Trail Crew Finds A Crashed WWII Training Plane
By Andrew, on Sat, Sep 03, 2016
It's not every day you stumble into a hidden piece of history, but our Trail Crew did just that while out cutting winter lines through the woods.
|**WATCH THE WCAX FULL VIDEO ON OUR TRAIL CREW'S DISCOVERY OF A CRASHED WWII PLANE**|
About two-thirds of the way up Valhalla, Trail Crew Supervisor, Derek Bond remembers seeing metal remains, while working Trail Crew last summer.
"We thought it was old logging equipment, so this year we decided to take a second look," Bond recalls.
After a brief search, he and his crew relocated the metal debris, and upon closer inspection quickly realized that they were looking at parts from an old plane.
Using the photos provided by Bond, along with the help of local historian, Scott Wheeler and aviation enthusiast, John Laskas, we traced the plane back roughly to the 1940s, and to the best of our knowledge can identify it as a variation of the Avro Anson. The original Mk.1 was built in 1936 as a British airliner, then quickly adapted for WWII maritime reconnaissance and training in the Royal Air Force (RAF). Later versions (the Mark II and V) were built in Canada and primarily flown by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as twin-engine trainers.
Aside from the plane's general history, this plane's past is possibly tied to the true, local story of a 1943 military plane crash that left four Canadian airmen stranded on the peak in the middle of a winter storm, and their heroic rescue by some local legends. We'll let Scott Wheeler take it from here.
"Military Airplane Slams into Jay Peak in 1943"
Scott Wheeler/ Publisher VT's Vermont's Northland Journal
Duane Lucier of Jay was in school on November 10, 1943, when a snow squall swept over the forested peak of Jay Peak. Little did he or any of his classmates know that the squall would turn to horror for the crew of four aboard a Royal Canadian Air Force plane.
“The plane hit almost dead center in the middle of the mountain flying east,” Lucier recalled. “It hit near the top.”
The four men aboard the plane were injured in the crash. One of the injured airmen found his way down the mountain, reaching the home of David Kinnett. An extensive search and rescue mission was pursued.
At the time of the crash Lucier was 12 or 13 years old. His uncle, Graham Lucier, was instrumental in leading the rescuers, including Dr. C.D. Rublee, to the accident scene.
“He was in World War I and he was a farmer,” Duane Lucier said, remembering his uncle.
Accompanying Graham Lucier and the other rescuers up the mountain that day was Graham’s son, Richard “Dick” Lucier (who later became a prominent character at the Jay Peak Ski area when the mountain gave birth to the ski area a bit more than a decade after the plane crash. He became known as “Mountain Dick, one of the many people who kept the trails in good condition and the lifts operating.”).
Rescuers were too late to save the live of airman David Wright Johnston of Glasgow, Scotland. The other three airmen survived their injuries.
Lucier said if he recalls correctly his uncle was honored by the Royal Canadian Air Force for the part he played in the rescue effort. He seems to recall that his uncle was awarded a commendation and a flight jacket.
Without a doubt, the day that the airplane slammed into the side of Jay shook up the tiny community of Jay and helped transform a farmer into a true hero.
AVRO ANSON MK.1
Avro Anson Mk. II in flight (RCAF of the Canadian Aviation Preservation Association)
Avro Anson Mk II parked (photo credit: Maynard Norby)
Avro 652A Anson student pilots training in Canada, WWII (RAF Photo)
RCAF bombardier sight with the bomb release held in right hand, Nov 9th, 1940. (Library and Archives Canada)
Avro Anson Mk. V cockpit, October 16, 1943. (Library and Archives Canada)
Commonwealth airmen studying a map before RCAF's Avro Anson flight training. (Library and Archives Canada)
Commonwealth airmen, and a line of Avro Ansons (Library and Archives Canada)
Mark V twin-engine Avro Anson bomber trainer (adapted for Canadian conditions) of the RCAF, redesigned as a non-combat, flying classroom (Library and Archives Canada)