Sunday, February 24, 2008

Desert Vista

Tihs just in from my bro', Chris: "Here're some desert shots for ya'!

I went out by myself today looking for a WWII airplane crash site. Near Big Horn Peak (20 miles northwest of Tonopah off I-10). Was a big T-6 radial trainer out of Luke Air Force Base on a night navigation mission , 14 March 1945. Pilot got trapped in this box canyon and crashed - he didn't survive.

Closest I could get to it in the truck was 2.5 miles over 4-wheel drive roads. Hiking in, I had to cross numerous deep gullies and ravines. The last one below the crash site was like the autobahn with 80-100 foot cliffs on either side.

Neatest thing was the huge cholla cactus ("jumping cactus") forest I had to cross. It was a half-mile wide & long. I have so many cholla thorns in my boots it'll take me an hour to pull them all out! I havent seen a cholla forest this thick before. See the photo and you'll know what I mean.

Big Horn Peak looks more like a Big Hoof to me.... But it is very stark and ominous -- shoots out of the desert floor straight up. It is so steep I could barely keep my footing. The upper half is just pure cliffs. You can see it easily from I-10 west of Tonopah on the way to L.A.

The airplane appears to have impacted in a slight, level climb, actually impacting twice, then flipping over off with it's nose inverted. He was 400-500+ feet from clearing the mountains and didn't have a chance.

Must've been a moonless night..." Big Horn Peak. The Cholla Forest. Crash site. The final resting place for this airman. Close-up of wreckage.


Veronica said...

I could only imagine two things
First that hike would kill me in the heat
Second.... what a horrible way to go. So sad