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Pictures of my climb up to an old TWA crash site in the mountains.

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by HKMark23, Sep 5, 2004.

  1. HKMark23

    HKMark23 Millennium Member

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    I just got back from a 2,800 ft climb up to the crash site of a TWA airliner that went down in the Sandia Mountains killing all 16 people aboard.

    The flight went down on 19 Feb 1955 at about 7:10am after taking off from Albuquerque airport for a 20 minute flight to Sante Fe. The plane flew into a small canyon within a canyon that was obscured by clouds. It is quite remote, difficult to find and get to so the wreck is mostly untouched.

    The canyon is only about 130' wide at the top and the floor is only about 40' wide, keep in mind that the plane has a 93' wingspan, is 75' long and weighs over 10 tons. It flew up the canyon at about 250mph when the left wing struck the west wall, the right wing then struck the opposite wall with the fuselage, it came apart scatering as it went up the canyon. The first major part of wreckage is at 9,000' and it continues up the narrow canyon floor to about 9,200' along about a 400' long path. But the whole canyon is littered with parts up and over the top to the next canyon and along the walls you can see small part imbeded in the rocks.

    This is a photo of an identical aircraft from 1959, infact this airframe is 407 and the one that crashed is 416. You will be able to recognize several parts of this aircraft in the crash photos.
    http://www.airliners.net/open.file/099990/M/













    Once at the base of the canyon you have to climb a 20' wall, then you push your way through the dense trees & brush when suddenly this is the first thing you see.
    [​IMG]
    Its one of two nose gear tires.


    About 50' beyond that is part of the left wing that holds the "N" number and one of the left main gear wheel/tire.
    [​IMG]


    At this point its hard to get a feel for what lies ahead, it seems just like a few bits of aluminum & rubber so far. But as you push on the next large piesce comes into view.
    [​IMG]
    Just when you thought a forest couldnt get any quieter, the silence seems defaning as you look at a window that someone was sitting behind as they died.

    This is a section of the bottom part of the left wing, you can make out the letters W and A from the TWA logo.
    [​IMG]


    Here is the left engine and part of the inboard left wing.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-5.jpg


    A closer look at the engine shows the incredable force of the impact. Each engine (5 feet in diameter!) is a Pratt & Whiney R-2800-CB16 Double Wasp radial putting out 2,400-hp. You could almost fit your head in the hole where the cylinder was tore off! Also note how twisted the connecting rods are. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-6.jpg


    Another section of the left wing.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-7.jpg


    This is a tree where this part impacted, note how it was damaged in the crash & over the last 50 years you can see how the tree grew up and around it.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-8.jpg


    The bottom of the outboard right wing & parts of the fuselage.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-9.jpg


    This is the forward door that can be seen open in the photo at the top of the post.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-10.jpg


    Another chilling sight, part of the frame around another window, on the left is part of a seat frame and bits of fabric.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-11.jpg


    This is an overhanging "cave" about 40' long and 15' deep, it is the largest section of concsentrated parts, mostly fuselage and some wing sections. The parts are actually covered in rocks and underbrush as can be seen in the second picture.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-12.jpg
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-13.jpg


    This is the "airstair" that the crew & passengers walked up on that day , some of their last steps so to speak(it can be seen open, below the rear of the aircraft in the first pic). Note the "non-skid" material on the step that is visable (the rest are buried to the left of the pic under the rocks & underbrush). The small bit of non-skid to the right of the step is actually on the floor of the cabin with the hinges visable below.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-14.jpg


    Looking back down the canyon along the base of the west wall (the aircraft was flying towords you in the pic) .
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-15.jpg


    This is the right main gear strut, its quite big, about 5' in length. Also note one of the exhaust manafolds wrapped around the bottom.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-16.jpg


    Here is the left prop, only half of one blade is still attatched, each blade was about 6' in length so the whole prop was over 12' in diameter. Where the blade is broken on the left of the picture, the metal is over 1" thick.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-23.jpg


    This is looking back down the canyon again at the last major section of fuselage about 400' from where the first picture was taken. Its hard to tell but it is very steep, the canyon floor rises about 200' from that first spot. All the light spots in the brush are bits of aluminum shining in the sun.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-22.jpg


    The right engine is the last major part found.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-21.jpg


    Beyond that were only smaller bits, this complete cylinder head was found at the very top of this canyon just before it dropped down about 400' into the next one.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-17.jpg


    This is looking over the right engine, down the canyon to the south, the ridge in the distance is about 8 miles away. Behind the brush you can make out the two canyon walls on eather side of the picture & see how they are wide at the top and get narrower towords the bottom.
    It is actually a very beautifull place.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/hkuspelite45/Untitled-20.jpg


    THOSE WHO DIED THAT DAY:
    Robert Balk
    Homer Bray
    W. Campbell
    D. Collier
    Earl Davis
    Lois Dean
    W. Nicholl
    R. Nyland
    D. Riley
    Mr. A. Schoonmaker
    Mrs. A. Schoonmaker
    H. Schuth
    H. Tipps

    I. Sprong (Pilot)
    A. Creason (Co-Pilot)
    Sharon Schoening (Flight Attendant)

    Life is short and can end in an instant, MAKE IT COUNT!


    (This was only supposed to be in GNG? Not sure how it got here too?
    Oh well)
     
  2. Texas T

    Texas T TX expatriate CLM

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    How did you hear about it/find it? Word of mouth?
     

  3. neofite

    neofite

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    HKMark23
    Can you give more specific info. on the exact location?lat/long. or ABQ radial/DME.I fly ABQ often and find this an interesting story,having not heard of it before.
     
  4. HKMark23

    HKMark23 Millennium Member

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    Its in the Sandias.
    If you were thinking flyover thats not going to happen in that canyon, besides you cant see much (anything) from the air.
    Are you planning on hikeing up to it?
    If you are it will take more detailed instructions than just Lat/Long.
    Let me know & Ill help you out.
     
  5. HKMark23

    HKMark23 Millennium Member

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    Oh and a rough guess would be 22 on the 070.