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B-17 Search 1998
1998 Search for the B-17

During the summer of 1998 UAS and company traveled to Labrador to locate a Boeing B-17 downed on a frozen lake December 24th, 1947.In addition to location analysis of the wreckage was performed to determine the feasibility of recovery and restoration.

Robert Mester:

You have not heard from me in awhile. I have been in the backwoods of Northwest Labrador looking for a B-17 W.W.II 4 engine bomber lost during a forced landing on Dec. 24, 1947. The trip was great! We found the submerged aircraft in 20 feet of frigid and fast moving water. We were able to locate the aircraft even though it had moved over 10 miles from its crash site on Dyke Lake in Labrador. The aircraft floated on a chunk of ice during the spring ice break-up of 1948. Skill, good equipment, great staff and thorough research made this location and identification possible. The area is breath taking. Itís remoteness provided a beauty that I have seen only once before, the Aleutian chain. It sterility from civilization tend to cleanse the soul. There were 4 search personnel and 5 project personnel. The project personnel were the same guys that recovered the P-38 from Greenland; top-notch people and a pleasure to work with. My team consisted of Crayton Fenn, Steve Ladd, and Dal Neitzel. Dal is a video-photographer and produces documentaries, but Crayton Fenn recruited him as an additional side scan team member when he wasnít otherwise busy.

The weather was not bad but often terrible. Not cold but often freezing. The wind was dead calm, (and the mosquitoes ate you alive), but very gusty. You can figure out by now that the weather changes more in this area than I have ever experienced before. At night the Aurora Borealis was unable to be described with words, it was mystical and primeval. I shall never lose the images that night nor forget the spirit it awakened inside me. I regret not recording the sites on film or digital tape but something inside told me maybe it is best not to attempt to record or recreate such an event.

B-17 at the crash site

We arrived on a Tuesday the 29 of July in Labrador a place called Shefferville. This is actually on Quebec but in Shefferville. We flew the whole expedition in a W.W.II C-47 restored and owned by Don Brook, Project manager. Once in Shefferville we reloaded all the equipment into Dehavalian Otters, these are seaplanes. Then we flew SE to Dyke lake and set up camp at an old fishing camp no longer in use. This is about 1 mile from the reported crash site of the B-17 on the frozen lake Ė December 24th, 1947.By Labrador law we hire two local guides. One is an Inuit Eskimo named Don Mitsuk, great guy and a real pleasure to be around. The other guide was Donís 17-year-old Labbie (Labaradorian) sidekick named Gary. They fished for our meals and were a great amount of help, cooking, lifting, and filling the role of local encyclopedia. They were helpful in all manners.

We spent 8 days in locating and diving doing video and stills photography to determine if this aircraft is financially worthy of recovery for restoration. It was a great trip and I will attach some images from the expedition.