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Bring Back the Snow - Rub the Wing with Us!

Posted on December 27th, 2013

Bring back the snow. Rub the wing. We need your help.

We’re opening up a route to the Bomber Wing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 28, for a “Bomber Wing Rub-a-Dub” party. We’ll have food and drink, our Snow Professor Tony, and some general good cheer on hand as we attempt to appease the PNW snow gods with a rub of our lucky bomber wing.

In the fall of 1944, a B-24 Liberator bomber crashed into the side of Mission Ridge, killing all six crew members. The wreckage is still here, under the snow in the bomber chutes area.

In 1985, a wing from the wreckage was moved down into the lodge for display. In 1993, after a number of poor snow years, we mounted the wing back near the crash site (at the top of North Bomber)… and the snow returned.

Somewhere along the line, the legend of the bomber wing grew, and locals say you have to rub the wing for the snow to come.

So far this season, the runs that access the bomber wing area have been closed (for lack of snow). No one has rubbed the wing. We got to thinking: Maybe that’s the problem!

To get there on Saturday: Take Chair 2 to the top, and ski or board down the Bomber Access Road, which Ski Patrol will open from 11am – 2pm. No walkers. You must be on skis or a snowboard.

To get out: Follow the groomed trail that heads straight back to Tumwater.

Food: Hot dog, chips and a soda / $2 (cash only)

Be Advised: DO NOT attempt to ski down through the bomber bowl area. It will all be roped off. Thin coverage makes it unsafe for skiing (however tempting it looks).

Bomber Crash History

  • On September 30th, 1944, B-24 Bomber serial #42-78579 crashed into the cliffs at Mission Ridge.  The night was rainy and foggy when the Beehive Fire Lookout saw a plane fly overhead at about 8pm.  He then saw a distant glow on Mission Ridge.  The plane failed to clear the peak by 500-1000 feet.  A crew of men including those from the Beehive Lookout and the Army hiked in with a pack train the next day.  The fire from the wreck was almost completely extinguished from the rain the night before.  The plane was completely torn apart.
  • Manning the flight was Flight Crew #22, Squadron T-2 out of the Walla Walla Army Air Base when it was caught in a storm.  All of the bodies were found and carried out on the pack train. The normal flight crew for a B-24 Liberator was 10 men, but only six men were on the craft at the time.  It is believed that the four gunners were not on this particular training mission.
  • Crew members were:  pilot, 2nd Lt. J.D. Hunt, Louisville, Ky.; co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Ted R Lewis, Tulsa, Ok.; navigator, Flight Officer Robert J Henneckes, Cincinnati, Ohio; bombardier, 2nd Lt. Francis W. Lequier Jr., Suluth, Minn.; engineer, Corp.  Calvin D. Flaming, Capulin, NM,; radio operator, Corp. James R Manthei, Marshfield, Wis..
  • The plane was on a training flight.
  • We do not know the “name” of the plane.

B-24 Specifications:

Span:  110 ft.
Length:  67 ft 2 in
Height:  18 ft
Wing Area:  1048 sq ft
Empty Weight:  36,500 lb
Gross Weight:  65,000 lb
Max Speed:  300 mph @ 30,000 ft
Cruise Speed:  215 mph @ 8,000 ft
Ceiling:  30,000 ft.
Max Range:  3,300 mi
Powerplants:  P & W R-1830-65 of 1200 hp each

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