It started with a question in DC-3 Yahoo Groups: who had information about this DC-3, lying on a Yukon Mountain?
Photos were published on a snowmobile website (www.ksa.yk.ca/photos.html), showing a DC-3 wreck to which tour per snowmobile were organized.
A second image described a DC-3 in the 'Ruby Range' of the Yukon, as seen on Jochen Mezger's website: www.uni-mainz.de/~mezger/. This one shows it in the summer.
I saved a copy of the photo as Jochen's website seems unmaintained and could become offline, click here for Jochen's photo.
Here are some photos relayed to me by Roland Shaver of Bear North Adventures, www.yukonsnowmobile.com (dead link in June 2007), which is located in Haines Junction, Yukon, Canada:
These photos were taken by John Jennings, a local pilot and aviation historian.
Through relay by Roland Shaver, I have the story how this aircraft got here; it was originally published in the Whitehorse Star:
On January 26, 1950 a U.S. air force C-54 transport plane en route from Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage to Great Falls AFB in Montana vanished somewhere near Whitehorse. There were 33 military personnel, eight crew and three civilians. To this day this aircraft has never been found.
The search lasted 23 days, involved dozens of aircraft and hundreds of searchers, was the largest search in North American history and was the most expensive at $700,000 U.S. dollars. (This was 55 years ago!!) .
The aircraft you saw a photo of, was a U.S. air force C-47 that was involved with the search dubbed 'Operation Mike'. It went down 48 km north of Haines Junction on a barren snowy mountain top. All 10 airmen on board survived. The pilot WALKED 13 km out to the Alaska Highway (that in it's self is a miracle!) in extreme terrain, was picked up by a transport truck and driven to Whitehorse. He led a search party back to the scene and all were rescued. The search for the original plane was called off the next day.
Roland continues, for those who are interested in booking a trip to this C-47:
I have been to the site many times, but do not have any numbers for you. It is an awesome snowmobile trip to the base of the mountain, but is not always possible to ride to the top. (Hiking is possible). The mountain gets very wind blown and is rocky as well as very steep. The snow can get blown off it very quickly making the final climb difficult. The spring time March/April conditions are most favourable for this trip, and we are the only tour company that provides this excursion. It is a one day trip return trip and can be included with any of our tour destinations. End Quote
[In June 2007 I did some more research on a wreckage located near Beaver Creek,YT. And it seems I found the DC-4 they were looking for...]
Then Martin Pole brought in this photo taken by Jochen Mezger (geologist) and note the magnificent scenery !:
The best I could make of it, after fiddling around with contrast and brightness in Adobe Photoshop, was 51037.
Photo confirmation, by a much better photo, was found in the book "Wings Over the Alaska Highway" by Bruce McAllister and Peter Corley-Smith (Roundup Press, Boulder,CO; 2001). Look up pages 124 and 125, it is 45-1037 !
And there it is: Douglas C-47B 45-1037 (17040/34306) at Haines Junction in the Ruby Mountains, 06Aug03.
When I travelled the area I made it a point to visit the wreck. Unfortunately, I found the helicopter of Trans North Air unavailable. So we walked over to Sifton Air and found they were willing to put a Cessna 205 to our disposal. Though this charter was cheaper, it proved to be more difficult to take photos of the wreckage, as it is located under the rim of a mountain. The fly-by cannot be made in a straight line, so Kate (our pilot) flew in the direction of the DC-3 and had to make a hard break to the right to avoid crashing against that mountain.... It left me with only a split second to make a picture.
My trip through the Yukon and Alaska, 2003.
In June 2004 I received en email from Craig Fuller-
"Concerning your DC-3 mystery, you did indeed confirm it correctly: 45-1037. Attached are two pages of the official USAF Accident report. Feel free to use them if you like, but I would greatly appreciate a reciprocal link to my web site. By any chance did you get a GPS coordinate on the crash when you flew over? It is a great site and would like to visit it someday to record it.
AAIR Aviation Archaeological Investigation & Research
Falcon Field Station Box 22049
Mesa, AZ 85277-2049 (480)-218-8198
Thanks Craig, unfortunately I have no GPS data, however at Haines Junction Airport the pilots are familiar with its location.
The 2 pages of the USAF Accident report can be read here and here. The report has details of the events that lead to the crash.
Here is the location of Haines Junction, to give an idea of the location:
Janna Swales contacted me Sep.2007 and related her challenging hike, together with Colin Beairsto, to the crashsite..
"Let me tell you about my C47 crash hike that took me north of Haines Junction... It seems like aeons ago now, but it was mid June, last summer.
My plane crash friend and his dog and I made our second attempt to reach this WW2 crash after a failed attempt last summer. I left from Teslin on a Thursday after work, and the three of us started hiking on a Friday morning. A lovely Friday morning.
Our hike began with an 18 kilometre mountain bike ride, first up-up old ATV tracks, and then steeply down into Marshall Creek. At Marshall Creek we cached our bikes and some delectable snacks as a treat. We began hiking up swampy Marshall Creek, skirting the marshy, submerged ATV track for long sections by following moose trails, before reaching the upper drainage. Colin was using my bivy sack; I was using my hammock. We camped in the upper Marshall drainage and prepared ourselves for the three thousand feet of elevation gain that would occur immediately when we started out the next morning. We had a great camp that we had used the year previous. A perfect sheltered spot that housed the hammock under two close growing pines, and comfortably cradled the bivy in a little nest of thick pine needles.
From the scouting of the previous year we knew that the bush was pretty thick and the slope was pretty steep to arrive at the meadowy traverse that we were gunning for. But we also knew that there were three or four fingers or tongues of rock slides that descended low into the brushiness, and we aimed for those and hit them early on... Although the steepness was tiring, those rock slides transported us up the slope in euphoric time as we mocked the brush to either side. As we neared the ridge the brush gave way to alpine beauty, short shrubby heather and flowers and grassy meadows. We chatted and laughed our way up and along further despite the drizzling weather and low foggy cloud. We had the UTM location of the crash and lots of walking time. No problem!
No problem, until we came to a cliff... This was a surprise cliff that didn’t show as a cliff on our topographics or our aerial photos...
It was foggy or cloudy enough that we couldn’t see through the abyss to the pass on the other side of the valley. We couldn’t see the bottom of the cliff. We couldn’t see the top of it rising to our right either. It was socked in as they say.
We decided to stay put for a time and wait for a break in the weather and an extension to our views. So we while away the time with some Landyager sausage. Our patient plan worked to show us views of a passable route under the base of the upper cliff, and above the lower snowfield. That successful route led us to a pass that was the entry to the Ruby Range. But the Ruby Range doesn’t allow visitors easily via that route. It was a 1500 foot descent to the next valley bottom over another snowfield, a walkable snowfield where a slip would get a person to the bottom very quickly and would very quickly maim that person in the welcoming bosom of rocks awaiting. I hated it! With every step I knew that I would need to return via that route, and with every step I envisioned that rocky bosom.
We had seen glimpses of the plane through the clearing clouds from the top of the pass. At the pass the plane was visibly many hundred of feet above us, the descent to the valley bottom presented us with a 2500 foot climb, albeit an easyish one, steep yet meadowy and clear of brush.
The climb was broken into three phases, there was the first initial steep part of about 1500 feet, phase two was an uphill meadowy traverse, and the third phase was the final assault of about 1000 feet to our destination. It was cold up there..."
Well done Janna, bravo !!
Hans Wiesman also made it his goal to get to this aircraft...
www.avionart.com, Hans Wiesman collects (worldwide!) DC-3 wingtips to convert them into furniture!
SEE PHOTO BY PHOTOGRAPHER RICHARD MOSSE, WRECKHUNTING FOR HIS 'THE FALL' PORTFOLIO AND 2009 EXHIBITION; INTERVIEW BY BLDGBLOG OR ACROBAT READER DOCUMENT
'Scudrunner' published this photo on the AvCanada Forum:
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