Grandparents have all sorts of crazy stories that the rest of their families usually just roll their eyes at, but sometimes those tall tales aren’t so crazy after all. When a 14-year-old Danish boy needed to do a school project on World War II, his dad jokingly recalled a story his grandfather had told him about a German fighter plane that crashed on the family farm in 1944.
Thing is, the 14-year-old actually found it — and the body inside.
The father-son duo of Klaus and Daniel Kristiansen weren’t expecting to find an 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 four meters down into the Earth they 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 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!”