according to the report.
“He must have survived the crash because one photo shows a parachute around the frame of the plane and my guess is the poor bloke used it to shelter from the sun,” British historian Andy Saunders. “The radio and batteries were out of the plane and it looks like he tried to get it working.”
“Once he had crashed there nobody was going to come and get him,” Saunders said. “It is more likely he tried to walk out of the desert but ended up walking to his death. It is too hideous to contemplate.”
The RAF Museum plans to retrieve the aircraft for historical display.
“The aviation historical world is hugely excited about this discovery,” Saunder said. “This plane has been lying in the same spot where it crashed 70 years ago. It hasn’t been hidden or buried in the sand, it has just sat there.”
“It is a quite incredible time capsule, the aviation equivalent of Tutankhamun’s Tomb,” he added.
However, British authorities believe they are in a race against time. They fear the locals will strip the recently discovered aircraft of parts and equipment. In fact, according to the Daily Mail, the plane’s guns and ammunition (which were perfectly preserved) have already been seized by the Egyptian military for “safety reasons.”
“The plane is in a very good condition but sadly it is being stripped by some locals who don’t regard it as part of their heritage but as a piece of junk that may have some scrap value,” Saunders said.
“Things are happening very slowly with the recovery, mainly because we are in the hands of the Egyptian authorities,” he added.
“The MoD needs to act and get the plane out of there as soon as possible rather than embarking upon a great deal of hand-wringing and meetings to discuss its future.”
“It would appear the pilot got into trouble and just brought it down in the middle of the desert,” Saunders said.
The Daily Mail gives a little more background on the nature of Copping’s role in the RAF and what might have led to the crash:
In 1942 he was a member of the RAF’s 260 Squadron, a fighter unit based in Egypt during the North Africa campaign.
By June of that year the Allies were retreating from ‘Desert Fox’ Erwin Rommel and his German forces.
On June 28 Ft Sgt Copping and another airman were tasked with flying two damaged Kittyhawk P-40 planes from one British airbase in northern Egypt to another for repair.
During the short flight Ft Sgt Copping lost his bearings, went off course and was never seen again.
It was documented at the time that there was a fault with its front landing gear which would not retract and the photographic evidence suggests the aircraft had its front wheel down when it crashed.
There is also flak damage in the fuselage, which is also consistent with documented evidence of Ft Sgt Copping’s plane.
The report adds that a search will be launched to find the lost airman’s remains.
“The pilot isn’t in the plane but there is evidence to suggest he got out,” Captain Paul Collins, the British defence attache to Egypt, said, “it is extremely unlikely that we will find any remains.”
It’s believed Cooping doesn’t have any immediate family members left in the UK
All photos courtesy Jakub Perka/BNPS
- John McCain Lectures Tea Party Senator on How ‘Business’ Gets Done in Congress: ‘That’s What We’ve Been Doing for a Couple Hundred Years’ 554 Comments
- Boy Scouts of America Vote to Allow Gay Members 504 Comments
- Pope Francis’ Sermon Sparks Debate: ‘Even the Atheists’ Have Been Redeemed ‘With the Blood of Christ’ 478 Comments
- Piers Morgan Bans Dana Loesch From His Show Following Twitter Spat: ‘Show Some Bloody Respect’ 333 Comments
- Obama Doesn’t Return Marine’s Salute, Shakes Hand Instead — Is This a Protocol Misstep? 329 Comments
- Game-Changing Bombshell? There’s a Major Twist in the Story About a High School Student’s Lesbian Relationship With a Minor 215 Comments
- Is the Boy Scouts’ Gay Amendment the ‘Beginning of the End’ for the Group? (Plus: Tell Us Where You Stand) 228 Comments
- MSNBC Hosts Martin Bashir and Chris Hayes Claim London Machete Killers Aren’t Terrorists: ‘These Are Just Murderers’ 141 Comments
- Did You Catch the Possibly Policy-Changing Ft. Hood Reference in Obama’s Terror Speech? Read More
- Dem. Rep. Apologizes for Attending ‘Racist, Anti-Semitic and Homophobic’ Speech Read More
- Have You Had Scotch at a NJ TGI Friday’s Lately? You Might Have Been Drinking Rubbing Alcohol Read More
- Venezuelan President Blames Toilet Paper Shortage on the Rich Read More
- This Terrible Chart Shows the Change in Food Stamp Participation Over the Last 10 Years Read More
- Disney Makes Absolutely Mortifying Photoshop Mistake Read More
- Trey Gowdy at It Again — This Time with a Jack Bauer Reference! 117 Comments
- Lion Named ‘Bonedigger’ and Small Dog Make Most Unlikely Companions Read More
- Rocket Bike Sets Land Speed Record — and Uses a Fuel You Wouldn’t Expect Read More
- How 3D Printing Technology Created a Special Part for Baby’s Windpipe and Saved His Life Read More
- 6 Fascinating Spy Gadgets You’ll Probably Want (and Can Have) After Seeing Read More
- How Would a 3D-Printed Shotgun Slug Hold Up? Here’s the Test Read More
- Ex-Guatemala president extradited to US
- Calif. plastic ocean debris bill dies in committee
- No bail for Pa. parents in faith-healing death
- Rare Superman comic found in house insulation
- Grizzlies, Memphis ready to 'believe' vs Spurs
- Schumer urges look at security in Sprint deal
- IMF chief named key witness in French payoff case
- Furlough Friday: Unpaid day off for many in gov't