A-12 Spy Plane crash (#928) in January 1967
In 1967 one of the top-secret A-12 spy planes operating out of Area 51 crashed minutes before touchdown after a completed training mission, when the plane ran out of fuel. The whole story is documented in great detail in Tom Mahoods excellent Hunt for 928 article. The pilot, Walter Ray, ejected and landed several miles from the crash site of the plane. Unfortunately the ejection system malfunctioned, and he was killed on impact.
Below are a few photos of the plane's crash site, taken on 12/1/2002 and of the pilot's impact site, taken on 9/1/2002. After 35 years there is not much left to see, only small pieces of debris in the area of the planes point of impact. The plane's impact crater is still visible, if you know where to look. We also found a few pieces of thick glass near the pilot's point of impact, but it is doubtful that it is actually glass from the plane's canopy.
Click on any picture for a larger version.
Crash Site of the A-12 Spy Plane
Looking up to the plane's impact point, the lighter area in the center of the picture. It probably came down in a steep angle, and just barely made it over the ridge in the background.
Looking in the direction of the plane's flight path: The point of impact is in the foreground. The dip in the ridge in the center of the picture may have been caused by the wreckage before it impacted again on the slope in the background, where lots of small pieces of debris can be found. The width of the debris field could indicate that the plane broke into several pieces after the initial impact.
The slope of the secondary impact is littered with small pieces of debris. You can find many pieces of Titanium, a very light but durable metal that was used for the skin of the A-12. This small pile was collected in less than two minutes.
Pilot's Impact Site
The hillside where Walter Ray impacted, still strapped to his ejection seat. The original impact point is in the upper part of the slope. From there Ray and the seat tumbled down the steep slope and finally came to rest at the foot of one of the cedar trees.
This clearing was cut as a helicopter landing area. Vegetation is growing back, but it is still visible after 35 years.
Cans and empty smoke canisters left behind by the cleanup crew.