New Mexico trip report --61-17952 (SR-71A)

Message posted by JimK on April 25, 2006 at 15:04:17 PST:

After the El Paso SR-71 I was thinking why bother with the New Mexico ones but Sunday was such a perfect day and I had to drive within 70 miles of the place anyway so I went to the site of Bill Weaver's crash in 1966. I won't say that this place is at the end of the world but it's close enough to see the edge.

61-17952 (SR-71A) is the aircraft that came apart at about Mach 3.2 and 80,000 feet altitude. Weaver never bailed out. The plane just came apart around him. The plane had been going so fast he didn't know what state he was in. Unfortunately his back-seater did not survive.

The owner of the land is the son of the man who found Bill Weaver. He was about six years old at the time and sort of remembers it but not in great detail. Most of what he knows is from what he was told later. A couple of the things he told me that I hadn't seen in print before were that the people at Clovis AFB didn't want to believe his father at first but they checked and found out it was true. They told him to guard the crash site (which is about five miles across) but don't look at it! He also said the air force was very interested in figuring out how his father took off Weaver's helmet. Apparently it wasn't the normal method.

He and his wife are really nice people who very graciously let me wander their land looking for parts but warned me that the ranch hands had actively collected the parts they found for years. Once a year they would send the Air Force the annual collection. He said no parts had been found for several years now.

I only found one part that might be from the aircraft. I really doubt it though. The plastic does not appear eroded enough. The owner didn't recognize it as a ranch part but thought it might be part of an animal trap.

Something that I'd never heard before was how beautiful the land is. It could easily make a movie set for a western movie. Wildlife included antelopes, road runners, deer, a couple of snakes and lots of miscellaneous birds. I won't say where it is or what the owner's name is in order to help them keep it that way. I really enjoyed wandering around there.

A photo of the part can be seen at

along with some other photos from the trip. If you happen to know what it is please let me know. There is a number 4 embossed at one end. If you like contrail photos, there is a neat one taken on the way to the site.

An article about Bill Weaver's wild ride can be found at

Also see Peter Merlin's trip report at Click on Blackbirds, then 952.


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