Crash Site, September 2006

 

On September 28, 2006, the final court hearing settling Dadís estate was held.I traveled to Muskogee to take care of this business.Afterwards, I decided to travel to Holdenville (1 Ĺ hour drive) to see the crash site.It had been 21 months since the crash occurred, but the owner of the ranch had not disturbed the site after the FAA inspector had finished his work.

 

The crash site is a few miles northeast of Holdenville.From I-40, take exit 217 and travel 24 miles south on OK-48.Turn west on US-270 and travel 4 miles to Yeager Road.Turn left on Yeager Road and travel north another 4 miles to the crash site, which is 150 yards to the west of Yeager Road.It can be accessed by turning left on the dirt road and it will be in the pasture on the right side after crossing the creek running parallel to Yeager Road.The Google Maps coordinates of the crash location are 35.146332,-96.355843 (latitude, longitude).

 

This trip was all about closure, so traveling to the crash site seemed like a good idea.It was a beautiful day and the feelings of loss had long since been replaced by the joy of remembering the great times I had with my father.

 

This part of Oklahoma is all about cattle, natural gas, and oil wells.Below is a typical view traveling along Yeager Road:

 

 

 

After turning on the dirt road off of Yeager, this is the view looking north toward the crash site.The resolution of the picture is too low to see the wreckage, which is in the left center of the picture near the last large tree on the left.One can imagine why it took a month to locate this wreckage even though it was very near where the plane disappeared from the radar.

 

 

 

Below is the view looking at the plane toward the northwest.The initial impact was behind the picture and the plane traveled toward the northwest and impacted the tree on the right in the picture.The right wing came to rest to the right of the tree and the left wing was on the left side.

 

 

 

Below is the main part of the structure.The fire consumed most of the plane except for the metal parts and a few pieces of fabric which did not burn completely.The white tank below is the planeís parachute which was designed to allow the plane to float safely to the ground.However, it was not deployed.Dad was flying low beneath the clouds and the crash site suggests that he probably lost control of the plane in a low level stall.

 

 

Below is the structure from the right wing on the northeast side of the tree.

 

 

Below is the structure of the left wing on the west side of the tree.

 

 

Below is a close up of the transponder box that allowed the air traffic control radar to track his progress within a short distance of the crash.Dad didnít have the altitude encoding working yet, so the aircraft altitude was not being transmitted to the radar.However, there were low clouds in the area at the time and he would have been staying underneath them.

 

 

 

Dad didnít suffer as he would have died instantly.Very little was recovered, enough to make an identification with dental records. The serial number on the engine confirmed the identity of the aircraft.The coroner from Oklahoma City sent me a key that he found at the site and a belt buckle.I cleaned the key (which was covered with black soot) and it opened Dadís house door in Muskogee.The belt buckle was the same one he was wearing in pictures from his visit with us on Labor Day 2004.These things were enough for me to be sure.

 

After seeing these sad pictures, I thought it would be good to end on a happy one.Below is a picture of me and Dad in front of a Cessna 172 that we rented in March 1988 to fly together.The location was Aberdeen, Washington, where he was living at the time.We flew around northwestern Washington state and enjoyed incredible views.This was actually the last time we flew together.