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Hi Desert Warrior

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 #46 
Last weekend had a nice surprise.  About 3 PM saw a B-1 Bomber with two Osprey escorts fly over the Steele Pass, the peace sign, and on to Grapevine pass.  I was soaking in the Volcano pool and didn't have time to run back to the car to get my camcorder.  Rats! 
Hi Desert Warrior

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 #47 
Two years ago, last September.  I was soaking in the Wizard pool with two other people.  About 9 PM while facing the Inyo Mountains I saw two craft flying above the mountains on the west side of the same.  They were traveling one in front of the other going from north to south and I thought they were jets.  Until they stopped and hovered, my next thought was they were helicopters.  Then I realized each craft was about two football fields long and I know we had no aircraft that big.  Both craft were identical, they had a large fuzzy green light forward and a fuzzy red light aft.  In the center were two bright sharply defined white lights.  I told and pointed out the crafts to the two people in the pool and their comment was they were helicopters and went back to their conversations.  I watched the crafts for about 10 minutes when the forward craft started to move forward and climb at a 7% rate until it was above the highest mountain peak then stopped.  About another ten minutes passed then the highest craft above the Inyo's turned off all its lights.  I thought it was strange as they were in violation of night flying safety standards.  Then a very short time later, the second craft started to descend behind the mountains and out of sight.  I left the pool and returned to my car for the night.  I don't sleep in a tent for safety reasons and sleep in my car so the coyotes and burros won't get me.  I woke up about 1 AM and looked out the front window and saw one of the craft, that I had seen earlier, hovering near Willow Creek.  Below it was bright lights on the ground reflecting toward the craft.  But the craft was high enough that the reflected lights did not show the outline of the craft.  The ground lights were the color of your normal street lights a soft gold color..  After watching it for about 5 minutes I went back to sleep.  I woke up again about 4 AM and looked out the front window and the craft was gone.  I sat up and reached down to my feet where I keep my bottled water to get a drink and saw the craft, again.  This time it was hovering over Steele Pass with the same ground lights glowing beneath it.  After a few minutes, I again went back to sleep.  When I woke up at daylight, the craft was gone and I packed up and headed home.  I have no idea what these craft were or where they came from.  They were far bigger than any aircraft that I am aware of and their lights didn't conform to any standard aircraft lighting.  They must have had a landing party on the ground with very bright lighting equipment.  Since China Lake is not far away and is known to test super secret aircraft.  They could have came from there or from Area 51.  Every time I return to the springs I bring my camcorder with a 700 power scope in hopes of seeing them again.  So far, I haven't seen them since.  But I will still keep looking and hoping.
SilverBob

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 #48 
I wasn't at the springs when the crash you're describing took place, but I did arrive shortly thereafter, while the wreckage was being loaded onto a flatbed trailer for removal.  I don't recall any real investigation taking place, a bunch of guys just showed up and gathered it up and left.  That leads me to believe that it was probably not a rental plane, since the Insurance company would never pay out without an NTSB investigation.  Could have been someone who didn't want any publicity, and could afford to sweep it under the rug.  Who knows?  Karma's a bitch, though, isn't she? [biggrin]

Incidentally, all civil airplane crashes that are reported to the NTSB are investigated and are considered public information. Factual and Probable Cause reports are published as soon as all the information is gathered.  If you have a lot of free time on your hands, here's a link to the NTSB database, searchable by month.  There's also an advanced search option that allows you to narrow your search based on several criteria.

http://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/month.aspx 

Info on military crashes is a little harder to find, especially now that so many bases are now closed and all their records have been transferred elsewhere.  Old newspaper stories are usually a good source of info, as long as you realize that many of the facts in them are wrong. (some things never change, eh?)  It's all part of the challenge for a history buff!


As for the McElvoy Canyon wreck being a glider, I guess it could have been.  It must have been a really old one, though.  The spar was solid wood, whereas every glider wing I've ever seen was made of laminated plywood for light weight.  We'll probably never know.  I do remember reading a news article on microfilm in the library in Independence that described the crash of a "former long distance race plane" near the salt flat in Saline Valley.  Now I have a reason to go back and dig deeper!

Hi Desert Warrior

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 #49 
My guess is that BLM must have removed the wreckage sometime later as there is no traces of it now at the chicken strip.  Silver Bobs last posting has a web site that is interesting to visit.  The list is not complete but good at that.  Even my book on crashes is very good but dosn't have the one at grapevine listed.  One story I would like to pass on that is not related to Saline.  I worked in the movie industry for some time and one day while working on a movie I was talking to a Los Angeles County Fireman Safety Officer, on the set.  Talk came around to plane crashes in the San Gabriel Mountains.  He said a few years back there was a brush fire on the slopes of Mt. Wilson and they were able to stop it before it reached the communication site on top.  The fire had burned away all the bushes and exposed a crashed AT-6 Trainer that had been missing for many years.  About 20 feet away was human remains, thought to be the pilot.  The county coroner took charge of the remains and discovered the remains were not the pilot but a Native American that had died over 200 years ago.  The pilot remains were never found.  This plane was not listed on the list, also.  Enjoyed River Rats information on first hand sighting of the crash at the chicken strip.
RiverRat

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 #50 
I was told? read? that the old wreckage at the mouth of McElvoy Canyon road was a glider that made it over the Inyos but couldn't get back out of the valley.  Don't know details about the landing.

Am I the only one who remembers the overloaded private plane that crashed on takeoff from the Chicken Strip in Spring Break 1987?.  4 guys flew in, tried to land at the old strip, aborted almost too late, clipped the bank on the east end with the landing gear trying to abort, collapsed a strut (?) (something was wrong with the landing gear after landing), circled the salt lake like they were thinking of landing (?) there (or, probably trying to get comfortable with the sudden load in their shorts), came back and landed at the Chicken Strip.  Rude, obnoxious, took all 4 of them to pack their beer/food (mostly beer) cooler out of the plane, oggled the naked women.  Background rumble of karma building.

Couple days drinking, they reloaded the cooler with the remaining beer and ice (sence more karma here?), took all morning to get ready while the air was heating up, finally tried takeoff in late AM.  Plane engine wound up, started off, echoing across the camp, then a WHUMP and silence.  I grabbed my first aid/trauma box and ran, others beat me there.  Pilot tried to take off (too soon? too slow?), stalled, came back down into the wash, clipped a wing on the side of the wash, spun 270 degrees into the other side of the wash and smacked into it.  When I got there, they were out.  Unique color of green and white on some of their faces, the, so to speak, pilot was blustering about legal action against anyone who claimed it was his fault (should be obvious, from the narrative above) and against anyone who took pictures.  I took pictures anyway.

Plane was "broke" (lacking a better description or technical language), back (fusilage?) was broke (kinked), prop was corkscrewed into the bank, wing tips shreaded, wings kinked, tail junk, and so on.  It didn't fly out.  Believe it was a rental plane, pilot wannabe probably had a lot of explaining to do

I believe the old strip was closed as too short, too uneven, and too close to camping.  The Sky Pilot flew right over my camp on his way to clipping the bank on the east.  Moron.

We left the same day, safely, out the North Pass.  Do not know any resolution about this incident

RiverRat
SilverBob

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 #51 
For many years there was an old wooden wing spar with some wire control rigging still attached, laying at the intersection of the MacElvoy Canyon Road and the Saline Valley Road.  I always attributed it to the 1930 crash of an old wooden aircraft, rumored to have been a survivor of the 1927 Dole Derby.  Unfortunately, the big storm that wiped out all the vegetation in MacElvoy Canyon also washed the spar away.  There's no telling where it might be now.  Somewhere, I have a bunch of detailed 35mm pictures I took of it back around 1980 or so, when I thought it might still be identifiable.  I never had any luck tracking it down.

The real "Bamboo Bomber" was the Cessna AT-17.  They weren't built until just before WWII, and the wreck I'm talking about happened sometime in 1930, as documented on this page:  http://www.av.qnet.com/~carcomm/a.htm

I've never heard of an AT-17 crash in Saline.
Hi Desert Warrior

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 #52 
Wow!  Great information on the B-24.  A prized find of the B-24, a first hand account by a very good writer.  Thanks Silver Bob.  By the description of the story the location of the crash site is in the area of the Northwest section of the lake.  Whats the story on the Bamboo Bomber?  Mann shows a picture of what appears to be a landing flap at the salt lake.
SilverBob

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 #53 
"So, I wonder where  the late Bill Mann received his information on the B-24."

Apparently from gossip and rumors.  The rest he just made up.  The plane was cut up and removed by salvage crews.  It did NOT sink in the lake bed!

A Google search for "B-24, Saline Valley" will get lots of results, including this one:  http://www.av.qnet.com/~carcomm/wreck29.htm


Hi Desert Warrior

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 #54 
Sparky thank you very much for starting this.  You did what I couldn't do. thanks again.  What I would like to know is-  What is the biggest aircraft to land and take off from the chicken strip?  Has any craft like a Beech Baron or twin engine Cessna used the strip?  Why was the other strip closed?  Was there an accident or BLM involvement?  Or did it involve a hazard for military flyby's?  Bill Mann's book said there is a B-24 in the salt lake and has sunk out of sight.  I wonder if this is true or not.  He stated the crew jetison equiptment before crashing into the lake, which includes the guns.  Too bad the approach to the crash site is not known, As a search of the flight path could locate some interesting artifacts.  It would be nice to know the where about this plane is and how deep.  The crew survived except for one who died before rescue arrived.  Sorry to say my book on crashes in California does not list this plane and the crash site..  So, I wonder where  the late Bill Mann received his information on the B-24.
Sparky of SoCal

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 #55 
http://www.airfields-freeman.com/index.htm

When I start looking at old maps and see strange straight lines I refer here to get some info.
Salt Peter

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 #56 
https://www.backcountrypilot.org/

Lots of info there about...well...back country strips and aviating.
Salt Peter

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 #57 
Love the title!
And go!
Might not be in our precious Saline but it flew over and near it I'm sure...Gamblers Special

Also the Bamboo Bomber came to rest in Saline
Sparky of SoCal

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 #58 
I have enjoyed you guys talking about the different crash sights in the area. I have enjoyed checking some out in the Sierras, Lower Calif Desert, and San Bernardino Mtns. Hoping you guys continue it here before you upset the cart over there.
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