ep 76: The Kee Bird, Revisited

Episode 76 Cover Art

Episode 76 Cover ArtThe Digression Podcast Guys are taking some much-needed time off, so climb aboard the Wayback Machine as we revisit one of our favorite episodes from the early days: Recovering the Kee Bird (episode #8 from 8/25/2019). In addition to a cleaned-up replay of the original episode, we share some additional news and insight about the Kee Bird crash and the pilot who flew her.



Record-Breaker Darryl Greenamyer Passes Away

Information from Dan Berriochoa in his paper “Environmental and Organizational Impacts on the 46th /72nd Reconnaissance Squadrons” and the Kee Bird Incident Report

Pilot: Lt Vern Arnett

December 11, 1946. 46th Reconnaissance Squadron, Ladd Field, AK. Piloting a B-29, nicknamed We’ve Had It. Shortly after taking off in extreme cold and fog, the plane lost the #1 and #3 engines. After crossing the Chena River, the We’ve Had It crashed into a wooded area west of the runway and burst into flames. Luckily, the entire crew escaped the wreckage with only minor injuries. Weather was blamed for the crash.

February 21, 1947. Lt Vern Arnett crashes the Kee Bird. The crash was blamed on the crew.

December 23, 1947. 46th Reconnaissance Squadron, Ladd Field, AK. Lt Arnett crashes the B-29 nicknamed The Forlorn Turkey into the northeast side of Lane Mountain, roughly 95 miles north of Nome. The crew survived, but two crew members were seriously injured. This crash was blamed on Arnett, who Lt. Arnett who’s overconfidence in his judgment of the aircraft’s location when he knew there was terrain higher than his altitude in the area put the crew in a dangerous position.

Three crashes and two of them made national headlines. Of the four B-29s lost by the 46th
and later the 72nd Reconnaissance Squadron, Lt. Arnett commanded of 3 of them. WTF?!?

FIFI Reveals Why WW2 B29 Kee Bird was Destroyed | History X

Chris and Jody are Air Force vets who enjoy military history and folklore. They have a podcast. They tell stories. They digress. A lot.

1 thought on “ep 76: The Kee Bird, Revisited

  1. The information about the Key Bird being jacked up by the Air Force is incorrect. There was absolutely no attempt to even assess the aircraft after the rescue mission. It was immediately written off and purged from the inventory.
    The Key Bird was jacked up the year before the Nova documentary filming, when Darryl, Rick Kriege and Gary Larkins flew a Huey loaded with all the tools and supplies they could strap to it up to the lake to assess the B-29. They brought 2 20 ton jacks and 2 10 ton jacks with them, jacked up the rear of the plane under the wings enough to manually lower and lock the main gear, then used the helicopter to lower 7,000 lbs of sand in 55 gallon drums onto the horizontal stabilizer, which tilted the nose of the plane up enough for them to manually lower and lock the nose gear (all of the tires still held their pressure after 47 years, by the way).
    They had also filled engine #1 with penetrating oil and let it sit and soak throughout the process of getting the plane up onto its landing gear. They then transferred oil from engines #2 and #3 to #1, because the Key Bird crew had drained oil from #1 and #4 for the signal fire. All of that finished, they drained the penetrating oil from #1, pumped in some fuel and fired up the engine after only a few moments of cranking.
    I believe that’s also when they pulled down the rudder frame in preparation for covering, then they secured their supplies and flew back to Thule to plan for the big recovery the following summer,

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