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Libya: Can We Have the 'Lady Be Good' Back Now Please?Tim King Salem-News.com
Do the spoils of war include this? If so is there enough left to worry about?
The crew became hopelessly lost and because they were flying at night, they ultimately came to believe they were over the ocean, just about to run out of fuel, and this is what led to their decision to bail out. The survivors who left behind diaries and notes, stated that they were surprised to have landed on the desert sand, instead of the ocean they anticipated.
The men had plenty of time to try to resolve their situation, but their luck was lost in the dark night and as it turns out there was a call from the plane's crew advising their navigational distress, seeking a location... but the tower that heard the call failed to provide the data they do desperately sought, so that they could get the plane back on course. As it turns out, the air traffic controllers in that particular tower decided it might be a trick from the Germans, so the 'Lady Be Good' was allowed to fly into oblivion.
The plane continued for about 16 miles after the crew bailed out. It would take 16 years for this ghost to finally show itself to a western observer. In was in 1959, when a British oil crew spotted the mostly intact B24 and they approached the plane to investigate.
The official search was eventually called off due to problems with equipment and also due to the harsh environment.
The discovery of the military airplane led to the recovery of most of its crew members during the year of 1960, more than a decade and a half after the Lady disappeared. Combined with the findings from the crash site, the clues that the men left behind in their quest for survival, related the story of their final days.
What they found was nothing short of a time capsule.
While it was damaged, the plane that landed gently, all things considered. The massive four-engine bomber's rear section broke free from the main fuselage, it was all there and the people who initially found the plane learned that one of the engines was still functional, and at least one of the .50 caliber machine guns on the 'Lady Be Good' still sprayed deadly lead with the push of a trigger.
The plane's discovery led to a slow but thorough U.S. response, a significant set of discoveries, and the eventual recovery of the remains of most of the crew members.
They had traveled amazing distances for men with little to no water or supplies. However their calculation estimation of having to travel approximately 100 miles were actually off, way off. The distance they would have needed to cover was about 400 miles.
Temperatures in this part of Libya can reach 130 degrees. One can only imagine how completely the odds were stacked against these men.
There are many great resources on the crash, the search for the crew and the ongoing story of this plane. Several items from the plane were recovered by the United States and are displayed along with personal effects recovered from the crew.
However the plane itself, never found its way back to the United States, seems Muamar Gaddafi found it particularly interesting and had Libyan teams recover it some number of years ago and bring it back to Tobruck, where it was placed in a storage yard that is part of the Tobruck Police Station.
A somewhat well known Libyan military officer, Suleiman Mahmoud was a commander in Gaddafi's army, where he served as commander of the Tobruk Military Region. This senior military official was among the first to support the western backed 'Libyan Rebels' and as he turned on his national leadership, he retained control of a large number of fighters.
However one of the first things rebel forces did, was torch the and essentially raze the Tobruck Police station. Where this leaves the wreckage of the 'Lady Be Good' is unknown.
I sincerely hope that people who know the disposition of the aircraft's remains will leave comments on this story. I believe after looking at the picture that Soleiman Mahmoud took of the plane, recovered from the desert and transported to Tobruck, that it would be fantastic to have it back here, after a very long, extended mission to a war that Americans helped win.
There are overwhelming political connections to the west's bloody conquest of Libya. Disturbed by the trends I was seeing in May 2010, I wrote the article Questions Surround Third U.S. War Theater: AFRICOM, I was disturbed to realize that the United States military and political (read 'business') interests had secured a place in all but one of Africa's nations.
So, now that the U.S. and its allies have gone and done this, and since the U.S. has its political, military and business claws in Libya's back, neck and sides, can we have the plane back? It would be nice, these are American heroes and they died in service
The Arab uprising against Gaddafi, who in the opinion of so many Libyans and political experts was not even a fraction of the tyrant he was portrayed to be; (he was making incredible strides for Libya, and he threatened to remove the U.S. dollar from the oil game) left the western powers once again, with the blood of many on its hands.
The 'rebels' in the opinion of many, are little more than Islamic thugs who are willing to take a few bucks from NATO to betray their country, however in many cases there probably was little choice.
Gaddafi on the other hand, followed the people who fought with one of my personal heroes, Omar Mukhtar.
He was the Libyan resistance leader who had tremendous success fighting Italy's Fascist colonialism of Libya that happened almost exactly 100 years ago and involved Mussolini's building the first concentration camps, for Libyans, whose land he and his neo Roman army stole. (see: The Lion of Libya: Omar Mukhtar, Launched Resistance of Italy's Colonial Invasion 100 Years Ago)
I don't like any of it, I would rather see a peaceful country where our war relic is still possessed by a flashy dictator who at least thought enough about the plane to preserve what was left, and as the photo shows that means the majority of the airplane.
However the photo of the wreckage in Tobruck when compared to how the plane appeared after discover in 1959, shows what appears to be substantial additional damage and the entire lower section of the forward fuselage appears to be missing.
The wings still appear attached. My general impression is that the wreckage was probably seriously damaged when it was brought back to Tobruck PD, however that is little more than my speculation.
I have had the opportunity to visit World War Two four-engine bomber crash sites in a variety of locations, and those in deserts, like southern Arizona and also near Las Vegas, Nevada, which I believe would be very similar to Libya in terms of climate and environment, showed little if any decay.
Aluminum still had a bright shine- a full half century and more after the various plane crashes.
My point is that this plane probably could have survived very well as a history specimen however I fear it was not handled adequately, and it would have needed to have been disassembled prior to being picked up and moved.
My introduction to this story was indirect in a way; when I was very young I saw the movie of the above title, Sole Survivor that was loosely based on the story of the Lady Be Good. In this film the crew were ghosts, they didn't realize they were dead, and they played baseball while still believing they would be rescued.
The film starred William Shatner and
IMDB (Internet Movie Database) carries this user-generated summary on the movie:
When a bomber believed to have crashed in the ocean 17 years ago is found in the Libyan desert. A Colonel and Major accompany the only surviving member of the crew, who is now a General to figure out what happened. The General claims that he and the other members of the crew jumped over the ocean when in reality he bailed out leaving the others to fend for themselves. And while the Colonel just wants the whole thing closed, the Major insists on finding the truth. And watching them are the ghosts of the crew.
Director: Paul Stanley
Writer: Guerdon Trueblood
Stars: Vince Edwards, Richard Basehart and William Shatner
I sincerely hope that this possibility is evaluated; the people at Evergreen Aviation in McMinnville, Oregon, house amazing aviation history at their museum of all types, and this seems like it would be a real historic gem. Since we've already helped clobber Libya out of sovereignty and into submission, this seems a fair spoil of war. Please visit all of the related Websites, I have just given you a small snapshot of this story, heavy on images; there is a great deal that can be learned.
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