Woman Joins Mountain Trek to Her Great Uncle's Long Lost WW2 Plane

A woman went on an expedition up Mount Kenya after her great-uncle's plane was finally discovered 79 years since it crashed during WWII.

Monet Izabeth, from Massachusetts, said she was told about the discovery via an out of the blue Facebook message.

She was given permission to join a British Army trek up the mountain, which at 5,199m is the second-highest in Africa after Kilimanjaro.

Izabeth is now sharing her incredible "real-life Indiana Jones adventure" online.

Speaking in a series of TikTok clips detailing the trip, she said: "I went up with the British Army up Mount Kenya on an expedition to rediscover my uncle's long lost plane crash from WWII. He went MIA. No one knew what happened to him."

According to The War Graves Photographic Project, Izabeth's great-uncle, Air Sergeant Simon Eliastam of the South African Air Force, was flying a Bristol Blenheim on a navigational training mission.

Eliastam, who was stationed in Kenya for training, and three SAAF colleagues never returned after setting out on July 23rd 1942, the day after his 21st birthday.

Over the past few months Izabeth has been documenting the trips she's taken out to the plane since its discovery, with her videos amassing millions of views.

In an update shared last week, she said: "So the experts say he probably didn't even see the mountain coming. He probably died on impact in the fire that would have happened right when the plane hit the mountainside. In the infinite amount of possibilities that could have happened, maybe he survived the crash and then lived on the mountain for a little bit afterwards."

Following the 1942 crash the plane lay undiscovered for more than seven decades, with the next chapter in the remarkable story taking place in 2002, when a jungle logger happened across the crash site.

The following year the British Army sent an expedition out to the site, with The War Graves Project explaining: "A British Army expedition was dispatched to the forest, dug out the remains of the four and placed them in plastic bags under the wing of their Bristol Blenheim bomber."

But it wasn't until 14 years later that Izabeth and her family were contacted about the find - when she received the shock Facebook message - and she was allowed to join the expedition planned to go and retrieve the remains.

Izabeth flew out to Kenya and joined the team, and trekked for days up the mountain's south side, before stumbling across the wreckage at around 9,000ft.

In one of her videos, she said: "The north side of Mount Kenya has well established trails—that's usually how people climb the mountain. But the south side is much steeper. Here you can see us going through some really thick vegetation, there are a lot of thorns in these bushes that hurt."

Izabeth, who went on a second trip out to the crash site in 2019, explained the team didn't have a precise location after documents relating to the original 2002 find were lost.

"We learned the British Army really didn't think we were going to find the plane, because they had a vague idea where the plane was. We were going off of a pin hole in a map that had been hanging in a captain's office. That's the only information that they had left for where the plane was," she explained.

After a fruitless search and with their water supplies dwindling, they abandoned the mission and turned around to head back to base, when they stumbled across the wreckage by accident.

In a video which has racked up more than eight million views, Izabeth shared photos and footage of their party examining the wreckage.

She said: "Here is the plane crash. That is the plane after we'd dug it out quite a bit. This is Henry's hand touching a full lightbulb that we found on a piece of wreckage."

But by the time Izabeth and the party reached the site, more than a decade since its initial discovery, the remains were nowhere to be found.

In one of her videos, she shared stills of their party "digging for remains" under the wing.

As no remains were able to be recovered, the team brought back soil from the site, and each family was given a sample for personal burial.

The War Graves Photographic Project revealed a special memorial was held at Nanyuki War Cemetery for the four servicemen, with Eliastam originally commemorated on Alamein memorial.

They said: "A memorial service was held for the 4 crew and the headstones erected at Nanyuki as "Special Memorials" stating that the crew are still buried on Mount Kenya."

Speaking to The Jewish Chronicle after they were first notified of the discovery, Izabeth's father, Dr Michael Eliastam, said he was "stunned and became emotional. I still am. I still choke up thinking about it. It feels a little bit like delayed mourning. I think they knew he'd crashed, but they always thought he'd walk through the door one day. To my mother he was the perfect brother, she adored him and then he was gone."

A Bristol Blenheim bomber and her crew
1940: A Bristol Blenheim bomber and her crew. A woman went on an expedition to locate her great-uncle's plane crash after he went MIA in WWII. Fox Photos/Getty Images