About this website:
By Jeff Benya
My flight in the B-17 - Yankee Lady returns to the hangar
When I was eight years old, my uncle built a 1/48 scale WWII B-17 bomber model for me. I swear that thing had a 3ft wing span! That was soon hung from my bedroom ceiling along with all sorts of other WWII era aircraft. But I was always fascinated with the B-17. Unfortunately, as I grew older, most of these planes succumbed to the ravages of bottle rockets and firecrackers, but the B-17 stayed with me all through high school.
My wife, Wendy & I before my flight in Yankee Lady
Growing up, my grandfather who served in the infantry in WWII, would regale us with stories from the time and I became interested in history of any kind, but specifically the Second World War, I would read anything I could get my hands on.
Sometime in 2004 a friend told me of a small town newspaper article he’d read about an intact B-17 crash site, in the woods near Glennie, MI. All he could say for sure was that he was working in Glennie during the summers of 2001-2003, and the date of the article was a big question mark. Years of off and on research proved fruitless, there was no B-17 near Glennie, but there was one near Silver City, MI in the remote wilderness of Porcupine Mountains State Park. More research revealed all kinds of information on the crash and crew but no location of the crash site. In 2006 I finally located, visited and documented the wreck site. It was so fun and interesting that I created a website to document the adventure.
Because of the research involved to locate that crash and the resulting website, internet contacts began coming up with more Michigan-based crash sites to research. The next thing you know, people I met in internet aviation forums are joining me on other wreck hunts! To date, I have researched and located four individual crash sites, and more are in the works. It has become apparent that I need a new website to create an internet journal of my research. This is that website.
What follows is a journal of my current research and will allow me to add more sites and information as I find them. There is something intriguing about looking through musty small town libraries, boxes of old newspapers or trying to run the microfilm machine. Even if you don't find what you are looking for, you'll stumble on everyday news stories that give a glimpse of life in a time gone by. While I am not opposed to digging, when I find a crash site, I am not going to excavate it, since I am not a trained archaeologist. For me it is enough just to find evidence of the crash, to stand in a place where history happened. If I've found something that can be identified as aircraft parts and the metal detector registers a lot of "hits" indicating an impact crater, I don't need to dig. These cases are always ongoing and if you have any information on any crash site recorded on this website, I would like to hear from you. While my main area of interest is WWII era aircraft, with a Michigan connection, there are also plans to visit other out-of-state aircraft wrecks, historic airfields and other such things. I am somewhat jealous of my brethren in the western states who, because of the vast and remote land areas with little population, seem to get bigger, more "recognizable" crash sites.
As you peruse this website you will notice the tremendous amount of information for my very first "wreckchase," the Porcupine Mountains B-17. When I created that website, I had alot of gigabytes to use up. It was, after all, an entire website! I also, really thought that would be the only one I ever did. As my first, it is dearest to my heart. Alas, with the new and improved website each aircraft will only have a single page dedicated to it, a consice history......rest assurred that I have the same amount of research/information on each crash site as I did for the first one, I'm just giving you the most interesting facts.
If you would like to visit any of these sites please note: I will not give out coordinates or exact directions. Some of these sites are on private property, ALWAYS SEEK PERMISSION from a landowner before conducting any search. Sites on public lands are subject to many different laws depending on the land agency in charge…..KNOW THESE LAWS before venturing out. In most cases crash sites are protected areas and are not to be disturbed. In addition, metal detecting is legislated on most public lands. To get started, I would recommend the forums at wreckchasing.com, there are very friendly and knowledgeable people who frequent the message board, they are always eager to help. That is always my first stop for research. Check out the AAIR website to order crash reports.
My seat in the nose at landing
Lastly, I would like to dedicate this website to my grandfather and all those who have served this country, and to the memories of those who lost their lives in that service.