12 May 2012

'Timewarp' plane discovered in desert

1:50 pm on 12 May 2012

More than six decades after it came down in the Egyptian desert, a World War II British RAF fighter plane has been found almost intact.

The pilot, Flt Sgt Dennis Copping, went missing over the Western Desert in June 1942, flying an American-made P40 Kittyhawk single-engine fighter plane.

Two-and-a-half months ago an aircraft believed to be his was discovered near remote Wadi al-Jadid by a Polish oil worker, Jakub Perka.

The BBC reports the original paintwork and RAF insignia are said to be clearly visible, almost perfectly preserved in the dry desert air.

It appears the pilot executed a near-perfect emergency landing and to have survived the crash.

He rigged a parachute as an awning and removed the aircraft's radio and batteries but then apparently walked off into the desert in search of help.

However he stood virtually no chance of survival at more than 100 kilometres from the nearest settlement. The British embassy says it is planning to mount a search for his remains.

RAF Museum in north London is hoping to recover the plane as soon as possible.

David Keen, an aviation historian at the museum, said what makes this particular aircraft so special is that it looks complete, and it survived on the surface of the desert all these years. "It's like a timewarp," he told the BBC.

There are fears souvenir hunters will start stripping it.