Updated Story (Wednesday, June 27 5:00 pm)
There’s an update on the vintage plane wreckage retrieved from Colony Glacier this month. Futher details released today (Wednesday) indicate that the wreckage is that of a Korean War era plane.
Investigators say the plane has been positively correlated to the U.S. Air Force C-124 Globemaster aircraft that crashed in 1952.
Captain Jamie Dobson is a public affairs officer with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, which conducted the investigation:
“and that had 52 passengers on board.”
Dobson says the crash was well documented at the time.
“One of the most prominent theories we have on it is that when it crashed an avalanche fell down on top of it, and that is actually supported by documentation during that time. Recovery efforts went out to find this site, the only thing they could see almost was the tail portion of the plane. They continued to have bad weather during this time trying to send out recovery operations and it got to the point where, either because of snow falling on top of it, or the wreckage falling down, they were no longer able to locate it.”
Dobson says the wreckage has been buried in and carried along with the glacier for sixty years. She says some of the lighter remains made it to the surface more recently, and triggered an investigation
The Globemaster was the largest plane of its type at the time, capable of handling cargo as big as a tank or bulldozer and, if outfitted for transporting passengers, could carry as many as 200 soldiers, according to National Museum of the Air Force.
Antique Wreckage and Bone Fragments Found in Downed Aircraft
Investigators have completed a recovery mission of the wreck of a vintage airplane from a Matanuska Valley Glacier.
A team of specialists have completed an investigation into a downed aircraft found earlier this month on the Colony Glacier in the Matanuska Valley. (Earlier reports cited the Knik Glacier – latest info changes that).
The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, based in Hawaii, sent a team to Alaska after Alaska National Guard members on a routine mission discovered the wreckage on June 10.
Capt. Jamie Dobson, is a public affairs officer for the JPAC:
“We’re not 100 percent sure of exactly what we’ve recovered yet. But some of the material evidence recovered at the site correllates to a military aircraft of the 1950s.”
Dobson says the team reached the site on June 18, initially intending to examine the site to provide assessment for a follow up recovery team.
But the team realized they could manage the recovery and began immediately. Deteriorating environmental conditions were a factor in that decision.
The team recovered materials, such as life support equipment from the “antique” wreckage, and some bone fragments from the glacier.
“There was some stuff found that we think will be very helpful in determining and correllating what we found at the site with known wreckages in the area. But yeah, some of the stuff was found in pretty surprisingly good condition. It was interesting to see. “
The evidence will be transported to JPAC’s Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii for further analysis. Dobson says it is not known how long the lab work will take before positive identification is made.
JPAC falls under the U.S. Pacific Command, and works to search for the more than 83, 000 Americans still missing from past conflicts.
“Once the site was discovered, the Alaskan Command and all the elements around Alaska just went above and beyond supporting JPAC in helping us do this mission. I think it’s a tribute to just how important is is to people to bring home our heroes who have been missing. “
The Alaska Air National Guard’s 212th Rescue Squadron and the Northern Warfare Training Center from Fort Wainwright provided additional personnel to assist the recovery operation.