It was 1952 when a Globemaster Air Force transport plane crashed full speed into a cliff in Alaska, exploding and disintegrating over at least two miles of snow. There were 52 people on board and all of them died. The plane had been spotted at the time of the crash, but rescue teams couldn't make their way to the wreckage because of bad weather. Then one of the world's harshest climates swallowed up the wreckage. Until now. The aircraft has been found on a glacier 40 miles away from Anchorage. And family members of the doomed plane are finally hoping for closure.
Tonja Anderson is the granddaughter of one of the airmen on that flight, Isaac. He died at 21 and left behind a wife and young child. Tonja has been researching the crash for 12 years. Says Tonja:
I'm overwhelmed. If they can bring me one bone of my grandfather or his dog tag, that would be closure for me.
Sixty years ago, this crash was one of three cargo planes that went down in Alaska that month. The military didn't feel it would be worth the cost and danger to try and excavate the plane, so it has been buried until the ice began to shift around it.
"The ice gives up what it wants to give up when it wants to give it up," said Army Capt. Jamie Dobson. "It's really in control."
While it must be great news for the relatives that the bones of their loves ones may have been found (it could take up to six months to confirm through DNA), nothing will bring back their lost family members. And they will never know if anyone survived the crash only to die on the frozen tundra -- though that is extremely unlikely given the way it crashed.
It would be great if the families were eventually given some kind of keepsake or a bit of remains that they could hold onto or bury.
Do you have any relatives who disappeared during wartime?
Image via Charles McCain/Flickr