The Legend of the Buried Bombers

By: Jason Aubry Email
By: Jason Aubry Email

Legend has it, the military buried up to 12 B-24 and B-17 bombers near the airfield that would become the Pueblo Memorial Airport, right before they turned it over to the city of Pueblo.

The air base was used as a flight-training site for the B-24 Liberator and other bombers. Today, less than a handful of B-24's are capable of flying, and less than 30 still exist in the world. This versatile aircraft was used by nearly every branch of the military. However, when World War II ended, that usefulness quickly faded.

Back then, when an air base was closed, a few things were guaranteed to be shipped out, such as ammunition, guns, and paperwork. But large equipment, such as tanks, jeeps, even aircraft were often buried in large holes, unless there was a crew available to drive or fly the larger equipment off the base. Burying planes and tanks was a common practice at the time, and was heavily used at bases overseas.

Over the years, stories of buried planes at the Pueblo airport have been told and re-told to family members and volunteers at the Aircraft Museum. Until recently, some thought they were only stories.

Three years ago, former Pueblo County Sheriff's Deputy Joe Musso began volunteering at the museum. He, too, dismissed the stories as urban myth until he started hearing them more frequently. As more out-of-town visitors shared their stories, he noticed similarities too numerous to be coincidence. His former profession kicked in and he began investigating the matter.

Since Musso began his investigation, he's become certain that something has been left behind, buried by the military. But he isn't the first to look into the legend of the buried bombers. Back in the 1980s a magnometer was used to survey the airfield and surrounding areas. It was supposed to give searchers an idea of the metallic resonance of the area and possibly pinpoint large buried planes. At the time the magnometer turned up little usable information. Musso says it's because the version they were using wasn't right for the job.

According to Musso, the Navy-supplied magnometer was designed to find submarines under water, and he doesn't believe it would pick up the aluminum-covered B-17's that some think could be up to 12 feet underground.

Now, Musso and others are gathering old topographical maps in an attempt to identify areas where natural rain water runoff paths have been altered. Specifically, during the time periods right before and after the military turned over the air base. Musso's hypothesis is that new rain runoffs should limit potential search areas because no planes have been unearthed by the running water; meanwhile old runoffs that suddenly disappear could indicate something had been buried and then covered, forcing the water to find a new path.

In addition to researching the maps, Musso is hoping more people will come forward if they have information about the buried planes. He would really like someone who participated in the burial of one of the planes to come forward and show them where it was done. If enough data can be collected, there is a chance the museum could receive the donation of special equipment that would allow them to penetrate the ground with radar. Radar would be able to give them an actual picture of what's beneath the soil.

Another legend tied to the buried bombers, is that of the buried bunkers. In this tale, the military buried several bunkers near the airfield without collapsing them. Inside the bunkers are thought to be up to a dozen plane engines, still in their unopened boxes. A find of this magnitude could be considered priceless, as there are few planes still operating that require these engines and parts.

Still, Musso and the rest could all just be chasing their tails, hoodwinked by an urban legend. He accepts this possibility, but doesn't believe it's the case. "It may be a wild goose chase. It may be a treasure hunt. But it's worth it, because if we do find it, then we find a piece of American history," says Musso.

Whether the legends turn out to be true or not doesn't matter to Mark Lovin, the current Director of Aviation at the airport. "If nothing else, we learn a lot about the facility and how it was managed and how it was operated," says Lovin. "And those are great stories of young men who are going to war."

Anyone with information about the location of buried planes or bunkers near the airport is asked to contact the Aircraft Museum at 719-821-3352.


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