kings canyon national park

I think we have all heard of the Bermuda Triangle, where planes and ships have mysteriously gone missing in the Atlantic Ocean for decades, but most people are not aware that there is a similar place in Alaska and one in Nevada. The Nevada Triangle lies in a region of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Nevada and California. In that area, some 2,000 planes have been lost in the last 60 years. That may not seem significant, but when you break it down, it is about 3 crashes/disappearances a every month of those 60 years. The Nevada Triangle is more than 25,000 miles of mountain desert. It is a remotely populated area, and many of the crash sites have never found.

The triangle location is roughly defined as spanning from Las Vegas, Nevada; to Fresno, California; to Reno, Nevada. Of course, notoriously located in this wilderness area is the mysterious, top-secret Area 51…adding to the mystery of these disappearances. Along with the dozens of conspiracy theories which include UFO’s and paranormal activity that surrounds the air force base, similar theories have long been considered regarding the Nevada Triangle. Throughout these many years, many of the missing planes were flown by experienced pilots and disappeared under mysterious circumstances, with the wreckage never found. I don’t buy into most conspiracy theories, and I don’t know what I think of this situation either, but when you look at the statistics an undeniable picture of strangeness does seem to present itself.

Probably one of the most famous cashes of our current time is that of record-setting aviator, sailor, and adventurer, Steve Fossett on September 3, 2007. Fossett, who was flying a single-engine Bellanca Super Decathlon over Nevada’s Great Basin Desert, took off and never returned. Search crews combed the area for a month, before the search was called off and on February 15, 2008, Fossett was declared dead. Then on September 29th, 2008, Fossett’s identification cards were discovered in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California by a hiker. Of course, that reactivated the search, and a few days later, the crash site was discovered, located approximately 65 miles from where the aviator initially took off. Initially, no remains were found, but two bones were later recovered a half mile from the crash site which were found to have belonged to Steve Fossett. It is assumed that his body was carried of by wild animals, hence the scattered bones.

One of the earliest incidents of planes lost in the “Triangle” dates back 70 years when a B-24 bomber crashed in the Sierra Nevada mountains in 1943. The bomber, took off on December 5th, piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Willis Turvey and co-piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Robert M Hester. The plane carried four other crew members including 2nd Lieutenant William Thomas Cronin, serving as navigator; 2nd Lieutenant Ellis H Fish, bombardier; Sergeant Robert Bursey, engineer; and Sergeant Howard A Wandtke, radio operator. A routine night training mission, the plane took off from Fresno, California’s Hammer Field destined to Bakersfield, California to Tucson, and then was scheduled to return. The next day an extensive search mission began when nine B-24 Bombers were sent out to find the missing plane. The search was unsuccessful, and also brought about another mystery, when one of the search bombers went missing. On the morning of December 6, 1943, Squadron Commander Captain William Darden lifted off along with eight other B-24s. Captain Darden, his airplane, and remaining crew would not be seen again until 1955, at which point the Huntington Lake reservoir was drained for repairs to the dam. I suppose that all of the missing planes are somewhere, and might still be discovered someday, bit it is a vast area, and it is almost impossible to search all of it. Even with information concerning Captain Darden and his B-24, by survivors who bailed out at the captains orders, that the captain tried to land in a clearing that ended up being a half frozen lake, it still took twelve years to locate the plane.

The father of the original B-24’s co-pilot never gave up the search, although he was unsuccessful and died of a heart attack in 1959, about 14 years after the crash. One year after Clinton Hester passed away, the wreckage was found in July 1960 by to United States Geological Survey researchers who were working in a remote section of the High Sierra, west of LeConte Canyon in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. There, they found airplane wreckage in and near an unnamed lake. Later, Army investigators revealed the wreckage to be that of the first missing bomber piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Willis Turvey and co-piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Robert M. Hester. The lake is now known as Hester Lake.

It would seem that the Kings Canyon National Park area is a tough one to search, and seems to hold the key to may of the missing planes. As odd as some of these events sound, I find it hard to believe that they could have just disappeared. Still, I’m no expert in the matter, and these may not have been the only time something or someone just went missing. I am reminded of Enoch in the Bible, “And Enoch walked with God and disappeared because God took him.” Genesis 5:24. Whatever may have happened in these cases of missing planes, some of which we may never know, and some that may remain a mystery for years; the fact remains that this is a very difficult area to search, and so we really just don’t know. “Conspiracy theorists have long claimed the reason so many flights have disappeared is connected to the presence Area 51, where the US Air Force is known to test secret prototype aircraft. But, many experts believe the disappearances can be attributed to the areas geography and atmospheric conditions. The Sierra Nevada mountains run perpendicular to the Jet Stream, or high Pacific winds, which conspire with the sheer, high altitude peaks and wedge-shaped range to create volatile, unpredictable winds and downdrafts. This weather phenomenon is sometimes called the “Mountain Wave” where planes are seemingly ripped from the air and crashed to the ground.” Of course, many experts believe they are pilot error, inexperienced pilots getting caught in turbulence, and the disorienting mountain terrain. I suppose that is possible, but that is a lot of cases over the past 60 years. Then again, not every plane that flies over the area disappears either, so who am I to say.

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