The “Lady of the Lake” is what remains of a B-29 weather reconnaissance aircraft that rests in the middle of an Alaskan lake near Eielson Air Force Base.
The aircraft formerly belonging to Eielson's 58th WRS. In 1957, many of the B-29s were replaced by B-50s, a larger version of the B-29. Although the two airplane models looked alike, most parts were not interchangeable. After World War II, many B-29s were stripped of all their useful parts, so that they could be recycled as production of new parts were stopped. By the time the B-50s arrived, parts cannibalization on B-29s was standard practice, just to keep the remaining planes of the fleet flying.
The “Lady of the Lake” was one such unfortunate aircraft. With all the useful parts removed, and with no chance of replacement, the plane was removed from the active aircraft inventory. At that time, almost all of the flights originating out of Eielson AFB were reconnaissance flights traveling over open water, either over the Arctic Ocean, or the North Pacific Ocean. It was decided that the grounded B-29 be used for open water extraction practice.
The plane was hauled out to its present location - a gravel pit off Transmitter Road - via the railroad, and set up in a shallow pond for training purposes. Unfortunately, rain water collected in the pool around the aircraft forming a small pond. Soon the water level became too high to continue the extraction training, and the plane was abandoned in place, where it subsequently became known as “The Lady of the Lake”.
Over the years, a certain mystic rose around the plane, and many different theories came about as to its origins. According to a running rumor, the aircraft was practicing touch-and-go landings when the front landing gear of a B-29P buckled, sending the temporary duty aircraft careening across the Eielson runway into a snowbank. Towing operations damaged the aircraft even more, and base officials decided to condemn the aircraft and strip it of usable parts. As the story goes, several years later the B-29 was hauled to a gravel pit where a lake formed around the dilapidated aircraft.
This story is not true. According to Air Force records, the plane broke down in September 1954 and was declared a permanent loss due to wear and tear on November 15 the same year. When it was towed to its present location is unknown.
A B-29 Superfortress in flight. Photo credit
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