After 72 years, a WW2 veteran escapes from its icy prison
Wings, propellers, tin cans turn up as crashed American Dakota starts to emerge from its glacial time capsule
A World War 2 plane that crash-landed in Switzerland has been uncovered after 72 years, thanks to the recent European heatwave.
The American C-53 Skytrooper, a military transport plane also known as a Dakota, was flying from Tulln in Austria to the Italian city of Pisa on November 18 1946 when a snowstorm forced it to crash-land onto the Gauli Glacier in the Bernese Alps at a speed of about 280km/h.
It is thought that rough weather had led the pilots to take a detour and fly via Munich, Strasbourg and Marseille, rather than cross the Alps.All those on board, eight passengers and four crew members, were rescued five days after the crash by Swiss ski soldiers, who were alerted to the accident by an emergency radio message. However, the plane itself has remained hidden in the glacier, buried under deep layers of snow and ice – until now.
Unusually warm weather in Switzerland has meant experts have for the first time been able to uncover large parts of the aircraft. Among the debris are objects such as wings and propellers, as well as items inside, including tin cans, hangers and spoons.Adriano Boschetti, an archaeologist who works for the Canton of Bern, said Americans had already shown a lot of interest in the historic objects.
A local owner of a nearby mountain hut has been asked to keep watch and make sure parts of the plane are not destroyed or stolen. “The wreck is a great folk tale,” the hut owner said. “We have many visitors coming to us solely for the sake of the Dakota.”Temperatures have risen to more than 35ºC in parts of Switzerland in recent months, as the country has experienced one of the hottest and driest summers since records began in 1864. Temperatures have soared across Europe this summer, with many unusual side-effects. Zoos in France have been giving banana ice cubes to gorillas. In Italy, cows have been producing 15% less milk, owing to the dry grass, while in Germany, gherkin farmers have struggled to reap crops.
Swiss scientists have warned that many glaciers will have disappeared from the Alps by 2050. The Aletsch Glacier, the biggest in the Alps, will almost disappear by the end of the century, they warn.
– © The Daily Telegraph