Sunday, December 21, 2014

Crash Site Crazy

Odometer  43585
Trip Meter 0

Wednesday December 17th 2014
Ajo, AZ

I mentioned in my last blog post that my friend Mark purchased a Suzuki Samurai at the end of last summer

Mark had it worked on in Yuma by a specialist, who modified the suspension, put on new wheels and tires, and basically tuned it up.  I'm here to say it's an AWESOME little desert crawler.  The suspension mods make it very smooth riding- something that is very appreciated by anyone who has seen what passes for a desert "road"
Mark got a tip from a fellow in his RV park about an aircraft crash site that we hadn't seen yet, so we went out to check it out.  What was left of the aircraft was, as you can imagine, spread out over a large area.
Mark did a cursory check of some of the larger parts to see if we could get an approximate age or a aricraft ID.  We saw several bits of turbine blade- so that pegs this site as a jet aircraft, but there was precious little to give us anything more to work on.  The military does not leave much when they clean up a crash site, and what is left has been partially buried or washed away over the ensuing years.  Mark has cultivated a contact at the Airforce Museum at Wright Patterson, and we set to the job of photographing items that may identify the age and type of aircraft that went down here.

Another part that has us intrigued, is this very large and very heavy shackle.  We are wondering if it may be part of the aircraft arresting system?  Or it could be a hunk of scrap thrown out by the maintenance shop.  This particular site is close to the airport and we have turned up kerosene lanterns, oil dispensers, bed springs- you name it.  No site is exactly pristine, as the desert was (and some would say still is) considered a great dumping ground.  Our mission here is not to claim anything.  We photograph, record serial and part numbers and leave the item in place.  If we can identify the craft involved, that information is forwarded on to others who archive that data in an large database.

One item of interest to me, was this radiosonde, or weather balloon tranismitter that was also found in the area of the aircraft debris field.  A meterologist told me that weather balloons are sent up all around the globe, all at the same time, and the data from them all is fed into a massive super-computer which figures out the weather for the next several days to weeks.  Worldwide there are more than 800 balloons released every day of the week .  The NOAA wants people to return these transmitters when found, however I pretty sure this one has been lying in the desert way too long now to be of any further value.  The balloon expands as the air pressure around it decreases.  The balloon is designed to burst when it reaches a certain altitude (by now the ballon is about 6 times the size it was on Earth) and the transmitter parachutes back to the Earth.  If the balloon doesn't reach at least 23,000 feet it is considered a failure- many go as high as 115,000 feet.  Only about 20% of the 70,000 radiosondes released every year are found and returned

Signs like the one shown here are common around this area.  Joan was reading an article in the local paper today that the Customs/Border Patrol initated a counter-scout operation this month.  Apparently the smuggling community has established a system of lookouts on the higher peaks and ridges around the desert, who guide the smugglers through and area with 2 way radios.  Agents arrested 24 scouts and confiscated 5,600 lbs of marijuana, solar panels and radios.

While walking along an arroyo searching for signs of another downed aircraft I spotted this unusual sight.  It's not al that rare to see fruit trees in town, but this was far from town, so it got my attention.  As I got closer I saw that it was not a citrus tree- not a tree at all.  It is a mesquite bush with a series of gourds growning in amongst the branches.  These gourds generally grow on the ground and can have as much as 4 to 8 feet of vine between each.  in this case the vines grew up and over the mesquite and the heavy gourds were dangling on a small vine that I swear is only 3/16" of an inch across.  These things look, feel and weigh just the same as a small watermelon.

Joan and I took a drive south to Darby Well and took a short hike in the surrounding area

I don't know why, but I always find myself wondering about the last occupants of a desert dwelling.  Did they grow old and die here, or did they move away when the kids took jobs in Phoenix.  I wonder why is there just one wall still standing?  Why did they cut this Chevy in half just behind the front seats?

Way too much curiosity and imagination...

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

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