Update January 2009
In January 2008, TIGHAR executive director Ric Gillespie, structures engineer Al Baycora, and Texas A&M conservator Peter Fix visited the P-38 site, collected environmental data, and confirmed that the aircraft is completely buried. That’s just what we want. The sand not only hides the wreck from looters and protects it from storm damage, but it returns the aircraft to the relatively anaerobic environment that accounts for its remarkable state of preservation. How long it will remain covered is anybody’s guess, so the TIGHAR delegation met with senior national museum officials around the UK to advocate for the aircraft’s recovery and conservation.
The result of those meetings was a consensus that the Royal Air Force Museum would move forward with planning to recover the aircraft using military assets. In September, RAFM, having investigated a number of options, determined that they were not able to afford the recovery. The challenge of finding a way to save the Maid of Harlech reverted to TIGHAR and the UK national museum community as a whole.
At present the Maid remains safely hidden, protected from molestation, both natural and human, by the same forces that have sheltered and preserved her for sixty-six years. Still to be determined is where the P-38 will ultimately be exhibited. In the meantime, plans for the aircraft’s recovery and conservation continue to be refined while the search continues for the sponsorship to implement them. Until then, the Maid of Harlech sleeps beneath the sand waiting for her knight in shining armor.
However it plays out, TIGHAR is committed to seeing that this rare opportunity is not lost, but advocating for historic aircraft is expensive. Contributions to the Maid of Harlech Memorial Fund go to help cover TIGHAR’s expenses in advocating for the responsible recovery and conservation of Lockheed P-38F 41-7677. If you wish, you can make your donation of $100 or more in the name of any World War II veteran. When the aircraft is recovered, a permanent memorial with the names of the donors and honorees will accompany the P-38 to the accessioning museum.
In the meantime, we’ll send you a handsome Certificate of Recognition acknowledging your support in helping us make sure this priceless relic is preserved for future generations.
To donate to the Maid of Harlech Project, click HERE.