When our friends Juergen and Mike of For 91 Days were hiking in the Payette National Forest, Idaho, they ran across this wreckage of a B-23 Bomber and told us this fascinating story:
In February of 1943, a B-23 Bomber got lost in the snowy mountain wilderness of Idaho. Short of fuel, the crew realized that they’d have to land soon, and searched desperately for a place to touch down. In the nick of time, the mountains opened up and they spotted Loon Lake: frozen over and just big enough to attempt a landing. The plane skidded across the ice and crashed into the trees on the lake’s southern shore.
Everyone survived the rough landing, but they weren’t home free quite yet. The eight man crew was still lost in the wild back-country of Idaho, with no way to communicate their location, or any idea as to where they were. For fifteen days in harsh winter weather, they held on. Three of the team were sent out to explore and hopefully find help, but it was a commercial pilot who eventually discovered the wreckage by chance. He landed his little plane three times in the tricky conditions to rescue the crew. All eight men survived.
The wreckage from the Chinook Bomber is still in the woods. After 69 years, it’s more intact than I would have believed. We walked around the bomber, and poked our heads into the wheel well and cockpit. Amazing. I suppose it’s too remote to effect a clean-up, and anyway it serves as a remarkable memorial to humanity’s will to survive.