Recovery: Three Fingered Jack (03/30 - 03/31)

Text and Photographs by Iain Morris

Arriving on the crash site on TFJ. You can just see the plane in the background. It was snowing all day, and the weather was heading downhill in a hurry, so we took a bunch of photos for the NTSB and sheriff and got out of there. Snowmobiles could only get a few miles in.

The plane appears to have crashed in an almost vertical orientation with tremendous force. The tail section then fell backwards to its current position. This is very near the climber's trail on TFJ.

The next day was clear enough for the 1042nd to come in, so we set up an LZ at Hoodoo Ski Area. The 1042nd generously provided support with two Blackhawks and some very helpful personnel.

The 10 person recovery team was a combination of Corvallis Mtn Rescue, Linn County Sheriff Deputies, Camp Sherman, and 1042nd medics. Here is Hwy 20 and only a very small portion of the recent B and B complex burn from the air

What took us all day to approach on skis the day before required about 1 minute to cover with the helicopter.

Approaching the crash site, Three Fingered Jack in view.

We established a LZ on the south ridge of TFJ were we could set down gently w/o doing a bunch of hoists with the JP.

The second Blackhawk provided gear transport, lowering stokes litters containing gear to our team.

Here is the crash site in relation to the mountain. The start of the climbing route is on the right horizon.

The wings needed to be cut away with a reciprocating saw to access the cabin. It appears the impact was immense, as the cabin seats were ripped off the airframe and no longer held the occupants. There was some concern about the smell of av. gas, but the tanks were empty, and it was not strong.

Once we removed the 3 occupants, we did a long lower down to the base of the mountain, basically to the PCT. We repackaged into stokes litters and brought them into the helicopter in a series of hoist evolutions. The rest of the personnel were brought out from the upper LZ.

Santiam Pass and Black Butte from the air. As you can see, the weather was starting to deteriorate again. You can see a bit of the B and B complex burn here again.

Returning to Hoodoo.

The second Blackhawk arrives to unload its cargo.

Return to Mission 04-01