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The Grumman HU-16 Albatross fist took flight in 1947 and was officially introduced into the USAF and USN in 1947. It was primarily a search and rescue aircraft, but also hauled cargo and in this case, a little somethin‘ somethin‘ for the C.I.A. This flight was a “classified training mission for the C.I.A.” in aid of the cold war. We’re not sure exactly what they were doing, but they never made it to their destination.
On January 24th, 1952, an Albatross from the 580th Air Resupply Squadron was flying from Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho to San Diego. Over Death Valley, California, its port engine caught on fire. It was already dark and the plane started losing altitude fast so a decision was made. All five crewmembers bailed out and the plane later hit one of the peaks of the Panamint Mountains.
If you take a look at the video you’ll see that the plane was pretty much intact. If you think about that fact that it flew itself, unmanned, right into the side of a mountain you’d figure it must have disintegrated.
Quite the opposite.
The entire tail section is still intact. You can also see one full engine and a bunch of other identifiable pieces of the plane. Pretty incredible for a plane that went down over half a century ago.