The story of the P-38E Lightning “Glacier Girl” will be told through the eyes of Bob Cardin, one of its rescuers and restorers, at EAA’s annual Wright Brothers Memorial Banquet on Friday, Dec. 16. The banquet, held in the Founders’ Wing of the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, will commemorate the 108th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The airplane was originally attached to Operation Bolero, the United States’ troop and materiel buildup in Great Britain in 1942. It, along with five other P-38s and two B-17s, comprised what would come to be known as “The Lost Squadron” when weather forced them to land on the Greenland icecap. The people were eventually evacuated, but the aircraft were left behind. Over the ensuing years, they became buried under 200 feet of ice.
This group of missing aircraft has been sought by warbird collectors ever since the late David Tallichet mounted an expedition looking for them in 1977. Others followed in the 1980s, but were unsuccessful. In 1992, Cardin’s team melted a vertical shaft through more than 200 feet of glacial ice, and used hot water to hollow out an ice room around the now accessible P-38 to begin its disassembly and removal.
Ten years later, the rare, early-model P-38 christened “Glacier Girl” took to the air once again. Several years later, Cardin told an EAA AirVenture audience that “Glacier Girl” has the only complete P-38 armament package, including accessory items, in the world. “When the plane was abandoned there, it became a time capsule,” he explained.
“We are very honored to have Bob Cardin join us as EAA celebrates the anniversary of powered flight,” said Rod Hightower, EAA president/CEO. “By bringing this rare fighter back to life, Bob and his team exhibited the true ‘keep ’em flying’ motto exhibited by warbird owners and restorers everywhere. Hearing the in-depth, first-person accounts on how ‘Glacier Girl’ was brought back to life will make this a special evening.”
According to Cardin, 80% of “Glacier Girl” is original, adding that the airframe sustained crushing damage under the ice that made it not feasible to use more. It has flown with its wartime Allison engines, he said. “Glacier Girl” is currently owned by Lewis Energy Corporation president and avid pilot Rod Lewis.
Following Cardin’s keynote address, attendees can participate in a special question and answer session with Cardin on Glacier Girl’s recovery and restoration.
Tickets are $45 for EAA members and $50 for non-members, and can be reserved online or 920-426-6880. Reception is at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m.