Stumbled upon plane crash above Widow Mine

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Death Valley Dazed
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Stumbled upon plane crash above Widow Mine

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:18 pm

After exploring Widow Mine and hiking up and over towards Ryan Camp just below the ridgeline I spotted something shining in the morning light. Zooming in with camera it looked like a wreck. Here's what I discovered just outside the east park boundary.

I attempted to make this honorable and respectful to pilot Vern K DeBerg who lost his life at this site in 1995.

In case you can't see the video description, I've copied it here:

Pilot Lavern "Vern" K. Deberg of Chilcoot, CA lost his life on December 23, 1995,, a Piper PA-24-250, N7304P, was destroyed after colliding with mountainous terrain near Death Valley, California. The pilot was fatally injured. The flight originated at Nervino, California, on the day of the accident about 1030 hours, and was destined for Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

The nearest airport to the accident site was Furnace Creek Airport in Death Valley. Personnel at the Furnace Creek Inn stated there were low clouds and generally poor weather.

According to a friend of the pilot, he would stop at Furnace Creek en route to Lake Havasu to drop off a Christmas tree for friends.

The aircraft was not located within the normal search time allotted and the search was closed.

On June 27, 1996, the aircraft wreckage was discovered in the remote area of Death Valley's Greenwater Mountain Range at an elevation of 4,000 feet. The location was 16 miles east of Furnace Creek.

The wreckage path was oriented to the southwest (240 degrees) over a distance about 355 feet. The first point of contact was observed to be an outcropping of pointed rock formations about 3 feet above the general grade of the ridgeline. From that contact point, the grade descended down at 20 degrees over a distance of 120 feet into a gully. The left wing was found in the gully and was severed from the leading edge straight back and through the middle of the left wing flap. The damaged wing flap was separated from the wing structure.

The main impact point was located by a crater 150 feet from the initial point of impact (IPI). A propeller blade was located 158 feet from the IPI. The propeller hub and the other blade were found separated from the engine crankshaft flange. Both propeller blades displayed leading edge damage aft bending and chordwise striations.

The main wreckage was located 60 feet from the top of a ridgeline. A postcrash fire consumed a majority of the cabin and center section of the airframe.

There were remnants of about three Christmas type trees found at the accident site.

Vern was dedicated to fighting fires and is memorialized at The Sierra Valley Fire District in Chilcoot is located at 94362 Highway 70. It is situated on the south side of the highway, just east of the turnoff to Highway 284 to Frenchman Lake.

IN MEMORY OF LAVERN K. DEBERG

SIERRA VALLEY VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT

"A MAN WITH A VISION WHO DEDICATED HIS LIFE TO THE COMMUNITY" VERN MOVED TO SIERRA VALLEY IN THE SPRING OF 1970. HE SPENT THE LAST 18 YEARS OF HIS LIFE AS A FIREFIGHTER AND FIRE CHIEF. HE DONATED THIS LAND AND HIS TIME TO BUILD THIS FIRE STATION. HIS EFFORTS ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED AND WILL BE MISSED. HIS MEMORY WILL BE FOREVER HONORED.

If anyone has more details to honor Pilot DeBerg please submit a comment.

https://youtu.be/LXLIrsEHwE4
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N0 02
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Re: Stumbled upon plane crash above Widow Mine

Post by N0 02 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:45 am

Well written story.

Rest in Peace.

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Stincil
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Re: Stumbled upon plane crash above Widow Mine

Post by Stincil » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:43 am

Someone went to a lot of trouble to place that memorial up there. Very nice.
Thanks,

Keith

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Candace_66
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Re: Stumbled upon plane crash above Widow Mine

Post by Candace_66 » Fri Apr 27, 2018 8:36 pm

I spotted this while poking around on top of that butte above Ryan. That was in Nov. 2014, and the site looks about the same now. Thx for the info about the pilot and crash.

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Death Valley Dazed
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Re: Stumbled upon plane crash above Widow Mine

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Fri Apr 27, 2018 8:56 pm

Candace_66 wrote:
Fri Apr 27, 2018 8:36 pm
Thx for the info about the pilot and crash.
You are welcome and I forgot to mention that you and Mojave Geek were my inspiration for exploring around the Ryan Camp. The plane crash site hit close to home as I lost my favorite uncle a few decades ago when the propeller came off of his plane and he "augered into a field in Utah."
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Candace_66
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Re: Stumbled upon plane crash above Widow Mine

Post by Candace_66 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:16 pm

While searching for something else, I came across this old DV.net thread about this crash:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3062

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Death Valley Dazed
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Re: Stumbled upon plane crash above Widow Mine

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:18 am

Candace_66 wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:16 pm
I came across this old DV.net thread about this crashviewtopic.php?f=1&t=3062
Thanks, Candace, this is as complete of a report of the incident we will be able to learn from.
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