On November 3, 1948, “Over Exposed,” a converted B-29 Superfortress crashed in the Peak District during a routine run to the Burtonwood U.S. Air Force Base near Warrington, Lancashire.
It was to be the crew’s last flight—carrying the payroll and mail to the USAF base—as they had completed their tour of duty and were due back in the United States in three days.
The aircraft itself had a storied history—in 1948, the crew of “Over Exposed”, equipped with 25 cameras (were the cameras attached to the plane or was the crew carrying them?), was tasked with photographing the B-29 “Dave’s Dream” as it dropped an atomic bomb over Bikini Atoll Lagoon during Operation Crossroads; two years later the bomber, refitted and re-assigned to the 16th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, flew missions over Russian-occupied Germany during the Berlin Airlift.
Twenty minutes prior to take off, the captain, 33-year-old Landon P. Tanner, was briefed about broken cloud coverage, and while it remains unclear as to why Captain Tanner did not fly at a sufficient height to clear the moor, it is believed that the pilot who flew over the hills of Bleaklow, hit ground at a little over 2,000 feet above sea level due to poor visibility, writes Atlas Obscura.
When “Over Exposed” failed to arrive at Burtonwood—flight time was approximately 25 minutes—a search was initiated. By chance, members of the Harpur Hill RAF Mountain Rescue Unit were a mere two and a half miles away after having just completed an exercise. First on the scene, it was quickly apparent to the Mountain Rescue Unit that all 13 crewmen had been killed instantly as the plane crashed into the moor. After a two-day recovery mission, all bodies were reclaimed.
Since then, despite the inevitable souvenir hunters, much of the wreckage remains in place and untouched as it did in 1948. Remarkably, in the 1970s, a resident of the nearby town of Hadfield found the wedding ring belonging to Tanner near the crash site—which was eventually returned to his daughter.
In 1988, 40 years on, an official memorial was erected to the 13 crew members who lost their lives that day. Today, the area is a popular hiking site for many locals and tourists alike.