Stormy Weather - emergency landing in 1944
24 May 1944, at 14:25, a B-17G makes an emergency landing near Skærtoft and Myrholm, at Nørreskoven Als, with the pilot and co-pilot on board.
The B-17G bomber, also known as the "Flying Fortress", has taken off from Polebrook Air Base in England. Stormy Weather, which belongs to the 351st Bomb Group, 8th U.S. Air Force, is acting as the lead aircraft on a bombing raid on Berlin.
Despite some engine difficulties shortly before Berlin, the crew successfully completes the bombing run, but on the return trip, two of the four engines fail. The pilot hands over command to a similar aircraft and continues home towards the base when the third engine is hit by FLAK (German anti-aircraft artillery - Flugabwehrkanone) fire over Helgoland. The pilot now changes course and makes every effort to reach Sweden and neutral ground, but mistakes the area and turns in over the island of Als.
The third engine stalls, the aircraft loses even more altitude and the pilot orders the crew to parachute out. Back on board, the pilot and co-pilot now try to find a suitable place to make an emergency landing for one engine. There are no flat areas and the emergency landing occurs in a low-lying field near the forest, Nørreskoven Als, it is so violent that the aircraft is jerked over behind the wings, so the other eight crew members would probably not have made it through unscathed.
The pilot, Captain Robert B. Clay and co-pilot, 1st Lieutenant Frank Hatten survive the landing and head for Myrholm, where they are met by Peter Clausen and his wife Marie. They don't speak English, but still manage to make them understand that this is unfortunately not neutral Sweden they have crashed over, but German-occupied Denmark. Frank Hatten is the only one who is injured, during the emergency landing he has been sitting with his head out of the plane's window to help steer and he get's the ugly cut on his forehead washed.
Unlike many other planes that crash in the area around Als and Sundeved, the crew members of Stormy Weather survive. They were imprisoned in the German camp Stalag III and were able to return to America after the end of World War II.
The memorial to Stormy Weather features a propeller from a similar aircraft and was unveiled at a commemorative event in 2004. Flowers are laid on the anniversary of the crash landing.
The crew of Stormy Weather:
Capt. Robert Blaine Clay, USAAF (pilot)
1st Lt. Frank Hatten, USAAF, (co-pilot)
1st.Lt. Marshall Ray Pullen, USAAF (navigator)
1st Lt. George Walker Arnold, USAAF (bomber)
T/Sgt. Charles Bernard Jilcott, USAAF (aeronautical engineer and top turret gunner)
T/Sgt. Frank Heward Belsinger, USAAF (radio operator and gunner)
S/Sgt. Daniel Harvey Surprise, USAAF (left side gunner)
S/Sgt. Franklin Leroy Travis, USAAF (right side gunner)
S/Sgt. Michael De'Marie, USAAF (ball turret gunner)
1st.Lt. James Hareld Wimmer, USAAF (rear gunner)