When this ex-military pilot, an extremely adventurous man and a talented businessman decided to take his passion to aircraft to another level, he couldn’t imagine he would find such an unbelievable treasure. This is his story.
A Man with a vision
Before he became a successful businessman and restaurant owner, David Tallichet served as a co-pilot in the United States Army Air Forces. During his army service, he flew a Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress. His military service during the World War and afterwards catalysed his passion and devotion for airplanes, a passion that would eventually secure his legacy for many years to come.
Passion takes over
After the war was over, David joined the New Mexico Air National Guard for a few years. When he retired from the United States Air Force, he decided to take his passion for aircrafts to a whole new level. Due to the fact that he was a visionary, Tallichet made a decision to assemble old airplanes, to build them and to restore them. However, his big discovery of a hidden lost treasure was yet to come.
Journey to the jungle
As part of his never-ending devotion, David chose to gather around a unique crew to explore Papua New Guinea, an island in the south-western Pacific, which is considered to be one of the last few unexplored places on the globe. The team travelled a long way through the unknown, tangled jungle of Papua New Guinea, until they ran into a strange swamp which contained a peculiar thing.
A mysterious surprise
All of David’s crew were trained and skilled personnel, but although the team had a vast knowledge and experience in survival, they did not expect to stumble upon their amazing discovery by pure accident. When they suddenly revealed it, David and the rest of the crew felt that all their extensive and hard work for this exhausting trip was worth it in the end. However, their journey was just getting started.
The lost treasure
Their huge discovery was found inside the swamp, in the middle of the south-western Pacific. Deep down in the muddy waters, They found what looks like an old airplane. The aircraft was deserted, and looked like it was out of service many years ago. He was covered in leaves and branches. When they realized what they found, they were thrilled with joy and excitement with their discovery.
A lesson in history
The old airplane that they found was dated back to 1942. The story takes us back in time, to the midst of World War II. Two men named Captain Fred Eaton and Henry Maynard, who served at the U.S Army Air Corps, were sent on a special and dangerous mission, a long way from home. Eaton and Maynard could not know that they were a part of history in the making, and that it was just the beginning of an odyssey for them
Their task was to fly the Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress, a bomber plane, from Australia. Eaton and Maynard knew that Their mission was perilous from the beginning. However, Their mission became extremely dangerous as their plane was intercepted by the Imperial Japanese forces, who caught them by surprise. The strike took place in the middle of the New-Britain campaign all around the pacific region during the war.
During the Japanese air strike, their plane managed to suffer a substantial number of hits that eventually forced Eaton, Maynard and their crew to crash in the island of Papua new Guinea. However, the plane’s reason for crashing on the island was not because of the Japanese hits (those airplanes were strongly built). In the end, they had to crash-land due to the fact the aircraft’s fuel had eventually ran out.
Despite the major crisis, Eaton, Maynard and their crew finally managed to crash-land the airplane on safe grounds. The aircraft landed in a place that now is known as the Agaimbo Swamp in Papua new Guinea on February 23, 1942, with no casualties on their side. Eaton and his crew’s original final destination was their home base, which was located at Long Reach in Queensland, Australia.
Back to base
The group made a collective decision to join back to their troops, and they started traveling back to safe haven on foot, which proved as a hard-boiled experience. Being on the road for almost six weeks, the team suffered from serious exhaustion, Malaria and boiling heat. In the end of their odyssey, luck was on their side and Eaton and his men finally managed to found their way back to the U.S troops unharmed.
A relic in the marsh
The team was soon reunited with their troops, and told them about the incident. After their arrival, they joined back to the allied forces and were assigned to a different aircraft instantly. Due to the fact that they had no time to waste, they were back on the air within a week. From that dangerous incident and until that day, the Boeing B-17E Flying fortress remained abandoned in the swamp, hidden from the rest of the world.
The missing bomber
The lost plane that crashed in the swamp remained forsaken in the marsh for many years, and soon became known as the “Swamp Ghost”. Its fate was unknown and nobody in the world had any knowledge on its whereabouts, not even the plane crew themselves. After some time, the swamp ghost myth began to gain notoriety among aviation experts and others, until the arrival of texan aviator David Tallichet.
A second rendezvous
By that time you should have noticed that the “Swamp ghost” – the Boeing B-17E Flying fortress, is the same airplane that David Tallichet and his crew found accidentally while exploring the island of Papua new Guinea in the 1980’s. The team figured out that the aircraft that was left deserted in the swamp for many years, will be needing intensive reconstruction. David’s goal was to recover it and to bring the plane back to it’s old self.
Preparing for recovery
When the crew finally finished examining the wreckage of the aircraft in the muddy waters, they decided to leave it there in order to return home and prepare themselves for the reconstruction. The team assembled back in the U.S under Tallichet’s command for the bomber plane recovery. on their return to Papua new Guinea eight months later, David and the others immediately started working on the plane.
Complex actions were needed in order to bring the B-17E back to shape. In the process of recovering the airplane, they realized that the aircraft had to be disassembled to pieces. Afterwards, Tallichet and his staff used a helicopter they brought with them, in order to lift the pieces onto a boat that was docking nearby. Unfortunately for them, things didn’t went smoothly as they thought they would.
A falling out
The conditions were far from perfect, and eventually the angels they flew the parts were less than normal. As a result, while moving one of the wings it was accidentally lost in the marsh. Another reason for that was also due to the fact that they didn’t secured it properly, causing it to fall. Tallichet questioned himself after the incident if this could be done, but decided that this minor setback would not hold him down, and he kept going.
David’s team members weren’t strong believers as he was, and the salvage of the airplane turned out to be slow and nerve-racking procedure. The crew battled with major health issues, such as near-panic attacks and other incidents. However, Tallichet did not give up and remained persistent and devout to his mission. In the end, the crew were able to rescue the Flying Fortress successfully, and he knew that his dream had come true.
Message from the past
After a long and tiresome process, the crew eventually completed the recovery of the Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress. The airplane became known as the only active bomber plane from the world war II period. It’s truly unbelievable and actually one of a kind.
Rest at last
Once the recovery was final and complete, the reconstructed Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress bomber plane was officially called off duty in an official military ceremony, and was placed back where he belonged. This famous exhibit from the World War era remained there until this day, and is shown for display for the public at the Pacific Aviation Museum in Hawaii.
The famous lost Bomber plane was finally laid down in his final resting place. After achieving many accomplishment and goals in his life, David Tallichet passed away in 2007. David made history, and without his endless drive and commitment the Swamp Ghost could have stayed buried for many more years. David Tallichet’s story is a lesson to us all. It’s a lesson about passion and determination, to never give up and to fulfill your dreams. Thanks to him, the American aviation’s lost treasure is no longer lost.