Tag Archives: airplane

Thunder Mountain Crash

A de Havilland Beaver (DHC-2), flying out of Talkeetna on a flight seeing tour of Denali National Park, tragically crashed near the summit of Thunder Mountain on August 4. The crash site is roughly 14 miles from Denali’s peak.

There were four tourists from Poland on board, as well as the pilot. Initially, word spread that several people on board survived the crash, but that is not the case. All five in the de Havilland perished.

Heavy cloud cover hampered efforts to reach the site in the days right after the crash. The National Park Service eventually was able to send out two crews in helicopters. The first was to check for survivors, and the second was to evaluate the scene for possible recovery. Park rangers were dropped by cable to the broken Beaver, which lay precariously on the mountain side.

After accessing the risk, The National Park Service came to the conclusion Friday, that any attempt to recover the five bodies in the plane would put the rescue crews in too much danger. One look at the photos show why. The Beaver is broken behind the wing, and the tail section is pulling the entire plane down. It’s a 3500 foot drop to the glacier below. Since the crash, 30 inches of snow has fallen, driving up the risk of avalanche.

On Friday, I spent some time downtown, and overheard several tourists complain about the NPS decision. I get why they thought that way, but I respectfully disagree. The risk to a recovery crew would be too great, and as tough as it is to hear it, NPS made the right call.

Photos credit: Denali National Park & Preserve

Sky Trail

Winter Sky Trail

“Swamp Ghost” Tour

Swamp Ghost
The “Swamp Ghost” at rest in Papua New Guinea

In February of 1942, a B17E Flying Fortress, with its crew of 9 men, crash landed in a swamp in Papua New Guinea, after it ran out of fuel. The crew survived, and over the next 6 weeks, made it to safety. Eventually, they were reassigned and flew additional bomber missions in other planes for the duration of the war.

This Flying Fortress was rediscovered in 1972 by a group of Australian soldiers. They found is partially submerged in a swamp, but “eerily untouched”. According to the soldiers, the machine guns were still in place and loaded, and a thermos of (rather strong) coffee was still in the cockpit. At this time, the old bomber was christened “Swamp Ghost” by the locals.

After years of negotiations between a salvage team and the government of Papua New Guinea, the “Swamp Ghost” has finally returned home to Hawaii.

The "Swamp Ghost" in Hawaii
The “Swamp Ghost” at the Pacific Aviation Museum

The Flying Fortress, which is riddled with 121 bullet holes, can now be toured at the Pacific Aviation Museum at Ford Island, Hawaii. The museum describes the “Swamp Ghost” as “the world’s only intact and unretired World War II B-17E bomber”, complete with its battle scars.

That is a tour I would go on.

Photos courtesy of the Pacific Aviation Museum

Owl’s Head Transportation Museum

Owl's Head logo

On our second run up to Maine, we stopped by the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum, which was well worth the price of admission. Owl’s Head is a working museum, which means that besides the stuffed horse and the rather small bull moose, the collection is all in working order.

Faster: The Quest for Speed

One of the exhibits was Faster: The Quest for Speed. The exhibit will be on hand through 2016.

1915 Duesenberg “Benedict Special” Indy Team Car
The “Benedict Special”, a 1915 Indy team car and the second oldest Duesenberg.

1954 Fabulous Hudson Hornet
My 1954 Fabulous Hudson Hornet


'36 Bomber Coupe
Dick McCabe’s ’36 Chevy Coupe Bomber

1932 Harley Davidson 32-V
1932 Harley Davidson 32-V

1917 Fokker Triplane
1917 Fokker DR.I Triplane

A 1917 SPAD XIIIC.I The SPAD is forever linked with American WWI Ace Eddie Rickenbacker. The SPAD was also the plane that Hobey Baker was flying when he crashed and lost his life.

1923 Fokker C.IVa
1923 Fokker C.IVa Biplane. This particular Fokker attempted a Trans-Pacific flight via Alaska and the Aleutian Chain. It made it to Vancouver. The Fokker Bi-plane in general had a rich history in Alaska’s pre-statehood days.