WWII plane centerpiece of Middlesboro airport centennial celebration

By: Matthew Rand Email
By: Matthew Rand Email

MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (WYMT) - The Glacier Girl, the World War II era fighter plane that was restored in Middlesboro, came back home to celebrate 100 years of flight at the Middlesboro-Bell County Airport.

She's big, she's green, but don't call her ugly, at least not around the people who restored her. The Glacier Girl has a storied past, going all the way back to the night of July 15th, 1942.

"These planes were being flown to England to fight in the war. They were flying across Greenland, got lost in bad weather, and eventually ran out of fuel and were forced to make an emergency landing on the glacier," said Bob Cardin, who headed up the restoration project.

50 years later, the Glacier Girl was recovered and rebuilt in Middlesboro. She was back in town to mark the centennial of the first airplane to visit Bell County.

"Back in those days, they did what we call barnstorming, they just went around from community to community with the fairs, they followed fairs and different things like that," explained Glynna Brown, who chairs the airport board.

As the airport celebrates 100 years of flight in Bell County, people we talked to say aviation has played a big role in the growth of Southern Kentucky.

"People that know anything about the commercial side of aviation and even the business local side, you know it really promotes your area, to be able to come in and out with people that want to invest in this area, want to develop industry," said pilot and Middlesboro native Dan Spurlock.

People that brought the Glacier Girl back to life say she is an important piece of living history.

"You know World War II is the what that guaranteed the freedoms that we have today, and this is an instrument of that war," said Cardin.

In 2007, the Glacier Girl was sold and moved to Texas, but Cardin says Middlesboro will always be her home.

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