On 8-20-08 I went for the week to the Alamo/Rachel area for the last week of Red Flag. One of my objectives was to go to the impact site where the F-15D crashed late last month, almost three weeks ago. I expected the site to be sanitized, but to my surprise, it was not. That would be closure for me.
Upon approaching the staging area where my earlier photos showed the trucks, I observed several port-a-johns still there, sans the trucks. I parked next to the edge of the wash, and walked to where I could see the impact site. There was definitely a major cleaning going on, but not quite complete. I saw several 50 gallon drums in one spot, and many small burned patches of brush and debris. I saw several small red flags marking areas of small debris that still had to be cleaned. I then checked the drums and they were all empty. It seems they are there to contain the rest of the debris when it is all removed.
There was one particular spot that stood out. It was a completely cleaned area of desert sand approximately 100+ ft wide. It was very apparent that this is where the aircraft impacted the ground.
From what I have been told by reliable sources, and from what I first suspected, the jet went into the ground nose first, but at a slight angle going from east to west. On the east side of the impact site there was very little burnt brush, almost pristine. To the west of the site was a debris field of burnt brush and thousands of pieces of very small debris stretching 4-500 ft westward. All large debris had been removed. I saw several small pieces of circuit boards still marked with small red flags. The stubs of hundreds of burnt scrub brush delineated the debris field and direction the force of the impact.
What was surprising was that outside of the direct impact site, there was almost no cratering or gouging out of the landscape beyond the impact area. It appears that the jet impacted with such catastrophic force that it pretty much disintegrated and folded in upon itself, mostly within that 100+ft impact site. I can only guess how fast it was traveling when it hit the ground.
From what I have been told, both pilots ejected, sadly one, Lt. Col. Thomas Bouley, did not survive. It is quite possible that they were at the minimum critical ejection level when ejecting, but that is pure speculation on my part.
I will post the rest of the photos I took on my Webshots site at a later date.
And in case any one is wondering if I picked up anything for a souvenir, the answer is no. I left everything the way I found it. To do anything else there would be sacrilegious. If I could have erased my footprints, I would have.
From what I understand, in a couple of weeks the area will be completely sanitized, and after the next rain storm, you will never know what occured there. That will be a good thing.