Mystery of buried WWII plane revealed

Feb 20, 2013
Courtesy of: Tim Manna This map shows the location where the P-40 Kittyhawk World War II aircraft was found buried in the sands of the Egyptian desert.

A World War II P-40 Kittyhawk was discovered in the middle of the Egyptian desert last summer. The fate of the pilot and the tale of how the aircraft came to be there has been a mystery – until now.

The Historic Flight Foundation in Mukilteo will host “Recovering the Egyptian P-40 Kittyhawk” at noon on Saturday, Feb. 23 at its hangar located at 10719 Bernie Webber Dr.

On Saturday, Tim Manna of the Royal Air Force Museum will reveal the latest details on the circumstances of the crash and clues as to the fate of the pilot during his presentation.

In June of 2012, an intrepid group of recovery experts lead by Manna ventured into the Egyptian desert to recover a P-40 Kittyhawk buried in sand for 70 years.

Manna will tell the tale of 125-degree temperatures and other challenges he and his group faced, as well as the poignant story of the pilot apparently killed in the crash.

Plans for display of the Kittyhawk have not yet been announced but may involve a touring exhibit to aviation museums, including HFF.

In the period preceding the crash, Luftwaffe fighters made daily advances in the campaign for Cairo. On the day of the crash, the pilot, Flt. Sgt. Copping, received a "bollocking" from the squadron commanding officer for "breaking" the airplane.

He was ordered to fly the aircraft east to a maintenance facility for repairs but instead set out to the south. Another pilot took off to chase him and attempt to get him to turn to the correct course, but despite making contact with Copping's aircraft and breaking radio silence, he was unable to persuade him to turn.

Copping flew on into the desert, ignoring or forgetting the advice that when lost, pilots should fly north to the Mediterranean. Eventually, he ran out of gas and made a wheels-up landing in the desert.

Other HFF events:

Feb. 22 – National Warbird Operators Conference

Feb. 23-24 – Northwest Aviation Trade Show and Conference at Puyallup Fairgrounds

March 2, 2 p.m. – Inaugural HFF Flight of DC-3 N877MG, featuring a champagne toast and period fare

March 9 – Seasonal test flights and B-25 member rides

March 23, noon – “Duck Hunting in Greenland,” the story of locating a WWII Grumman Duck and the plans for its recovery by Lou Sapienza

For more information, call the Historic Flight Foundation at 425-348-3200, email or go to

-Edited by Beacon staff

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