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Mystery Cache

Aviation Cache: The Parakeet Casualty

A cache by captainj Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 3/31/2017
In Iowa, United States
2.5 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size: micro (micro)

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Geocache Description:

The Best Headline I've Seen (Des Moines Register)

Des Moines Register Headline

On December 16, 1961 two Iowa Air National Guard F-86L Sabres ran out of fuel attempting several unsuccessful instrument landings. The two aircraft crashed almost simulataneously. The pilots headed for open country before bailing out. Quamme's plane landed harmlessly in a farm field, but Ervin's jet swung around and headed back towards Des Moines. Quamme's F-86 crashed in a West Des Moines neighborhood.

The pilots were both students at Iowa State University. They ejected before the jets crashed and both pilots were unhurt. The jets crashed into the kitchen of Mrs. Henry A. Sandahl, who ran into the street and escaped serious injury. "I was getting my lunch in the kitchen when it happened," said Mrs. Sandahl, 53. She was alone in the two-story home at 5729 Grand Ave. Mrs. Sandahl ran from the flames that broke out in the house feeling that the "house was falling in on me."

Too shaken to say much afterward, Mrs. Sandahl said sadly, "My parakeet burned up, Pee Wee was burned." Pieces of the airplane, kitchen equipment and shattered wood were heaped in the Sandahl kitchen. A large section of the plane, perhaps five feet by eight feet, was in the dining room.

The crashes occurred so close together that at first it was believed that the jets had collided in flight. Capt. Donald Boo of the Iowa Air National Guard indicated that there was no collision.

The planes had been flying a routine interception training mission conducted by the 124th Fighter Interceptor Squadron based out of Des Moines. Their target had been a T-33 Shooting Star trainer from an Air Defense Command base to the north. The weather at the time of take-off, was considered suitable for such a flight.

Both F-86 aircraft were on a routine Air Defense Command mission and were carrying 24 live rockets.

Fire officials at first expressed concern over the rockets, which were scattered over a wide area in the neighborhood near the intersection of 57th and Grand Avenue. However, Iowa Air National Guard officials said that there was no danger that they would explode.

At the time of the crash, Capt. Boo said that the F-86 jets were attempting simultaneous night landings at the Des Moines Airport.

Guard officers pointed out that weather had worsened rapidly in the Des Moines area. The cloud ceiling had dropped as drizzle and icing conditions moved into Des Moines.

The pilots of the jets were Capt. Richard E. Ervin, 27, and 2nd Lt. Harlan J. Quamme, 24, both of Ames, IA.

Ervin's jet came down in a residential section close to 57th and Grand Ave, while Quamme's jet came down and hit a semi-rural area 2.5 miles west of the airport.

The initial coordinates are of the house on the north side of the street that was hit by the Ervin's F-86. There are A windows in the eastern garage door. There are B walk-in doors on the front of the home. The house number is CDE9. These numbers are ABCDE. Use these numbers to solve for the final location. Please do not trespass on the homeowner's lawn as it is private property. The final is not accessible via a highway or interstate.

Final Location:

N 41 35.C(A-B)(D+E)
W 93 41.A(E-B)D

Des Moines Register Pictures of the Crash
Picking up the Debris (Des Moines Register)
The Pilots: 1st Lt. Harlan Quamme and Capt. Richard Ervin (Des Moines Register)

An Iowa Air National Guard F-86 Sabre (Courtesy of Robert Sullivan)

Please join us at the Iowa Geocachers Organization's annual Hike-N-Seek Event September 22-24 in Ames, IA. For more information visit

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Current Time:
Last Updated: on 7/13/2017 11:30:01 AM Pacific Daylight Time (6:30 PM GMT)
Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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