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This is an A-10 thunderbolt II crash site in the Virgin River Gorge.
On September 3, 2001 at about 1:30 PM (Pacific time) A group of three A-10 Thunderbolt II(warthogs) left Nellis Air force base on a “Low altitude navigational training mission”. There destination was a base in New Mexico. At 1:00 PM (mountain time) Several motorists on I-15 saw the plains making tight maneuvers in the virgin river gorge. Witnesses state that one of the planes then dropped away from the others and slammed into the side of the mountain, erupting into a fire ball about 100x as large as the plane. The pilot, Capt. Fredrick H. Sellers was able to safely eject, and was quickly rescued.
A friend of mine was coming home from St. George and was one of the eye witnesses. He called me from cedar pocket rest area and I was able to see smoke from my home in Mesquite, 17 miles away.
As you would expect the air force quickly set up camp in the gorge to pick up the pieces and investigate. What makes this crash site interesting is eight days later was 9-11. With the destruction of the twin towers the investigation immediately ended. The air force people picked up and returned to base, leaving a lot of the wreckage still on the mountain. Where it has sat to this day.
The GPS coordinates are in about the middle of the debris field. Higher up the hill is a large impact area more fuselage, gages, and shell casings. Down the gully is a smaller impact site and still farther down is one of the jet engines, nearly intact. A lot of the pieces still have rusty little marker flags by them.
I placed this virtual cache mainly for those who, like me, find nosing around a site like this interesting. Not really for the hunt. With that in mind here are directions.
1. Head north on I-15 through the virgin river gorge.
2. Just past the “narrows” there is a large dirt pull out area, don’t stop, you need to continue a little farther, cross the next bridge, you will see a small canyon off to the right with a large diversion berm in front of it. Pull off here and park by the cable line.
3. Crossing the river and walking up this canyon is the "best" way to the sight.
4. Start by descending down to the riverbed where the rocks are cemented together.
5. The first few miles are not to bad. The second half is another story.
WARNING this is not a hike for the timid. While my 10 year old daughter (bud #1) made it to the site, I had to carry her pretty much all of the way back out. Between falls, scratches, and the cactus she is in pretty bad shape. (And I’m not really feeling too hot myself). There is no trail, much of the terrain is very steep, lots of loose rock, cliffs, and no shortage of cactus. Basically this is as bad as desert hiking gets.
ADDED INFO 10 April 2009
I hiked back up to the sight today to see how things have changed in the last eight years. It is much as it was except that much of the larger pieces have moved down hill a bit. Also the piece of debris that I had you describe has changed. there used to be a small brass tag that said ignition igniter and had a number. It looks as if somebody pried it off. So for credit now tell me how many gears there are on the front.
1. I have communicated with half a dozen hikers that have ended up in the hospital after attempting this hike, Usually due to heat and dehydration issues. So if you are thinking about trying this hike spring and fall are your best bets. March and April are best, May is pushing it, early morning maybe. June is just a bad idea. Wait until the weather cools back off.
2. Good boots with ankle support will help in the steep rocky areas.
3. Some consiterate cachers have left some rock stacks to help show you the best route. Use them.
4. The second half of the hike is the hard part. It starts at the large rock spire (you can't miss it) I'll give more details in the hints.
5. The debris continues up to the top, It really is scattered over a large area.
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Last Updated: on 11/15/2017 3:57:50 PM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (11:57 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum