Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hike to an A-4 Skyhawk Crash Site

I spent yesterday on an adventure in the Mojave desert to find the crash site of an A-4 Skyhawk.
Joined by my friend Steve, we drove to Pisgah Crater and parked near a lonely building on Route 66. I didn't know the exact location of this crash site, but I'd deduced it using clues from other Internet posts and Google Earth imagery.
Here's a Google Map centered on the crash site. The crash occurred on a large lava field that was very rugged - ok, mostly it was very jagged and sharp. We hiked around for what seemed like hours watching the damage to our boots accumulate. I must have stubbed my toes a hundred times.
The photos show how rugged the landscape is, making progress very slow in places. Finally, we used our hand held GPS receivers to guide us to the coordinates where I spotted white spots in the Google imagery.
After reaching each rise on the landscape we failed to find anything. I was ready to give up. Then Steve spotted some unnatural objects that turned out to be wooden crates. That's when we came upon a depression containing large pieces of debris from the crash.
We saw what appeared to be an impact crater. The crater side showed the rocks and dirt below the lava surface. Several of the pieces of debris are pretty large, and they all have sharp edges so we were very careful.

The weather was perfect. Clear blue sky. Hardly any wind. Temperature around 65F. According to my GPS receiver, we wandered around for 4.2 miles total. You can see from our route map that we didn't return the same way we came. The lava is so rough, there was no "easier" path. During our return, the Sun was setting and we were anxious to get off the lava before it got dark so we headed northeast to the nearest edge of the lava field and back to desert sand.

Warning: This hike is not for everybody, and certainly not for kids. If you go there, then take leather gloves, since this makes it a lot easier to balance yourself against the sharp lava without scraping your skin off. Also, you will absolutely need a GPS receiver and the crash site coordinates, otherwise it's almost impossible to find the site.

1 comment:

brockevan said...

Good find, thank you for posting!