Kee Bird

The Kee Bird was an American B-29 bomber that became marooned after making an emergency landing in northwest Greenland during a secret Cold War spy mission in 1947. Although the entire crew was safely evacuated after spending three arduous days on the isolated Arctic tundra, the aircraft itself was left at the landing site. The aircraft spent nearly half a century undisturbed until a privately funded mission was launched in 1994 to repair the Kee Bird and fly it back to civilization. After months of painstaking work on the aircraft and a series of setbacks, including the death of the mission's chief engineer, the repairs were completed and the aircraft prepared to take off from a frozen lake. As the aircraft was taxiing to takeoff position, however, a fire broke out inside the rear fuselage and the entire plane was engulfed in flames. The wreckage of the Kee Bird now rests at the bottom of a lake in the Arctic Circle. The attempted restoration of the Kee Bird was documented in the television documentary, "B-29 Frozen in Time" (1997), an episode of the series NOVA.

The 1947 Crew

The flightcrew for the Kee Bird's final Cold War spy mission included:

Vern Arnett, Pilot
Russel S. Jordan, Copilot
Talbert Gates, Copilot
John G. Lesman, Astro Navigator
Burl Cowan, D.R. Navigator
Robert "Lucky" Luedke, Flight Engineer
Howard Adams, Radar Observer
Lawrence Yarborough, Gunner
Ernie Stewart, Gunner
Paul McNamara, Gunner
Robert "Bucky" Leader, Radio Operator

Restoration Team

The 1994 Restoration Team consisted of the following personnel:

Daryl Greenamyer, Project Captain/Pilot
Rick Kriege, Chief Engineer
Cecilio Grande, Engineer's helper
Vernon Rich, Toolmaker/Machinist
Roger Von Grote, Supply shuttle pilot
Bob Vanderveen, Cook

Restoration Mission Summary

In 1994, operating as Kee Bird Limited Liability Co., a team of aircraft restorers was led by Daryl Greenamyer to the emergency landing site. Using a 1962 De Havilland Caribou as a shuttle plane, the team departed the U.S. armed services base at Thule, Greenland and flew in tools and equipment to the Kee Bird. Over the summer months, the team transported four remanufactured engines, four new propellors, an engine hoist, and a bulldozer to the remote site. The team successfully replaced the engines and propellors, and resurfaced the aircraft's control surfaces. As the winter snows began to fall, the Chief Engineer, Rick Kriege fell ill and was transported to a hospital in Canada where he died from a blood clot after two weeks. Although the plane was nearly ready to fly, Greenamyer's team was compelled by weather to leave the site.

In May 1995, Greenamyer returned with additional personnel. As he was taxiing the Kee Bird to a frozen lake he planned to use as a runway, an auxiliary power unit's jury-rigged fuel tank came loose and a fire broke out in the rear fuselage. The entire crew escaped unharmed, but the aircraft was completely destroyed. When the lake thawed in the spring, the wreckage sank to the bottom.

See Also

Glacier Girl P-38 Lighting that was rescued from the ice cap in Greenland

External links

Type Strategic bomber
Manufacturer Boeing
Maiden flight September 21, 1942
Introduced May 8, 1944
Primary users United States Army Air Forces
Royal Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Produced 1943 – 1945

..... Click the link for more information.
Arctic Circle is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. It is the parallel of latitude that (as of 2000) runs 66° 33′ 39″ (or 66.56083°) north of the Equator.
..... Click the link for more information.
Nova is a popular science television series from the USA produced by WGBH Boston. It can be seen on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States, and in more than 100 other countries.
..... Click the link for more information.
Darryl Greenamyer is an American aviator with many accomplishments. He started his flying career in the reserves. He then started work with Kelly Johnson at Lockheed where he eventually became an SR-71 test pilot at Skunk works/Area 51.
..... Click the link for more information.
Type STOL Transport
Manufacturer de Havilland Canada
Maiden flight 30 July 1958
Introduced 1961
Primary users United States Army
Royal Australian Air Force

The de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou
..... Click the link for more information.
"Glacier Girl" is a Lockheed P-38 Lightning World War II fighter plane that was recently restored to operable condition after being buried beneath ice on a remote Greenland ice cap for close to fifty years.
..... Click the link for more information.
Nova is a popular science television series from the USA produced by WGBH Boston. It can be seen on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States, and in more than 100 other countries.
..... Click the link for more information.


This article is copied from an article on Wikipedia.org - the free encyclopedia created and edited by online user community. The text was not checked or edited by anyone on our staff. Although the vast majority of the wikipedia encyclopedia articles provide accurate and timely information please do not assume the accuracy of any particular article. This article is distributed under the terms of GNU Free Documentation License.