B-17 PILOT SPOTTED BOURASSA PLANE
To Orwell Today,
re: JOHNNY BOURASSA'S MISSING PLANE & U-2 SEARCHERS FIND BOURASSA'S PLANE
I was referred to you by Wayne Letkeman, who blogged about Johnnie Bourassa's Skyrocket, and the search for him. I notice that you reference a USAF U-2 that crashed in September of the same year (1951), and I am wondering if you can verify that for me. My information shows that the U-2 did not fly until 1955, and the launch customer was the CIA. The USAF did not begin to fly the U-2 until several years later. I wonder if you were thinking of another crash, perhaps.
Thanks for pointing out that it wasn't a U-2 plane that searchers were searching for when they found Johnny Bourassa's plane instead -- ie U-2s didn't even exist back then. Oops. Here's a write-up backing your info:
USAF U-2 Spy Plane The US Air Force U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft first flew in 1955 and was developed by Lockheed Martin at the famous Skunk Works site. The aircraft provides continuous surveillance day and night and in all weathers. The aircraft can gather surveillance and signals intelligence data in real time and can be deployed anywhere in the world...
I didn't actually write the U-2 SEARCHERS FIND BOURASSA'S PLANE article you reference -- I merely posted it from a 1994 article in UP HERE magazine entitled THE TUNDRA STILL HOLDS ITS SECRETS. I see the magazine is still in existence on-line so I'll contact the editor* and point out the error.
Since receiving your email I went searching through my books for who actually did spot Bourassa's plane and it turns out it was a USAF B-17 during a routine flight between its base in Greenland to its base in Edmonton which took it over Wholadaia Lake. But there's controversy in that some people say the B-17 was searching for a missing mail plane and that's why it was in the area.
Here are the pertinent passages from the book LOST by Shirlee Smith Matheson -- who seems to have relied heavily on the opinions of Neil Murphy -- who also seems to be the main source for the aforementioned UP HERE article. The book came out in 2005, while the magazine article came out in 1994. The book makes no mention of a search for a crashed U-2. Neil Murphy is cited as knowing Johnny from his youth in Peace River and also worked at the airport in Yellowknife that Johnny flew out of for the last time.
page 136: ...On August 31, 1951, Labour Day weekend, a USAF B-17 pilot supposedly searching for a lost aircraft told Art Spooner, the operator at the Cooking Lake floatplane base, that he'd spotted a downed aircraft near Snowbird Lake. It was initially described as "a silver Norseman on skis, red wing-tipped, letters DF-EQP on the beach, no people." Tommy (T.P.) Fox, who had recently acquired Yellowknife Airways, immediately recognized the registration. He dispatched the company's Fort Smith-based pilot, Gordon Cameron, to fly to the site with an RCMP officer. Cameron's telegram confirmed it was indeed Bourassa's airplane. Fox relayed the information to the Department of Transport....
page 149: ...These and other factors cause Carl Huff -- and some others -- to feel it was quite possible that Johnny staged his own disappearance. "He could have had money on him if he'd come across the lost US mail plane which had crashed off-route, and found cash aboard," Huff says.
People who know Bourassa take issue with Huff's theories, "What mail plane?" Neil Murphy asks "The USAF B-17 was coming down from their big air force base at Thule [Greenland] by Melville Bay to Edmonton, the control district for this part of the country, which is in a straight line that passes close to Wholadaia Lake. So maybe the US air force wasn't even searching for a downed airplane."...
~ end quoting from Lost ~
The original story I heard -- way back when I was a child -- was that Johnny's plane was spotted strictly by chance -- long after the official search had been called off -- by a military plane flying high overhead and seeing a glint of light reflected off metal below -- which turned out to be Johnny's plane.
Now I realize it was a USAF B-17 bomber -- otherwise known as the Flying Fortress -- that found Johnny Bourassa.
All the best,
PS - I just completed a couple articles along the same theme. See PILOT MCCALLUM RESCUED YUKON SURVIVORS and THE FLYING BOURASSA BROTHERS
*Jackie sends notice of the U-2 correction to Up Here magazine re their article about the search for Johnny Bourassa's plane
Area 51 declassified: No UFOs, but lots of U-2 spy planes, CNBC, Aug 16, 2013
A newly declassified CIA history from 20 years ago spills the story about Nevada's Area 51 and its secret mission -- which was not to study UFOs, but to test the U-2 and other spy planes. The CIA's story about the legendary test site is contained in "The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: the U-2 and Oxcart Programs."... The book describes how officials involved in planning the spy-plane projects flew over the Nevada desert in a small plane in April 1955, looking for sites suitable for secret tests. "They spotted what appeared to be an airstrip by a salt flat known as Groom Lake, near the northeast corner of the Atomic Energy Commission's (AEC) Nevada Proving Ground," the book's authors wrote. The facility had been used during World War II as an aerial gunnery range, and the officials decided it would be "an ideal site for testing the U-2 and training its pilots," according to the book. The AEC agreed to add the area to its real estate holdings, "and President Eisenhower also approved the addition of this strip of wasteland, known by its map designation as Area 51, to the Nevada Test Site." The authors of the CIA history, Gregory Pedlow and Donald Welzenbach, said the site was nicknamed "Paradise Ranch," or simply the Ranch, to make it sound more attractive to the test project's workers. The first U-2 test flight took place at Area 51 on August 4, 1955, and over the years that followed, the site was used for training U-2 pilots. The Groom Lake facility was also used for development of the U-2 spy plane's successors, including the Lockheed A-12 Oxcart and the D-21 Tagboard. Later on, Area 51 served as a test site for the F-117 stealth fighter. To this day, the area surrounding the facility has been closely guarded, and the airspace is off-limits to civilian air traffic...
YUKON SURVIVOR FLORES FRIEND'S STORY
(Flores lived with Alaska family before crash)
50th anniversary Flores-Klaben Yukon survival
(49-days in 49-below still every bit as gripping)
PILOT MCCALLUM RESCUED YUKON SURVIVORS
(took the photo on the cover of Life magazine)
THE FLYING BOURASSA BROTHERS
B-17 PILOT SPOTTED BOURASSA PLANE
PostMedia/Email, August 17-24, 2013
Flett Lake Adventure, by Wayne Letkeman, September 8, 2012 (...While flying along on our way to Flett Lake one Elder was sitting up front with me and we talked about the history of the area, and he told me about a plane crash that occured in the early fifty's, which had not been made public, but the local trapper had discovered the wreckage and found the pilot had perished in the crash. So, always being curious about history I researched a crash that occured in 1951, and I found there had been two. One in May and the second in September and it was during the search for the latter aircraft that the May crash was discovered. The May crash was Johnnie Bourassa on a trip back from Bathurst Inlet which at the time was in the Northwest Territories...
The U-2 Airplane Incident, May-July 1960 (On May 1, 1960, a USAF U-2 unarmed reconnaissance plane, piloted by Francis Gary Powers who was employed by the Central Intelligence Agency, was shot down by Soviet military authorities 1,200 miles inside the Soviet Union near Sverdlovsk. In the following days, Nikita Khrushchev exploited the incident to sabotage the summit meeting between the Heads of Government of the United States, Soviet Union, France, and the United Kingdom, which began in Paris on May 16, 1960. Documentation on the relationship between the U-2 incident and the collapse of the summit is in volume IX.... In a memorandum to Goodpaster, August 18, Allen W. Dulles listed all U-2 overflights of Soviet bloc nations, [text not declassified] since the initiation of the U-2 operations on June 20, 1956. [text not declassified] The last flight mentioned was Francis Gary Powers' mission of May 1, 1960...
U-2 Spy Plane: The US Air Force U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft first flew in 1955 and was developed by Lockheed Martin at the famous Skunk Works site. The aircraft provides continuous surveillance day and night and in all weathers. The aircraft can gather surveillance and signals intelligence data in real time and can be deployed anywhere in the world...
B-17 Flying Fortress: In response for the Army’s request for a large, multiengine bomber, the B-17 (Model 299) prototype, financed entirely by Boeing, went from design board to flight test in less than 12 months... The first B-17s saw combat in 1941, when the British Royal Air Force took delivery of several B-17s for high-altitude missions. As World War II intensified, the bombers needed additional armament and armor... Boeing plants built a total of 6,981 B-17s in various models, and another 5,745 were built under a nationwide collaborative effort by Douglas and Lockheed (Vega). Only a few B-17s survive today; most were scrapped at the end of the war. Some of the last Flying Fortresses met their end as target drones in the 1960s — destroyed by Boeing Bomarc missiles.
Up Here is the flagship magazine of Canada's North, exalting, exploring and examining the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and related Northern areas for a national and international audience curious and passionate about the region. From our position North of Sixty, we bring to life the North's timeless yet dynamic romance, intrigue, wonder and weirdness. Founded in 1984 by Marion Lavigne and Ronne Heming, who still remain as publishers, Up Here is published eight times a year and based in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada.
Searching for Johnny Bourassa (compilation of articles and photos)
LEGENDS LOUIS & JOHNNY BOURASSA and YUKON SURVIVORS FLORES FRIEND STORY and PILOT MCCALLUM RESCUED YUKON SURVIVORS and B-17 PILOT SPOTTED BOURASSA PLANE and THE FLYING BOURASSA BROTHERS and JOHNNY BOURASSA DIAMOND IN ROUGH and POEM MEMORY OF LOUIS BOURASSA and SNOW WALKER JOHNNY BOURASSA and U-2 SEARCHERS FIND BOURASSA and JOHNNY BOURASSA'S MISSING PLANE and JOHNNY BOURASSA FLIES FARLEY MOWAT and THE BOURASSAS OF PEACE RIVER and TRIBUTE TO LOUIS & JOHNNY BOURASSA
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~