Abandoned B-29 Spotted On Google Maps

 
Coordinates: 64°42'12.5"N 147°07'36.7"W. Image: Google Maps/USAF: Staff Sgt Joshua Strang
Coordinates: 64°42'12.5"N 147°07'36.7"W. Image: Google Maps/USAF: Staff Sgt Joshua Strang
 
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There was also information onboard that the plane had flown missions between Alaska and Japan in order to detect Soviet nuclear testing in 1949.

A B-29 ex-weather reconnaissance plane has been spotted on Google maps and christened the “Lady of the Lake.” Her image, posted on Google Maps by visitors, has given conspiracy theorists and mystery enthusiasts hours of fun and intrigue.

But, as it turns out, her history is less romantic than many would like to believe. Tail-number 44-62214 was never shot down, did not crash into the lake, and was never part of any historic combat mission. Rather, the plane was part of the 58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron.

The Lady of the Lake at Eielson Airforce Base in Alaska was the last WB-29 Weather Bomber left at Eielson after she was stripped of all useful spare parts required to keep the rest of the 58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron airborne. At the time, spare WB-29 parts were hard to source. After she was cannibalized, the plane was dropped from the inventory.

B-29 Superfortress in Flight.
B-29 Superfortress in Flight.

According to records at the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell Air Force Base, on September 24, 1954, B-29, Tail Number 44-62214 went on the Aircraft Out Of Commission For Parts list. She was given P.E. status, which meant that she was permanently out of use due to wear and tear.

Her final status was confirmed in 1955 following an alleged ground accident. However, no record of any accident investigation survives.

Eventually, everything useful that could be harvested had been removed from the aircraft, and only the shell remained. Even the landing gear had been removed.

Boeing B-29 Superfortresses at Wichita, Kansas, 1944.
Boeing B-29 Superfortresses at Wichita, Kansas, 1944.

The bones of the plane were ordered to be moved to a disused quarry on the edge of the airbase. The abandoned quarry had filled with water that had subsequently frozen over, so the plane was dragged onto the ice and left to disappear with the spring thaw.

As the warmer weather arrived the plane did indeed sink, but the water was not as deep as everyone had expected, so she was only half submerged. This presented an opportunity for training crews in extraction techniques, and the plane entered a secondary phase of useful life.

Most of the missions flown out of Eielson were over the North Pacific or the Arctic, so this worked well for a season.

B-29 Superfortress in Flight.
B-29 Superfortress in Flight.

The next winter came and froze the plane into a solid sheet of ice, and the following spring the water level was deemed too high to make training a safe option. Since then, she has lain undisturbed for decades until recent roadbuilding has made the wreck more accessible.

 

A dive team explored the wreck just a few years ago. According to a report on the Eielson Base website, evidence was discovered of water extraction training. An A-frame was found inside the plane, specifically used for water extraction, thereby confirming that part of the story.

B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay 82
B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay 82

There was also information onboard that the plane had flown missions between Alaska and Japan in order to detect Soviet nuclear testing in 1949.

The Weather Squadron arrived at Eielson on March 5, 1949, after the base had had a quiet Second World War. The squadron remained at the base until August 1958.

Eielson Flightline.
Eielson Flightline.

Today, the base is part of the Eleventh Air Force of the Pacific Air Forces. Its primary stated mission is to support pilot and ground crew training requirements including counter-air, interdiction, and close-air support in simulated combat conditions.

Read another story from us: Facts of The Groundbreaking B-29

The base is rumored to be in line to receive 54 F-35 fighter planes between 2020 and 2022 alongside 3,500 new personnel, which is expected to almost double to current airbase population.

The wing motto used by the Eielson airmen is “Ready to go at fifty-below.” They refer to themselves as “ice-men,” so any newcomers and visitors should be well prepared for the cold.

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