Some time in 1942, a lone Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk bearing the 260 Squadron “HS” squadron code and the aircraft letter “B” settled down over a wide and remote expanse of North African sand desert called Al Wadi al Jadid. Perhaps low on fuel, perhaps lost, or with mechanical problems, the RAF pilot chose to land in the vast North African Sahara. With his landing gear locked down, he flared low over the sand and settled onto it. The gear snapped off, the desert camouflaged P-40 collapsed onto its belly and slid for a hundred meters or more shedding its radiators and propeller hub.
After coming to a stop, the pilot exited the aircraft, closed the canopy and disappeared into the sands of history. The aircraft itself would remain undiscovered for seven decades, perhaps for much of it covered by the sands of time, or perhaps just so far out of the way that it was not seen or at least reported until March of 2012, when an oil exploration team came across the wreck in Egypt.
Was the pilot injured? Was his wing man circling overhead when he went down? Was he rescued? Or was he lost far into the desert with no witness to his demise. Did he languish near the downed aircraft awaiting rescue? Did the pilot survive the incident and the war? Has a mystery been solved or does the story have a record? There are many questions that will be answered in the weeks and months ahead when squadron diaries and records are scanned for the crash or missing aircraft report.
Now that every news agency is mentioning Flight Sergeant Dennis Copping’s name, we will now put it in this article. We have know since we first put this story out that is was most certainly Copping, a 24 year old son of a British dentist who went missing while ferrying this aircraft in 1942. Stocky Edwards mentions Copping in his book Kittyhawk Pilot. There are now rumours that the RAF and the Brits will try to find Copping’s remains. This will undoubtedly be a difficult task.
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