In Greek mythology, the phoenix was a bird that, after death, rose from its own ashes, ready to fly again. In this article we will share with you the story of the real phoenixes of modern aviation.
1) C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft (Juliet Delta 321) Recovery
On December 4, 1971 C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft, call sign Juliet Delta 321, experienced a malfunction in the rockets used to assist in takeoff and was forced to crash-land on the ice, which caused the collapse of the main landing gear. No injuries were reported, but a salvage operation was deemed too complex and costly and the aircraft was abandoned at the spot (not before it was stripped of all flight instruments, engine gauges, radios and navigational equipment).
It wasn’t until 1986, though, 15 years after the accident, that plans were drawn for the salvage of the aircraft. The recovery work was to be conducted over the Austral summer seasons of 1986/87 and 1987/88. Finally, on January 10, 1988, 16 years and 37 days after it crash landed, Juliet Delta 321 was back in the air. Its first journey was the five-hour leg to McMurdo Station, and from there onwards to New Zealand and the United States.
2) Basler BT-67 (Lidia) Recovery
In 2012, Lidia, a Basler BT-67 carrying tourists hit a snow drift while taking off from Holtanna Glacier and was forced to crash land. There were no casualties among the 15 passengers and crew, but the badly damaged aircraft had to be left right where it was.
A recovery operation was mounted during the next Southern Hemisphere summer season, with a team working nonstop over the course of a month to get Lidia out of the glacier on its own power. Parts and spares were flown in, including new engines and an entirely new cockpit, since the old one had to be cut off the airframe.
Lidia was finally back up in the air in January 2014 and was flown all the way back to Calgary, Canada.
3) P-38 Lightning fighters (Glacier Girl) Recovery
During World War II, a group of eight American aircraft, six P-38 Lightning fighters and two B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, which in July 1942 encountered severe weather and was forced to make an emergency landing on a remote glacier in Greenland. The crews could be rescued, but their aircraft were left to be buried by a mass of snow and ice that over the next few decades would reach around 80 meters in height.
One of the aircraft left stranded in Greenland was “Glacier Girl”, a twin-engine Lightning P-38 fighter. After years of arduous work involving seven different expeditions, it was found by a team led by Atlanta-based entrepreneurs Pat Epps and Richard Taylor. Glacier Girl was finally brought back to the surface in 1992.
It was necessary to dig the ice to a depth of 82 meters (270 feet), where the aircraft was located. A hot water cannon was then used to free the aircraft from the ice, creating a sort of cavern under the ice sheet. The P-38 was then cut in sections and lifted back to the surface, after which it was flown back to the US to be reassembled.
Amazingly, for an aircraft that had spent 50 years under the snow, Glacier Girl could be restored to flying condition. Ten years after being salvaged from Greenland’s ice, it was back in the air.
Article Originally appeared on CNN