A Danish boy who was stuck for a subject for his history homework ended up unearthing a crashed German wartime fighter plane and the bones of its pilot.
The father-son duo of Klaus and Daniel Kristiansen weren’t expecting to find a ME 109 Messerschmitt plane buried underground in a field on their property in Birkelse, Denmark. Klaus Kristiansen told Danish news station DR P4 Nordjylland that they’d taken a metal detector out to the fields as a lark, not seriously expecting to find a downed plane. His grandfather had said that something had crashed in November of 1944, but even if that were true, he assumed the wreckage would’ve been removed at some point during the following decades.
When they ran the detector over a bog-like area of the field, it started going off like crazy. They borrowed an excavator from a neighbor and after digging 4 meters down into the Earth, uncovered thousands of pieces of metal and a twisted engine. They also discovered Luftwaffe rations, and parts of the long-dead pilot’s body, along with some personal effects.
They alerted authorities, and explosive experts were on hand as they uncovered the plane. Forensic police are trying to identify the pilot so that his body can be returned to his descendants. A museum took on some of the other memorabilia.
The Messerschmitt Bf 109, which was first introduced in 1939, was one of the more advanced fighters of the era, and even saw lots of use even as the jet age kicked off. It was a crucial part of the Luftwaffe’s fleet, and it’s unknown what caused this particular plane to crash on the Kristiansen’s farm.
“He was telling a lot of stories, my grandfather. Some of them were not true, and some of them were true – but this one was true,” the elder Kristiansen told BBC News “Maybe I should have listened to him a bit more when he was alive!”