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calendar   Thursday - May 10, 2012

Frozen in the sands of time: Plane of Second World War discovered in the Sahara desert

Doesn’t need words. The photos at the link, lots of em, tell the tale. Sad end to a young life.

Frozen in the sands of time: Plane of Second World War pilot discovered in the Sahara desert… 70 years after it crashed

Pilot of the Kittyhawk P-40 was thought to have survived crash, but died trying to walk out of the desert
Aircraft was found almost perfectly preserved, unseen and untouched, after it came down in 1942
Historian describes find as ‘an incredible time capsule’ and ‘the aviation equivalent of Tutankhamun’s Tomb’

By KERRY MCQUEENEY

A Second World War plane crashed by a British pilot in the Sahara desert, before he walked off to his death, has been found frozen in time 70 years later.

Unseen and untouched, the Kittyhawk P-40 has been described as an aviation ‘time capsule’ after it was found almost perfectly preserved in the sands of the western desert in Egypt.

After coming down in June 1942, the pilot is thought to have survived the crash and initially used his parachute for shelter before making a desperate and futile attempt to reach civilisation by walking out of the desert.
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The RAF airman - believed to have been Flight Sergeant Dennis Copping, 24 - was never seen again. The crash site is about 200 miles from the nearest town.

The single-seater fighter plane was discovered by chance by Polish oil company worker Jakub Perka, who was exploring a remote region.

Despite the crash impact, most of the aircraft’s cockpit instruments are intact. Its guns and ammunition were also still intact before being seized by the Egyptian military for safety reasons.

There are also signs of the makeshift camp made by the pilot alongside the fuselage.

However there are fears over what will be left of it after locals began stripping parts and instruments from the cockpit for souvenirs and scrap.

Historians are now urging the British government to step in and have the scene declared as a war grave so it can be protected before the plane is recovered.

Historian Andy Saunders, from Hastings, East Sussex, said: ‘The aviation historical world is hugely excited about this discovery.

‘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.

‘It is hundreds of miles from anywhere and there is no reason why anyone would go there.

‘It would appear the pilot got into trouble and just brought it down in the middle of the desert.

‘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.

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No human remains have been found but it is thought the pilot’s decomposed body may lay anywhere in a 20-mile radius of the plane.

The RAF Museum at Hendon, north London, has been made aware of the discovery and plans are underway to recover the aircraft and display it in the future.

A search will also be launched in the slim hope of finding the lost airman.

The defence attache at the British embassy in Cairo is due to visit the scene in order to officially confirm its discovery and serial number.

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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 05/10/2012 at 01:59 PM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesWar-Stories •  
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