Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM
MAGNETOMETER SURVEY FOR A CRASHED WORLD WAR II B-29 BOMBER IN RUSSELL COUNTY, KANSAS: AN EXAMPLE OF COMMUNITY OUTREACH
During World War II, a large number of airfields in Kansas trained B-29 bomber crews. On April 28, 1945, one of these crews experienced an engine fire during a routine training mission to Walker Army Air Force Base (Walker, KS) and bailed out of the plane. One member of the air crew died when his parachute failed to open and the plane crashed in a wheat field five miles southeast of Russell, KS. At the request of Mr. Phil Schulz, a local historian in the process of developing a regional museum dedicated to those who served at Walker Airfield, the Department of Geosciences at Fort Hays State University agreed to conduct a geophysical survey to determine if any aircraft material at the crash site was buried when the plane impacted the ground. An engine of the plane was uncovered during the drilling of an oil well within the crash site and it was hoped that similar material would be uncovered and become part of an exhibit at the new museum being developed.
The crash site was re-discovered based on the discovery of the engine along with additional artifacts brought to the surface through frost heaving and the Army Air Force crash report. We established a grid measuring 90m by 120m and conducted the survey using a Geometrics G-858, cesium vapor, optically pumped, magnetometer. The data was analyzed using Surface 7.0 and Grapher 1.3 software programs. Analysis revealed one small anomaly at the center of our survey grid and the anomaly was estimated to be buried 3.0m below the sensor of the magnetometer. When excavated, the anomaly was discovered to be a piece of the plane's fuselage. This project is important because it demonstrates the type of collaborative partnerships that can develop between university geoscience departments and the surrounding community.