Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The CIA's Death Valley Albatross (Part 1)

The Descent
(GPS: N36 24.610 W117 19.430)
This is actually a continuation of the recent entries, but I got tired of writing the same titles for another three parts. So I decided to give this a different title for the last three parts of this series.

Before I continue, let me give a link to read the historical account of why this plane is here. It is good reading and gives a better explanation than I can on the crash. Please click this highlighted paragraph for the ALBATROSS ARTICLE.

If you read the article, you will notice in the second to last paragraph it mentions it is very dangerous to do the hike, and not suggested. Apparently, you can see the aircraft from some part of the highway. I would only suggest this hike to a person who is in shape, can deal with warm Death Valley weather, and, very important, can deal with scrambling on scree. I don't enjoy walking on scree.

After having the minor victory of getting to Towne Peak in good time we descended to our final destination.

It took us another hour and fifteen minutes to get to the aircraft. We reached the plane at around 8:45am. The final 150 feet to get to the plane is rather rough. It's a scree slope and you do have to be careful going down or you might really go down. My brother said he had a close call in an area where he lost his trekking pole.
The aircraft is rather intact considering the circumstances. It was a miracle that the craft is still here and not completely destroyed. One of the engines of the twin engine aircraft is what caused the problems and resulted in the crash. Here is one of the engines slightly attached, but mostly on the ground. You might be able to see some of the propeller.
Moving around this area above the aircraft was very difficult.
I was tired. I felt good, but there wasn't any rest here for me. I started shooting pictures and using my camcorder right away. The following area was difficult to descend through so I had to go slowly.

Keep in mind I did all of this twice. Once for the camera and once for the camcorder.
The underside! Notice the little "hill" I have to go over to get to it.
In the next entry I will show some of the inside of the aircraft and the tail.

(Edit: I did this hike again in 2014. I took a video of it which can be found here: Hunting a Bird in Death Valley)