Topic Author's Original Post - May 21, 2005 - 10:35pm PT
In 1977 a plane loaded with dope crashed into Lower Merced Pass Lake. I knew the pilot and his wife since high school. His wife and I are working on co-authoring a book about the incident. I am looking for anyone that can recall any stories about what went on in the area during the first few weeks following the crash. We are not looking to expose anyone, we are looking for stories to add to what we already knew happened up to that night.I have talked to a few ex park employees that were there at the time and have gotten their take on things. Anyone else?
WB, yeah there is so much more to the story as most stories have.
Tell ya what, I'm interested in hearing from anyone that has first hand stories about things that happened either by them or around them because of this crash. Anyone is welcome to email me with anything they have. They don't have to include their names, but if so, we'll certainly give them credit.
We are also looking for stories about what might have ended up in something good for people. You know, business that were started, colleges that were attended, that kind of thing. After almost 30 years we know there are lives that got a kick start from this thing, we'd love to hear about it.
What is the statute of limitations on possible crimes that might have been committed?
For instance, if someone found and sold the mary jane at that time, could they still be prosecuted now?
Well, believe it or not, one of my brothers was working a gate at Yosemite back then. Now he's in law enforcement and I'm seeing him today. I'll pose that question to him. Not to play legal eagle here, but its hard for me to believe almost 30 years later that it would still put people jeopardy. So, hold your breath and I'll report back. I'd bet a google search would yield that info as well for those that don't want to take my word.
And as far as a "Yellow Alert" goes. As I've said, we aren't even looking for names, just stories.
I can't imagine chiming in on this thread--so far as personal involvement goes--even though I've written around the topic several times, especially in Rock Jocks. Hiking for dollars we used to call it . . .
I have always been intrigued by that story and found most details in Lynn Hills' book, and knew that John Long had a connection to Cliffhanger, but didn't know Largo wrote about it as well (Rock Jocks?).
Geezo...yeah kinda. Rick and Ricky were already taken. As a kid in Japan in 1954, our house maids couldn't pronounce Little Ricky, so it I was named Rittle Licky. Stuck with me all of these years. Came in handy in college
Perhaps people who were or were not involved would rather the subject was laid to rest. The seventies were a crazy time. Todays young people may not understand the climate in which our heros made those decisions. If you tarnish the reputations of those people you :
hurt the sport of climbing
ruin peoples reputations
may put sombody in jail
enrage law enforcement who will now view climbers as criminals
dont even know these people
encourage young people to screw up
people died dealing drugs from that plane. Perhaps you and your friends should be held responsible for that... okay? If you destroy good peoples image as climbing heros by spreading nasty rumors about it, we the climbing community will hold you responsible. If you really were related to the pilot then screw all this secrecy stuff. Put YOUR NAME up there and tell us all who YOU are and who your friends were and what illegal stuff THEY did. Nobody appreciates what you are trying to do. Expose yourself if you want to tell a story.
Leave the rest of the rumors were they are: Ancient history and probably BAD BETA!
As it was posted, my name and phone number is posted. As for the real story, what I'm going after is what happened AFTER the crash. When we complete the book, what we can tell about, we will. We aren't out to trash anyone's reputation, real or imagined.
If you have something you'd like to contribute, you are welcomed to call me or email me. Names or nameless, either way works for me.
Chainsaw wrote that a book on this subject will "enrage law enforcement who will now view climbers as criminals." What rock have you been under for ever, the Rangers hate climbers and its been that way for decades. Besides why should you or anyone have a say about wife of this pilot to write a book, ever hear of the 1st amendment. Seems like this guy Rick has said he doesn't want to expose any sensitive info regarding names
Also your drool about destroying peoples reputations is a canard that is worth a laugh or two. Climbing heros??? Oh come on, go climb for yourself and forget the hero's you regard as special, they could care less about you. The empty threat that "we the climbing community will hold you responsible." Oh yeah? I was at the lake in '77 and have been climbing in the valley for over thirty years and I encourage Rick and the wife of this pilot to publish a book. The climbing "community" is full of small groups of disconnected people with many different ideas and goals. There hasn't been a "community" for at least twenty years.
Not to harp on chainsaw or others that don't want to hear the real history of a great time in Yosemite and elsewhere along with filling in the holes in this story people have been interested for decades, but this wasn't the crime of the century and it's the folks that benefitted from hiking for dollars are in no risk of loosing face or homes, businesses, or the freedom they may enjoy now. History told in full and as accurate as possible is one of the fruits of our freedom we should all cherish. Censored history is so mundane, this story has many exiting, insightful things that will blow some minds.
Anyone who has ever loitered in the Valley long enough knows the story of J.L. & the 'dope plane' legend of Yosemite. There is a lot more slander & mudslinging going on various threads on this site, than what Rick could ever put in that book of his. And more power to you Rick (or Licky!), for doing more than most and actually doing something than just talking about it.
Oh, and Ballaroama-so eloquent, and to the point. You rock! Give these heathens the slap of reality!
I just spoke with the pilot's wife. She said I can publish her name to make the conversation easier. Its Pam.
Pam and I agree that in the book we'll be telling as much as possible about the events that led up to the date of the crash as well as what went on afterward from her perspective. As I've been hearing, no one has yet to be able to talk about where the plane was coming from or going to. That will all be told. It'll open many eyes.
As I relate some of the recent stories to Pam, she is actually saying, "This is getting to be fun." I'm glad she can have this kind of feeling after all of this time.
Keep 'em coming. If you know people and want to tell them what we're doing, please pass on my name, phone number or email addy.
One funny tidbit from the lake during the frenzy. One guy was really new to the back-country having never set foot into the mountains in summer let alone winter, he didn't have a clue about how dangerous the ice was covering the lake. It was a week or so after it got really busy and he didn't know that many holes had already been cut and re-froze. He fell through the ice and was rescued by a Canadian that all at ST have heard of. Of course he didn't learn and fell through a couple times only to be rescued by myself and this famous valley climber that went on to write books that many here have read (not largo).
One more thing of interest is why there seems to be no FAA incident report for this crash. Did some of the LE that hauled their own loads before the general public found out cover-up this incident to cover their take ?? Did the DEA-FBI-NPSLE cover-up some of their shady activity?? Wouldn't be the first time we've heard of such stuff.
And just to set things straight, Jack Dorn wasn't murdered, he fell off the YFT to his death in an accident unrelated to the plane and the little black book. Jack was a really good guy and I miss him as much as I miss Yabo.
Rick, when you talk to some of the people who visited the lake…. Get the lowdown on John Yablonsky. He is a climbing legend smiling down on us from climber heaven (bountiful virgin girls and virgin walls I am sure), and one of the legends I heard… John was always 2 dimes short of a quarter and for years lived off his wits plus the generosity of others. So Yabo being perhaps the most penniless of the poor, his “post airplane weed" shift in income bracket was seismic. He soon was decked out in the best and latest of outdoor gear.
Where my memory gets murky is the events that lead up to his loss said swag. The story I recall; he was hitchhiking (valley to LA or whatever). Got picked up by a car full of low-lives…… got a bad vibe that they meant him harm, so he dives from the moving vehicle and boogies full tilt. But… I also heard, read, recall something about a stolen VW bus with all his life possessions … later found burnt to a husk and empty. Fish or Viva Elvis prob know which is the true story …
It was recovered but it was deemed illegible by the Feds.
What did it contain? Names, addresses, dates, money owed, money paid. All encrypted (remember, not too many people running around with high end laptops back in the mid-70's. Many wanted the book, but the Feds ended up with it.
As I remember, the plane took off from Yosemite West and was flying a big loop back to Yosemite West just to fool the FAA, DEA, NPS, CHP, SPCA and all the rest. Seemed to work as nobody would suspect this. All the weed was grown up on Michaels Ledge and Lay Lady Ledge and was moved by bicycle up to the West for packaging. This might be the first time the truth has ever been written. I hope it does not get anyone in trouble.
I think all the bike registration was in the black book. This will be a tough one to sort out. What is the statute of limitations on bike registration? Plus, I bet a few of those bikes were stolen from the Ice Cream Stand at the lodge. Hmmmmm....
We worried that we didn't have a license for the 1,500 lamas that were going to be used to outpack the shredded wheat rolls. The plan was to air drop them the next morning in packs of six...Lama six packs!
I saw the whole thing unravel from the very, very begining before anybody out there knew anything. But I'm not talking until I get ok from the original guys ........and that's that. Actually the original crew should do the talking if anybody. I wouldn't be throwing peoples names around here either, just bad style unless you were there.
I was there from the very begining and the crew that you think were the first to see and remove anything were NOT the usual suspects posted above. And I would have agree with Werner, don't post names because it's really lame, hot rats eat 44 bullets for breakfast.
Besides the fact that there were many more players than even the players could imagine, parts of the story should not ever be published.
The incident inspired fiction beyond Largo's "premise" and the awful Cliffhanger. Jeff Long's fantastic (literally) novel Angels of Light, and the Nevada Barr mystery High Country, come to mind. Other examples?
30 years later I cant imagine anyone going to jail unless a more serious crime was involved other than distributing drugs and destroying peoples lives to turn a quick buck because one was too lazy to get a real job. Come on, a good report of the story would be interesting to read. Everyone knows there are people in all walks of life who try to cut corners and make a quick buck. If theyre afraid of being exposed as such maybe they should have thought twice before doing it. I cant wait for the book Licky! Good luck! Lets see who out there got their start the good old fashioned way, through Illegal activities!
Nerdie, don't be so quick to jump. (no pun intended). So far over half a dozen people have agreed to tell their stories so we can publish this book. Pam and I will be telling the entire story about how the plane got to that point, the gang that were there then will tell theirs, and we'll also tell about what went on after the crash as far as the investigation, lawsuits, and such.
To be honest, most have stepped forward with a hell of a lot of enthusiasm. No one seems to be holding back. When I post some of the things that I do, its to let people know that I'm not blow'n smoke here.
So far there are almost a dozen people that have agreed to interviews. The stories from many have been absolutly enlightening, not to mention funny as hell. I appreciate everyone that is coming forward, I'm sure more will in the next few weeks.
Rick- It was fun talking about this with you tonight.
Something good comes from everything.
From the devastating tragedy of Pam loosing her husband (and you your friend), came a summer of wealth and good spirits in the valley. It warms me that she (and you) can now write a book, and then perhaps close another volume in the encyclopedia of healing.
This book is a noble effort, and I encourage people to contribute.
That summer in the valley was one of my best. Half Dome with Mark. The river. Ballaroama and WB, I think we shared some happy ropes too. Bouldering with Yabo. And my friend who was on the initial find, but whom I wasn't to climb with until a year later in another state- we then realized we had honored the crashweed together a lot in C4. With Yabo, of course.
But both of the latter have long since deceased. They are missed. Still, I can even now conjure an image of Yabos bizarre fascial contortions while he cranked some hard boulders; the sound of pine needles crunching as he decks. Back when "spotters" were the guys who sat rolling, rather than holding their arms up under guys' butts as in these days.
This should be a good book, lots of input from those involved I hope.
I just heard an interesting story about a couple of guys from Yosemite that had attempted to go to Chamonix only to get hung up in a bordello in Bourdeux and ended up refocusing their attention to the point of spending everything they had.
Well I guess some folks dont understand what I mean. One person said that erasing history will cause young people to idolize these "strung out" climbers. Just the opposite, fool. The kids already idolize them, not necessarily a good thing or my fault. But since Lynn Hill and John Long are huge icons in climbing, to portray them as drug dealers and addicts is definately encouraging kids to try that path. Very likely the people involved may have never done any of the things you assume. Ugly rumors are not history. But if one of my kids trys pot or gets hurt because of your stupid book..... Again I say, write a book about what YOU did and expose yourself, not others. Are you a climber or just a muckraker? Or a con artist looking to get leverage against people I care about? Do the climbing community a favor: LEAVE.
Dear Licky, Your knowlege of the details of this "incident" suggests that you were involved with organized crime which has no statute of limitations. Furtheremore, your assets gained by criminal acts can be seized by the federal government at any time, without trial, indefinately after the fact. Also, your income tax evasion will lead to the same. Are you ready to answer alot of questions? Keep it up bud, we're keeping tabs on you. PS: watch out Largo, you're getting worked!
Hey Ballorama, your reply makes my point for me. If you think modern contemporaries will find reason in your argument that "pot took the edge off the acid" then spout on. And I'm not impressed that you have been in the valley for 30 years. That just means that you are still living in the 70's. I think I know who you are and you look like you have a lot of mileage. Drugs have messed up your mind. Who knows what you could have been if you hadnt wasted your life getting high. Are you really even experiencing climbing? Drugged out and anesthetized, I doubt you have the courage to climb without the cruch. What do your wife and kids think of your drug habit? Or did you miss out on that part of life, getting high instead. Rock on Ballorama, honestly I can relate to your sentiment having been a drugged out looser myself some 17 years ago. Funny thing is I grew up and got sober. I feel really sorry for you. But keep on promoting Licky's stupid ideas. Your support does him more damage than my criticism ever could.
The staute of limitations on felony drug charges is three years. If there are murder charges then there is no statute of limitation. If you have concerns about your situation please feel free to call me at (619) 743-0121 or email me directly. I am a criminal defense Lawyer. My primary practise is Federal drug crimes in southern California.
maybe I am a tool. The fact is licky can publish whatever he wants. Total hypocracy it is for some to wave the first ammendment at me. I never said he couldnt write these things. I merely expressed my and others opinions and frustration. Evidently those who have minority opinions are not allowed to speak them by your version of the constitution. I am brave enough to speak my mind regardless of what you think. I am not a sheep who follows people he is scared of. I have my own opinions and I am not afraid to be the only one to oppose lickys stupid book. And shame on this Pam lady for trying to profit from her husbands death. In my tradition, the dead are left in peace.
i heard a story about a guy nicknamed "chainsaw" ... he was the first guy to think of shelpping one in to the lake... he's legendary even. ..made 3 carries... .. spun his ill-gotten gains into stocks. . funded him on a first ascent spree that lasted near a decade...
chainsaw: "But if one of my kids trys pot or gets hurt because of your stupid book....."
sounds like you have more serious parenting issues if your kids are so fragile as to be tempted by such a book into doing stupid stuff. there are plenty of more compelling opportunities in their faces every day than a book about some old dudes they don't care about. then again, if the book is about you, you have some 'splaining to do! hard to walk the 'do as I say not as I do' rope as a parent.
spend more time building relationships with them and helping them form a strong independent identity, rather than trying to stop the creation of every temptation in the world. if your parenting is in any way similar to your forum exhortations, you are probably setting your kids up to lack judgment skills that they will need when presented with the very situations you are concerned about.
Here is what I heard, about 14th hand, about the first few days after the crash.....
The plane went in around Christmas 1976. Some hikers spotted it and let the NPS know. They hiked up there to do something about it but were caught in a big blizzard and almost died. They decided to wait until spring. A seasonal ranger, who was also a climber, heard about what had happened and then the fun began.
Some other tidbits that I expereinced in the spring 1977 first hand.
I remember the US Customs finally going up to the lake and using helicopters and divers to do a lot of the recovery (of what was left!). I just had to pimp these guys a bit and talked to some of them in El Cap Meadow (where the choppers landed). The Customs guys told me they were doing "training" up in the mountains.
Maybe my memory is fading a bit, but I swear this happened. When the Customs folks realized what had happened, they decided to try and infiltrate Camp 4 and get some information. I remember one guy wearing lederhosen, a grean felt hat and klunky mountain boots coming up to me and asking where he could get some "stuff". It was like a bad "Get Smart" episode!
Whatever chainsaw, yawn. I could care less what you think of me and I'll bet you don't know who I am. Do you really care? I love the part about the wife and kids, yeah, if you don't have a family your a looser. Go preach somewhere else jackass.
edit: just tried to call Rob Trelford - aka chainsaw, and the schmuck hung up on me. With a little research I found he is a coach for USA climbing and the bad influence on the kids he coaches maybe has something to do with his worry about the book.
Piss off Rob. Saw a photo of you on the web and can assure you we have never met. I am in the Valley right now if you wish to talk. Come on up and see me!
But with the idiotic slander you spewed my direction is pretty funny stuff. So all your slander must be directed at the person you assume me to be. I haven't consumed any recreational drugs for more than a decade Rob and for someone that coaches children you should be ashamed of yourself for spewing divisive garbage that increases the chances of your of your students becoming idiots like you. Rob Mr.USA CLIMBING, you should hold yourself to a higher standard when you preach your pathetic gospel. For the guy that posted something about "hero's" your blather is really funny because some of these hero's of yours were big time drug addicts as opposed to myself.
Chainsaw was that one crazy mofu-cker waving that saw around when he accidentally sawed half his head open. Guys came running over and had to stuff his brains back in and use a speedy stitcher to sew him back up, as the story goes.
Chainsaw is Rob Trelford from USA climbing so his ranting about "were watching you" is very interesting. Is USA climbing a Law Enforcement agency Rob? Just wondering if you teach those gym rats to be rats???? You suck Rob and though I haven't met you like you think, I know know who you are now and I can't wait to have a word with you in person. Piss off coach bitch and pull on some plastic while you pull your pudd chump.
Can't help but add a few things about ROB TREFOLDS mentoring of kids at USA Climbing. Here is a guy that obviously thinks we should hide the truth from developing minds when of course the truth shall set them free. Bastardized history should be used for birdcage liner not the propaganda tool for christo-fascist bigots like you. In the words of Bob Marley "Tell the children the truth". If you were worthy mentor you would a better understanding of history. So what if this book gets published, Rick has already stated he has no plans on exposing names (scroll up) so I don't know what you are worried about. Maybe you want all youth to be singing Onward Christian Soldiers along with you cause it makes you feel good??
Alright I give up. I'm sick of dealing with you. The forum was supposed to be for discussing ideas and opinions. Not for hunting down and harrassing people. Calling me at home was a very bad idea as is lickys book. Do not ever contact me again or I will take legal action against you. I have nothing to do with what happened at the lake, but it continues to haunt the entire climbing community. A dark specter to be erased, not glorified.
And yes I am a USA Climbing coach. At USAC we discourage drug use and the self destructive mentality that goes with it. You are the one with bad judgement, not me. I have stood up and spoken out against drug use by climbers and against glorifying the stupid things people did in the seventies. My strongest climber and gymnast just washed up because she got sucked into her mother's crank and coke world. Tragic. It is easy to say that diluting the temptation out of their world doesnt help. Perhaps you are right. But when you loose your loved ones to jails institutions and death it leaves one pretty upset and wanting to do something about it.
And you can call it co-dependance if you like. All that idealistic crap about letting go sucks. It is easy to say but impossible to live. Yea maybe my mind is messed up from all the suffering that sh#t has caused me and others. I lost my mother and a sister to drugs. My mother is a hardcore valium addict. My oldest sister died recently of a heroin overdose in Canada. Her husband was a dealer. Another personal friend of mine was likely killed in Humbolt last year over a deal gone bad. No-one knows what happened to him but the FBI would like to know. This is not a f*#king game people.
Stop what you are doing and think about the consequences. Of the thousands of young people who will read this book if even one chooses to "try this at home" then it was not worth it. Take responsibility for your actions. And I can see your rhetoric coming; "well why dont you take responsibility for your own sh#t, chainsaw, and stop blaming others?" The fact is I was the helpless unwilling child who had no choice but to live with that sh#t for ten awful years. And yes it f*#ked me up bad. Maybe I am crazy. I would do anything to take it back but I cant. I would do anything to save even one child from the suffering I have known at the hands of addiction. And I do not have any children of my own because of it. I am the looser with no family because drugs destroyed it. And then I chose to follow in the footsteps of my heros at the time. Unfortunately they were pop culture icons and musicians. Their influence led me down the path to destruction. Since then I have earned two degrees, I have a masters and I work as a biology professor. I have pulled myself up out of the dark and taken responsibility. I am the one in nine who makes it back from where I went. The other eight are dead and gone.
I coach a climbing team of kids who need my help to stay straight. I help other peoples kids deal with alot of problems their parents cant even begin to understand. I have learned that the Davis junior highs now have heroin and cocaine sold there. My kids tell me the things their parents couldnt hear. I know what they are dealing with and I shudder everytime another one goes down the tube.
Its funny how people have so much hatred and anger towards me just for my opinion. Can it be that in your heart you know that what I say is true? Furthermore, if you dont care what I think then why did you violate the privacy of my handle and call me at home? That kind of action is taking things too far. If you dont like what I have to say then dont read it. Calling me at home and threatening me is outrageoous. And you say "I have not done recreational drugs in ten years" If you have actually cleaned up your act then why do you support the glorification of something you yourself have finally accepted as wrong. I know my delivery is pretty confrontational. Just remember this famous quote; The truth is first disregarded as nonsense, then violently opposed and finally accepted as self evident. In my mind what I have said is very self evident. All the deaths and problems associated with the lake incident make it pretty clear. If you want to continue to violently oppose what I have said then go ahead but I will not be listening. As of right now I am dropping out of the forum and discontinuing my supertopo membership. I am not interested in associating with people like licky and balloramma and so far that is what I have found on that site.
I do know of one climber from Davis who would hopefully support what I have said. She was smart enough to stay out of drugs, unlike many of her cohorts at that little gym. Where are you Beth?
Fair enough Rob, and my condolences about your family members and others you know that have died due to drugs. I will not call you again as well, no worries but I couldn't help it knowing all along who you were. You stepped into the forum and look what happened, you got called on your BS. Don't imply threats have been offered by me, not so. Unless you consider wishing to talk it over a threat.
Alright ballaroama. I apologize. You have a right to your opinion. But publishing my name while you remain annonymous is cowardly and disrespects the spirit of the forum. People may wish to be annonymous so they can speak honestly. Now I am afraid to speak honestly about anything because you had the nerve to call me at home. And trust me, you do not want to meet me in person. Incidentally, Bob Marley whom you quote died untimely of lung cancer related to his overuse of pot. Didnt you know that? If I am to tell the children the truth as I see it, then I say the truth is :dont do drugs. they destroy people. that is the dark side. If you do drugs your life will be affected in ways you cannot understand until it is too late. And as far as barging into the forum, that is what it is for. And everything in it is pretty much venting and BS. calling me at home means that you obviously take it too seriously. Now i am taking it very seriously because you threatened me. And why do you hate Christians so much? My opinion has nothing to do with it. I dont believe in churches and all their dogma. seventeen years ago I would have actually argued in favor of your point of view. but life lessons, not dogma are what I base my opinions on.
Anyway, truce okay? I will gladly listen to what you have to say as you have done for me and I respect that. Sorry if my emotions got away from me. But when your loved ones die, it changes you forever. I will never recover from what happened to me. All I can do now is try to help others avoid that. And as far as the gym rat stuff goes, you are way off. My kids are becoming trad leaders like me. I was a professional arborist for a long time and I've had my share of close calls. If I were stoned when those things happened I would have gotten killed many times over. Climbing at the level I do outdoors requires 100 percent of my focus and I cannot afford to be high. It might not even be me who dies as a result of my own stupidity if I were to climb stoned. Guiding children in the outdoors is not something for stoned people to do. And what would their parents think? They have a right to know that their kids are safe. I am their protector. Why do you think I reacted the way i did? i see this book as a threat to their welfare.
I guess I will stay in the forum a bit longer to see if we can resolve at least not to do anything stupid. OKAY?
This book is a threat to peoples welfare? Glorification? "But if one of my kids trys pot or gets hurt because of your stupid book"
Holy Moly do always put the blame on everything outside of you? This whole world is a nut house and it’s your job to educate to differentiate between right and wrong. You’re the scary guy Chainsaw, what kinda name is that? I had visions of that crazy mofu-cker in that movie with that chainsaw. Plus you came in here anonymous. An upstanding citizen like you shouldn’t be hiding behind some wall? You should’ve been in the clear since day one and spoke your drool.
Command the respect that you deserve!
I’m not hiding anywhere, I use my real identity. Then you threaten Largo wtf is wrong with you man. Now Ballaroama I have a good idea who he is, smart dude to be able to pull you out of the hat like that. He published your name because you started the original threats. Largo isn’t hiding either. And your teaching our future generation with this kind of display?
Ok …. You’re forgiven we all are screw-ups at times.
Looking forward to a more super-dialog.
I apologize as well and some of the things I posted were out of line as was calling you. I think the point you make is valid and I was wrong to say you are a lousy mentor, it's obvious your a good person. What we disagree on about publishing this book is kinda out of our hands and I know your concern but i still think it would be a great story for many. I wasn't calling you to make a threat, I really did wish to have a conversation about how you though you knew me. Enough of that jive, I think we can agree to have opinions about this book that are not going to mesh with one another. Sorry again for stepping over the line, it wasn't meant to be as nasty as some here think, SPICY THREADS GET ATTENTION DON'T THEY!!
Bashing religion is in bad taste and I have my reasons for disliking some christians. I don't know you so what i said was really awful and I apologize.
Make no doubt about it -- this is the best thread I've seen in ages.
Very entertaining on many different levels. Since I've been the victim of internet
stalkers--which led me to coin the legendary Internet Bitches™
moniker--it really got my attention when I saw this:
Dear Licky, Your knowlege of the details of this "incident" suggests that you were involved with organized crime which has no statute of limitations. Furtheremore, your assets gained by criminal acts can be seized by the federal government at any time, without trial, indefinately after the fact. Also, your income tax evasion will lead to the same. Are you ready to answer alot of questions? Keep it up bud, we're keeping tabs on you. PS: watch out Largo, you're getting worked!
Chainsaw, I think you have fairly redeemed yourself with your subsequent, heart-felt posts.
But if something like the above was directed at me--I probably would have done the same.
(as in contacting you to have a man-to-man talk--at least on the phone)
While I can understand your sentiment, I think you are projecting way too much.
It's funny when pot gets lumped into the "drugs" category, while nothing is said
about alcohol, which is profoundly more damaging on so many different levels.
(however, I'm doing rather well on 2 to 4 beers a day, thank you very much)
I admire your passion in trying to be a positive influence in kids lives,
and trying to show them a better way. The 30-year old Plane Crash story
isn't glorifying drugs in my humble opinion--it's about a bunch of folks
living at the sub-poverty level who were lucky enough to be in the right place
at the right time when a once-in-a-lifetime manna rained down from the heavens--
and made life easier for a bunch of folks. If someone actually died later in some
way related to this, well, that's life in the big city. People die every day over much
more mundane things, such as stupid road-rage incidents.
The OP has made it quite clear that he isn't naming names, FWIW.
There's obviously a lot of interest in this story; it ain't gonna go away.
Anyway, thanks for what you do. You should be proud.
Chainsaw wrote: "Bob Marley whom you quote died untimely of lung cancer related to his overuse of pot. Didnt you know that?"
Probably not relevant to the discussion, but for all those who may care or be curious, I am 99% sure Bob Marley actually died of brain cancer. The form of cancer he had was malignant melanoma – and if the story I remember is correct, doctors originally found cancer cells on one of his big toes - it started out as skin cancer and then spread.
Chainsaw how about teaching your kids about potential consequences for their actions. If I remember right a whole generation of kids were real upset about being lied to and having information withheld from them. Seems a lot of these young people rebelled by turning to drugs and other illegal activities. DONT make the same mistakes our parents made!
By the way this activity does not reach the threshhold for ongoing criminal enterprise. Worse case senerio it is a conspiracy which has a 5 year statute of limitations. There is also no nexis 25 years later for criminal forfieture.
So I was gonna keep my trap shut about this post UNTIL...... Chainsaw - above you mentioned that Bob Marley died of lung cancer from smoking pot.
You realize thats completely wrong right? He got cancer in his big toe, left it untreated and it spread to his brain.
If I recall correctly, the boo had a special taste, feel to it: All shake, powerful expansion with overtones of lake water and 110 octane av-gas, Very nice.
Go write your book, please do a good job, I will buy one.
Jack was drunk that night just like I was except he decided to hike up the trail and I didn’t because I knew I was hosed. The party in question was on the Yosemite Point Buttress not El Cap. They got caught in the dark and wanted off.
He walked off the trail man because he was drunk! Nobody pushed him for crying out loud. It was that stupid dumb ass who wrote that first book Angels of WTF it’s called. He asked me a bunch of questions when he was researching stories for his book. He told me it was going to be semi fiction. He started all those idiotic rumors about Jack. He told me he was going to write it like that.
I can show anyone the exact spot and you’ll see very quickly how someone, not even intoxicated, can easily walk off the trail, what to speak of being hammered. It was night time and late.
WHEN I FOUND THE WEED IN LATE 76, IT WAS GOOD DAY. I HAD JUST COME OFF OF THE FIRST UNREPORTED FREE ASCENT OF THE ZOD (IN WINTER MIND YOU - PORTER WAS A PUSSY) AND, BEING THE HARDMAN I AM, DECIDED TO HIKE OUT THROUGH THE MEADOWS FOR SPORT. I SAW THE PLAN OVERHEAD AND DECIDED IT WOULD BE A GOOD TIME FOR A SMOKE BREAK. AS I LIT MY MOSTER DOOBIE TO TAKE THE EDGE OFF OF THE ACID, MY ZIPPO CAUGHT THE SUNS RAYS AND APPARENTLY FLASHED A BLINDING LIGHT AT THE PILOT BECAUSE IT WAS AT THIS TIME THE PLAN CAME NOSE DIVING DOWN. WHEN THE PLANE HIT, THERE WAS CARNAGE EVERYWHERE (OH YEAH, CONDOLENCES TO YOU AND YOURS). I WAS DEVISTATED BUT ONLY FOR A TIME. AFTER TRAVERSING THE FROZEN POND, AND FINDING NO SURVIORS, I STARTED TO HEAD BACK. HOWEVER, A LARGE TRASH BAG FULL OF WEED CAUGHT MY EYE. NOW I WAS HAPPY. I LOADED THE WEED INTO MY HAULBAG (ACTUALLY IT WAS A MAIL BAG) AND STARTED TO HIKE OUT. IT WAS THEN I SAW THE BLACK BOOK, WHICH I TOOK WITH ME AND STILL HAVE TO THIS DAY. (I USE IT TO BLACKMAIL PEOPLE DUE TO THE STATUE OF LIMITATION NOT BEING UP YET). ANYHOW, I HIKED BACK DOWN TO CAMP 4 AND SOLD AND SMOKED ALOT OF IT. I DON'T KNOW WHAT I DID WITH THE MONEY I MADE FROM THE WEED. I KNOW I BOUGHT SOME GEAR, SOME PUSSY AND SOME BEER WITH IT. THAT IS ABOUT ALL I REMEMBER FROM 1977. I DO THINK I HAD A GOOD TIME, BUT DON'T REALLY KNOW. I DO KNOW THAT I DIDN'T START A BUSINESS, USE THE MONEY FOR COLLEGE OR DO ANYTHING PRODUCTIVE WITH IT - I GUESS YOU COULD SAY THAT WEED RUINED MY LIFE. I WISHED I HAD THE FORESIGHT TO HAVE STARTED USA CLIMBING AS THAT PROBABLY WOULD HAVE SAVED ME.
THE LAST BASTION OF THE SERIOUS WEED SMOKER OF 77.
Burt- Good to hear from you! What have you been doing lately? I was thinking about doing some early season training. I was thinking of girdling every mountian in the Himalayans in a single push, alpine style. My question is this: I was planning on taking two hard boiled eggs with me. Does this mean I'm light?
Also, the next day, I might check out the Karakorum. Is there anything worth doing in that choss heap of a mountain range?
Maybe I'll see you out there.
Wow! I really pissed alot of people off. I guess that is what I wanted but when you ask for something you get it. Now I regret my actions and respectfully apollogize to all, especially to ballaroama who was a better man than I for his sincere apologies and willingness to get along with me. I was really mad about the subject when I wrote about it and I should have just chilled. Maybe I am a bit sick in the head after all I went through with drugs and pot. I have now posted a reply to "Airplane book one" about my understanding of what happened. My information comes from people who live in columbia and worked with me at the high sierra music festival in bear valley ca. I was the trash and recycling director there from 1997 to 1999. I've picked up and dug through alot of trash in my time so this stuff is very familliar. Sometimes writing into a computer screen doesnt feel like personal communication so I just vented, not considering the feelings of people who received my lambasts. Inexcusible. Oh well, cant take it back... like too many things I've done.
and about johns books; I never will stop teaching with those books. His writings on climbing have been a huge inspiration and his words of wisdom may be why I survived this long as a climber. If anyone thought I was trying to call him a "drug dealer" I mean just the opposite. I feel that lickys book is what does that and hense my anger and frustration.
And to you Largo, I am sorry I spoke on your behalf thinking I was protecting you. You dont need my help and choose your own destiny. I have no right to expect you to set a good example but I hope you continue to do so and avoid all this mud that is slinging around the subject of weed.
It appears that Chainsaw has calmed down as everyone else. I have to say I appreciate both the support and the level headedness that most used during this past flame (out).
Just an up date for those that have been following this thread.
I've just recieved a CD containing photos of the crash site. These images were taken by the investigating crew and are now public domain. Very interesting stuff. Some of the images show the lake with holes cut into it with chainsaws. Who0 would have thunked?
Interesting, I just got an email from a howard who says he is forwarding my post about jupiter to the sherrif dept. so much for your fantasy of open conversations...I told you this would happen! I really dont care what he does since it is all just rumor...be careful what you say....there are others watching. And it is amazing how well a bit of fantasy misinformation threw everybody off the trail of JL and LH. I guess my plan worked, although it sucks being the one to take a fall for the team. That is always my job. I guess that is why I am the coach.
I lost track of this thread but glossed through it just now and wonder how the thing heated up so. I lost interest in the whole plane thing not because it wasn't interesting at the time, but because it happened nearly 30 years ago. It's over, done, finished. And I quite smoking weed before my firt daughter was born--17 years ago--so the weed thing is now about as romantic as bong water.
It was exciting then, but the thing bores the sh#t our of me now . . .
Rokjox...great stuff! As for people feeling hesitant to want to talk, I can understand that. This is why I'm telling those that do want to talk to us, we'll do it any way they want. Hell, if they want to put it on an etch-a-sketch just to make sure it can be erased...that's cool too. As I've said, we won't be using names anyway.
And for Chainsaw. Well, guy, all I can say is if you post bullsh#t, you'll sooner or later have to clean it up or as Rokjox points out, edit quickly. I know who the guy is that sent you that email. I'd say you'll probably be having your own interviews in the near future. Me(?), I'm still talking about 30 years ago, not today.
Jack's death has bothered me for 28 years due to these 2 pieces of information. First, I knew Jack and had a long talk with him approx. a week before he died. He told me he had gone into the cockpit and retrieved a notebook and a bag of coke. He had looked at the notebook and was scared shitless at what he had found due to the high profile names of the investors. He expressed the fear that if it got known that he had the book he was as good as dead. The second piece of info was another friend who didn't know jack was this; he was a vietnam vet, rough around the edges who in making a visit to the va hospital in the bay area was approached by an acquaintance and told that some people were very interested in retrieving the notebook and a hit was out for whoever had it. Shortly thereafter Jack died. I'm sorry but I think Jack was murdered.
Highly speculative hypotheses. The so called murderer would have had to be on scene during that YOSAR incident. So called murderer would have to have known the subtle layout of the Yosemite Falls Trail due to the time Jack was killed, at night. He would have had to know exactly the best places where to make it look like a accident. Not something a murderer would be able to think or plan out because of the nature of rescues. They happen at any time, anywhere, with too many witnesses around. Not a murdering type plan at all, no secrecy.
Remember, Jack had been drinking heavily that night ………….
Since I am not privy to the accident investigation that was done following Jack's death I don't know his level of ontoxication. I do know the one spot on the trail that someone could fall quite easily to their death. It is not such a tripping hazard that the park service has put a railing or wall up nor has anyone else tripped and fallen to their death that I am aware of. For Jack to fall at that exact spot I would imagine that he would have been stumbling quite heavily in many other parts of the trail that are much more uneven. In my mind that would mean he would have been going quite a bit slower than the rest of the team and perhaps lagging far behind. If I remember correctly there were no witnesses to his fall and it was some time before it was discovered what had happened to him. It is hard to imagine someone in camp 4 watching Jack for the chance to off him yet if they were, that was the perfect opportunity to follow behind him and at the right moment nudge him gently into the void. I would be interested to know if the SAR team was interviewed to ascertain Jacks condition leading up to his death and his level of inebriation. Perhaps it was divine intervention that led him to take that fall but given what I stated previously I am far less than certain that it was an accident. Jack was a decent enough human being that he deserves a thorough investigation as to the events that led up to his death.
There was two groups that were interested in the "Black Book." The Feds because it could implicate "partners" as well as Pam. The other was Pam's attorney at the time. He came in from out of town in an attempt to find out information as to where the book was. It would have been advantageous from a defense stand point to have the book magically disappear.
The book ended up in the Reno Nevada office of the DEA. I have a copy of the letter from the legal office of the Department of the Interior written to Pam's attorney. They give an explanation as to the where abouts of the book. I also have a copy of the pilot's death certificate. It speaks volumes about what may or may not have contributed to the crash.
I realize that for some, or for many, the idea of the mysterious black book and all of the bad juju surrounding it helps magnify the legend(s) surrounding this incident. Right now I'm not going to spend a lot of time dispelling most of them. I think it will be more dramatic when the entire picture is presented in our book. So for now, I think speculation on many of these issues is healthy. Hell, it gives me a chance to hear that one person say something that tells me "yep, you were there weren't you?"
A side bar to comments regarding Jack's death or more aptly a related question for Werner. WB: A good friend of mine died on the falls trail at night during a SAR. I think it was the year after Jack's death as I remember it as 1976 but it could of been 1977. He was a lanky/skinny blonde headed kid and I remember his name as Steve. I think he worked with me at the Ahwahnee that summer.
Do you remember a second death on the falls trail during a SAR around that time period? I just recall being shocked that he had died when the following day all my friends told me he walked off the trail at night during a rescue. Appreciate the info if you remember, Theo
A good friend of mine died on the falls trail at night during a SAR.
Yosar has had only one fatality ever, Jack Dorn.
This is the account from "Accidents in Mountain Rescue Operations"
Experienced rescuer walks off the trail and falls to his death
On May 23, 1977, two climbers, Larry Day (26) and Donald Evans (23), began an attempt to climb the Yosemite Buttress in Yosemite National Park. Although they each had some experience, neither was prepared for bad weather or an overnight bivouac. The two climbers stumbled up the route, and as rain fell, their problems increased. Ultimately, Evans fell and injured himself, and Day called for help. He was told that rescuers would be coming in the morning.
Six rescuers started walking up an established trail up Yosemite Falls trail at 3:30 a.m. the following morning in search of the ill-prepared rock climbers who had cried out in the dark. For an unknown reason, Yosemite volunteer Jack Dorn walked off a well-worn path and plunged 400-600 feet to his death. He had been wearing a portable tape player at the time of the accident.
He just sent me a DVD of his presentation in the Valley. Complete with Nevada Barr's narrative and his dissertation on what he calls "Dope Lake." All of his photos from the scene, even a shot of him wearing his Tee Shirt! Great stuff.
For those that are semi-following this thread, I thought a little up date might be in order. I want to first thank those that have either called or emailed me with their stories. Many, more than fifteen now have agreed to tell their stories to me personally and quite a few others are doing so via email or phone. As you can well imagine, the stories are a mix of some pretty great stuff, and also repeats. It appears that if everyone didn't go up together on the same day, they sure did it over a fairly short and swift period of time. Probably made a well worn route. I'd not be surprised if after the book is published that a marked trail of some sort might all of a sudden appear. Suggest a name for the route and we might use it.
I may have found one of original Tee Shirts in good condition. I suggested to the owner that he hang on to it until after the book is published. He's going to send photos of it shortly.
GWB called and said he recalled having a nasty cough back then. Never did figure out what gave it to him. I guess it got around.LOL
Stay tuned, but I'll not bore people with daily up dates.
Thanks again to everyone...its greatly appreciated!
Licky, Your book is a wonderful idea.
I was living in the Valley then, but never made it to the Lake.
I haven't made it through all the replies on this page yet, so this topic may have already been covered.
There was a rumor that the Tool found a suitecase full of cocaine. Did it exist? What happened to it? Does anyone know?
P.S. I have one of those shirts somewhere. When I find it I'll send you a photo. I have the "GO JUMP IN THE LAKE" shirt, not the original "I GOT MINE"
Imagine a case full of coke sitting in a mountain lake from a day to as long as a few weeks. I'd be afraid of stepping in the water lest my feet would go to sleep.
On the other hand, if "Tool" wants to get a hold of me via phone/email addy I'm sure we can both confirm nor deny to what was there. Always makes for some good adventure...js
A photo of the shirt would be great! Thanks in advance.
By the way. One of the four original guys that found the plane wreck was named John Freeman. He and his wife both worked in the park back then. John died 10 years ago. I'd love to get ahold of either his wife or any of the other three that were with him. If anyone knew these people, please pass my personal contact info on to them.
Well, then here is the real scoop. The deal was that no coke or guns would be run. If there was any coke on board the plane, it wasn't part what they did on a regular basis, so its more legend than fact.
Now let the "Tool" come forward with their side of the story.
Probably a quick up date for those that are following the saga.
One of the four guys that originally found the crash and reported it to NPS died about ten years ago. Someone reading this thread new him and put me in touch with his wife. She just contacted me and has agreed to tell me what she remembers.
Jaybro...probably not for a year or so. Pam says it'll take her at least six months to put together the story about the plane and that side of the story. I'm still hunting down people from the investigation side.
I met Jack in spring '76. Great guy, always fun to be around. In December he headed east with my partner Bob Anderson. He gave me his address in New York, but I didn't get back there so we met again in the valley in May.
If Werner says he was drunk I believe him but I saw Jack earlier that day and he was walking OK. Plus he KNEW that trail.
I'm always going to wonder....
Glad I named a line on the big stone for him. He lives on in Yosemite lore.
Just a quick up date as its been a while since my last post.
We've talked to a number of people that were there during the event. Not all were among the climbers so we are now getting a quite a different view from those on the outside of the climbing community. I've even managed to find some of the original Park Rangers that were up at the lake as "guards" so no more of the "cargo" was removed.
It appears that pretty much only climbers were the ones that made it up to the plane other than those that originally found it. The image that the "others" had/have of the climbers from back then have been pretty interesting. Nothing negative by the way.
"With a broad white smile, she lifted her eyes from the bale and swept her skis up and around, reversing direction for the climb uphill. Only then did she notice that on every side, upslope and all the way down to the lake, she was surrounded by lumps of snow, a whole buried herd of them, each no different from this one."
Mr T...the only problem to the scenario is that in December of 1976, the Sierra was having a nasty drought. I have reports of people hiking up to the lake (9,000 foot level) in tennis shoes. I also have photos taken at the site that show quite a lot of dirt instead of foots of snow.
If I could figure out how to post photos to this board I'd start showing some of the stuff that is public domain. Only problem...I can't see a simple click this button to load an image. If someone can help...please.
Go to Image Shack and sign up. It's free. Download the quick uplink feature. Upload your photos to Image Shack. Then you can use the ST help. I just put the photos in a folder on my desktop, Right click a photo, click on the send to Image Shack, when it shows up, click the picture to enlarge it, right click it, click properties, highlight the URL, rightclick it, hit copy, then go to the thread on ST. type the tags type[, then img,followed by ] rightclick, hit paste, the URL will show up, then type same tag at end,except put/in front of img, then post it. There are probably easier ways but this is the way I have always done it and you can see what your picture will look like in the thread. Also the size. To post several photos at once, you can line them up in your e-mail or somewhere, then copy and paste the whole mess in at once. You will need to get your pictures on the internet to post them.
Ok, give me a little while and I'll get the hang of this.
This photo is of the Rangers, after they've scared off the "harvesters" and are now cutting holes in the lake to retrieve the 40 pound bales of dope that are just under the surface.
Blitzo, very close. Utica. I've decided that a chapter needs to be dedicated to Jack Dorn. I'd love to talk to you or anyone else that knew him. If you have any stories to share about Jack, please email me so we can get in touch.
If anyone has been following this adventure, the doors keep opening. Currently I am doing research on the history of the plane as well as the pilot & copilot.
Licky. you keep saying that you will take storys without names. If you are trying to write a serious book that seems risky. I certainly understand not publishing names but it would seem that you would have to validate storys and make suer that you are not writeing a bunch of BS from an annomos source.
Thin ice, all of this. Find out who did what that year, round up the usual suspects and contact in person. It's called research. There's lots on the record that could make a better story than second-hand information.
"If a load of marijuana dropped from the skies (as it did one spring in the Valley), it was heven-sent."
It was supposed to be soaked in Av fuel, though that never bothered me.
So far everyone I have talked to have identified themselves. I have met with them personally or via the phone. Some have asked not to be named in the book, but they have had no problem talking to me. This includes some big time players that have had nothing to do with the climbing scene.
In the over all scheme of things for this book, the events surrounding two or three dozen guys that tell their stories about what they did with their share of the cargo will only fill one if barely two chapters. Many things went on prior to and after the plane crash. Hell, they are STILL going on including what I am learning as of just last week. The Jack Dorn story is probably a good example. Lots of rumor, lots of guessing.
The story is coming together very quickly and to those that have provided insights as to the different facets of this event, thank you. To those that never had anything to do with it, yet to this day speak as if they do, well...you know the real story. I am not out to expose those that didn't nor am I out to expose those that did.
If I can't verify the validity of a story with at least three others that were there at the same time, I'll publish that info as just that. People can read and make their own minds up. But I will not print the info as the gospel. Lets not forget that this event happened 30 years ago. Longer than a lot of those that post on this board are old. People not only forget, they tend to fill in the gaps as best they can. Stories need to make sense when you tell them.
And for those few that seem to think this is nothing more than a legend, you need to spend a little more time reading. This event changed the future for many people. Directly or indirectly, it was one of those events that eventually touched thousands. Just go rent Sylvester Stallone's movie, "Cliff Hanger" and you'll know what I mean.
Now here is an unusual one. For over thirty years everyone thought that the plane was a Lockheed Lodestar. Thus the name, "Lodestar Lightning"....yes/no? Wrong. The plane was not a Lockheed Lodestar but instead it was a...uh....umm....
EDIT: The specs at this link for the Lockheed PV-1 indicate a maximum payload (fuel, crew and cargo) of 10,000 pounds, so carrying 6 tons of headache weed was, apparently, beyond the scope of its intended use.
I heard second-hand (from an aerospace engineering professor at Cal Poly) that early aluminum airplanes had fatigue failure problems. Like bending a coat hanger back and forth until it breaks, the wing spars (or whatever) would flex until cracks developed. The vibration from the engines could also do this.
EDIT: The stock engines were two monster radials:
Pratt & Whitney R-2800-31 Double Wasp, 18 cylinders, 2000 hp
This engine powered the F8F Bearcat, which had the record time-to-altitude climb for piston aircraft (and still might).
Only a turboprop would have given better performance.
EDIT: My father was flying his Piper Cherokee from Reno back to Concord (Bay Area) and caught a rather nasty downdraft that caused the plane to lose thousands of feet very quickly. He was able to controllably crash it into the mountain. He and the passenger walked way, totally unhurt. This sort of thing might have contributed to the wing failure.
Suggests slightly higher load carrying ability. The later models could carry 1600 gallons of fuel which is nearly 10,000 pounds.
I suspect that you are right, that there were not 12,000 pounds of weed (dry) on board. But it does seem reasonable that you could put enough in that it was loaded above manual takeoff limits with nearly full fuel tanks. Keep in mind that the flight was in December, so denser air would help takeoff performance. I suppose knowing the terrain around "Baja" would help.
Max range was under 1000 miles so they could have calculated being well under limits for landing with low fuel at end of flight. Weather (especially around mountain tops), loading, and fatigue in a fairly old aircraft might believably result in some sort of airframe failure and separation in flight.
Of course, one could just buy a copy of the full report...
Another interesting point. Yes, the plane started off as a Lockheed PV-1 Ventura, but was "slightly" modified. It had a very interesting if not colorful history prior to becoming a drug running aircraft.
Another up date is due for those that are following this thread.
Today I interviewed the guy that found the wing in the trees that launched the event. When he saw it, he thought he was looking at a man made fence, at the 8,700 foot level in the middle of the Sierra wilderness. The wing was on edge and looked completely out of place. It was white and had it been laying flat on the ground, this guy might have walked right by it since he saw it from quite a distance from the trail they were on.
I also now have some great photos of the lake and the melee that went on during Easter Weekend. So if anyone was up at the lake at that time you will probably appreciate the photos.
This is a tough day for the families and friends of the pilots that crashed into Lower Merced Pass Lake. It is now the 30th anniversary of the plane crash and their death, December 9, 1976.
On a lighter note, It is also the 30th anniversary for those that found the plane and its cargo that helped launch the event that made the future for quite a few others. Whether it was simply purchasing that van and a ton of eight track tapes or providing the fodder for a book/movie, today is the day that sits heavy in quite a few minds.
If the wing that Ron Lykins had found was laying flat on the ground, things would have been very different for many today. Careers would not have been launched as they were.
I know this is a climbing forum, but everyone ought to stop and think about how much this event figured into the advancement of of the big wall craft.
Chad, it moves at different speeds. I now know what they mean about writer's block. It seems like some days I can't figure out where the "any key" is and other days I'm up to 3am punching away like its my last day.
Finally have the entire military and civilian history of the aircraft. That in itself was no small feat. Next week I talk to the guy that was instrumental in introducing the pilots to the partners.
In early February of 1977 a guy showed up possibly in Camp 4 one night that told a bunch of guys sitting around a camp fire, what he described as "hard core climbers", about the plane, its location, and its cargo. If there is anyone that can recall his presence, please drop me a line.
Just talked to the #2 guy in the "organization". Yep, he is still around. The #1 guy was found in his car in not a too friendly condition. The #2 guy has stories about the plane, the loads, the trips and the money that are amazing. To think that those of you....and you know of whom I speak....participated in an adventure of the magnitude that was will probably boggle the mind.
Wasn't coke smaller amount, vial? Found with B Book?
Not all stash was fuel soaked?
Not all stashed stash was just stashed close and only under snow?
How many were arrested hiking out? Think maybe illegal search of back pack was the out?
When I first found this tread I thought I was east No. Conway, Gunk’s and few other places till infected toe would not allow EBs. But that was 78 Peers , Loeks remember ?
Just remember asking ranger from dif. Park what said stuff was. Her reply was don't you know? Plane, lake ect. I arrived in the valley same day the feds did. As if I had not learned my lessons in Baja 1970 and St.Tom 73. For me it would have been just another repeat in 77, probably worse. For me climbing got me away from what not.
So my worry would be the IRS
I know a guy who lost 4 mil in one fell swoop. They took every think but his licenses to practice and the house his wife claimed. Smart gal didn’t claim Cliff house or Smith River house but sh#t shack condo in IB to watch floaters at Tijuana slews
IRS knows no limit on Tax evasion or do they. Could really FK a lot of families now. Not just individuals living in vans. But I really wasn’t there and even what I heard first person is hearsay
I now have a photo of the pilots getting busted in Salt Lake City by armed DEA agents. I'll write in the book about the event. Another one of those stories that makes you shake your head and say, "You GOT to be kidding"!
I got to the Valley early in the spring of 1977, in order to do some ice climbing, in preparation for a planned trip to Europe that summer. I was amazed to find Yabo paying for a multi-course dinner in the Mountain Room , instead of his usual scarfing next door in the cafeteria. Snapped this shot on the Half Dome trail:
When we got to Europe that summer, we told the yarn to Ken Wilson, the editor of Mountain Magazine, who loved it. He published a short summary in the news section of the magazine, calling the incident “like something out of an Alistair Maclean novel.” Still one of the most improbable tales from that time.
Wonder: But of course I am! How else would anyone come forward and provide the kind of stuff I need to put this story together? Since the book will be an historical account of the event, all will be factual. I will however have a chapter dedicated to all of the rumors and hear say stories, but it will be identified as such.
The trail sign photo is amazing! These are the things that make the story great.
Thanks for posting the photo...check your email
I just came across a photo of the guys making their first "hike" across the border with full expedition packs. They did this before they bought their first of five planes. Also have a shot later on of them with all of their planes.
Is there anyone that can direct me to either a website or a physical location that can give me the weather conditions at Lower Merced Pass Lake on December 8/9, 1976? I need a source other than "Mike told me that someone said...." if you know what I mean.
FILE DATE LOCATION AIRCRAFT DATA INJURIES FLIGHT PILOT DATA
F S M/N PURPOSE
3-4169 76/12/9 YOSEMITE,CA LOCKHEED PV-1 CR- 2 0 0 MISCELLANEOUS COMMERCIAL, FL.INSTR.,
TIME - UNK/NR N80BD PX- 0 0 0 OTHER AGE 29, 5000 TOTAL HOURS,
DAMAGE-DESTROYED OT- 0 0 0 UNK/NR IN TYPE,
DEPARTURE POINT INTENDED DESTINATION
TYPE OF ACCIDENT PHASE OF OPERATION
AIRFRAME FAILURE: IN FLIGHT IN FLIGHT: OTHER
MISCELLANEOUS - UNDETERMINED
AIRFRAME - WINGS: WING ATTACHMENT FITTINGS,BOLTS
MISCELLANEOUS ACTS,CONDITIONS - OVERLOAD FAILURE
MISCELLANEOUS ACTS,CONDITIONS - SEPARATION IN FLIGHT
MISSING AIRCRAFT - LATER RECOVERED
REMARKS- RECOVERY DATE 6/14/77.TRANSPORTATION OF NARCOTICS.
Model: PV-1 Search all Lockheed PV-1
Year built: 1959
Serial Number (C/N): 5375
Mode S Code: 52557641
Aircraft Type: Fixed wing multi engine
Number of Seats: 10
Number of Engines: 2
Engine Type: Reciprocating
Engine Manufacturer and Model: P & W R-2800 SERIES
Registration Type: Corporation
Owner: Red River Ranch Inc
Address: Fort Lauderdale, FL 33310
Certification Issued: 1976-10-12
Air Worthiness Test: Unknown
Last Action Taken: 1977-01-14
Majid...Yep, it was "originally" a PV-1 Ventura. But not when it crashed. I appreciate the homework you did, good job. Guess you can appreciate what kind of hot rod this plane must have been? By the way, did you notice there were 10 seats on board for a fighter bomber? Interesting.
Here is an actual photo of the plane during W.W. II
HAppiegirl, In this scenario the failure occured in flight. The term overload is use to describe a failure mode, not a physical state. Although, considering what it was transporting, it is likely that the plane was above gross (overloaded in lay terms).
Aircraft can be overloaded, above the maximum gross weight, but in flight failures can also be the result of flight conditions. As was proposed, the failure may have been the result of turbulence. This, in turn, results in the structural limits of the aircraft being exceeded when turbulence is excessive. The Sierra can be extremely turbulent under the right conditions.
It is also possible that the aircraft, as old as it was, just reached it's structural fatigue life. This varies with each aircraft. The only way to mitigate the fatigue is to do regular, and occasionally extensive maintence and rebuilding. Remeber Aloha Flight 243? It exceeded it's compression and decompression cycle limits, and blew it's top.
The FAA usually does a more intensive analysis of crashes. This appears to be worded somewhat vaguely. Maybe intentionally.
In looking at the report above, the FAA identify WING ATTACHMENT FITTINGS,BOLTS , this is as specific as it gets. Most aircraft require inspection of these attach points on a regular basis. Some even go so far as to require replacement at regular intervals. It's not a common thing to have these just fail. More likely something was going on in flight. I'd be intersted to know the orientation of the plane in the lake. Did it com in, in the direction of travel? If these pilots were in IFR conditions, it is possiblr that they lost control and entered into an all too common, high speed spiral. This will lead to structural failure as loads on the airframe are exceeded quite easily.
Overload means too much stress on AC now here is what I got on this model AC. Normal range 1660 miles, Weights: 20,197 pounds empty, 31,077 pounds loaded, 34,000 pounds maximum.
This AC took off from BAJA toward Reno with full tank of gas of 1600 gal x @7 lbs = 11000 lbs worth of fuel then max load was 34000 lbs. 11000+21000 = 32000 lbs and still under the max load. If they loaded this AC with 2500 lbs worth of goodies then it was overloaded at take off but by the time they got near Yos they had used near 70% of the gas and they were ok however, my guess is that they had more than 2500 lbs of goodies may be near 4000 lbs and they calculated the fuel /destination to max out their load to land in Reno with almost no gas, may be even they even took the 10 seats out to add another 200 lbs.
This AC was a bomber with cargo door right below the main section and I am guessing they were going to fly slow and at low alt to drop the cargo some where in desert and then land at Reno as clean as baby's face, also I been on few AC recoveries where smaller plane crashed and there was not any thing left of AC to recognize but the clock.
According to one of the stories, dudes were pulling goodies out of AC crash site which tells me that AC was not involved in major impact otherwise they could not recover much. I think pilot knew he had a problem and he was trying to get to lower Alt and land but flying IFR over 13000 feet mountain range, you are SOL in finding a landing spot . The wings broke off while he was descending to lower alt and he crashed very close to ground. That is what I think it happened.
First the plane wasn't what you think so its age and condition didn't play into this event.
As for the plane being overloaded for its capability. Again, the plane wasn't what everyone thought it was, so its ability to carry what it had on board (I have the true quanity that was loaded by way of the load master that over saw the loading) was well within its capability.
And for the weather, well it didn't figure into the event.
Majid...I'm going to have to add your speculation to the chapter on rumors and wild stories. Sorry guy, but you aren't even close. But keep trying, you have a knack for the yarn.
Obviously I'm not going to tell the whole story here before I go to print, but some of your thoughts are getting close. Some of the really key issues have been posted on this thread by myself and others. You really have to turn into a detective and read each and every word...there is evidence there to be grabbed. I'll tell you when you are really off base.
Thanks for the lead on Vortex. I talked to David Harris when I first started researching this subject. He told me the story behind his book. Very interesting how he got his information.
So you didn't answer my question, Was the aircraft and debris path oriented in the direction of travel?
Don't think that gives the story away, but based on what you just added, I can make some good guesses.
First the plane wasn't what you think so its age and condition didn't play into this event...As for the plane being overloaded...was well within its capability.
Your are being a bit ambiguous here in the use of the word "capability". I suppose for good reason. However, and I speak as one who has done warbird restoration, the components in the FAA offcial report are not likely to have been modified, maybe replaced. I am not suggesting that other stuctural mods weren't made that could increase the gross weight, as there are many. If, in fact, the wing attach bolts did fail, and the aircraft was within it's operating envelope (weight/CG) then what we have left is pilot error or incapacitaion, and weather conditions. This resulted in the aircraft being operated outside the limits of it's flight envelope, in one way or another.
So humor me, what was the orientation of the crash path?
I just wonder, this PV-1 was flying in IFR under FAA radar from BAJA but they were able to fly from better path such as central valley or fly over water to SF then make a right turn and go to Reno but they did not.
If he had 2500 lbs of goodies then he could not drop it via bomb bay because max drop limit at bomb bay was 1600 lbs so cargo was inside the plane. FAA was watching these guys cause they wanted to fly under FAA radar or IFR, well back in 1977 FAA was not using the modern radar system so there were times when they could not see the plane in radar or as they call it, shadows in radar . If PV was flying over sierras in winter at low alt ( just above the ground ) to create shadow on purpose cause then may be they wanted to land some place before RENO drop the load and take off again using the few minute of shadow ( sort of un noticed) in FAA radar and land in Reno clean. Just a thought.
The route you guys are speculating about was as follows.
They flew west out of Mexico and north along the US coast, within US controlled airspace and on radar. The ATC reported that the plane had disappeared off of the radar at Santa Barbara. This was when they turned north and dropped down below radar level. From Santa Barbara they flew toward Reno where they were to land at Black Rock, the site of the now Burning Man event. They would off load there, refuel, and return to Mexico for their final load and then return home.
If you take a look at the map you can see that Lower Merced Pass Lake is in a very close line along the path between Santa Barbara and Reno. This trip was not unusual for them nor was it new. However, if you are an experienced pilot, you can appreciate that they did this in the dark and didn't attract the attention of US Customs, DEA, or the military.
You still haven't offered a response to my two previous questions about debris path orientation.
I was more interested in the real CAUSE of the crash.
Whatever, keep it a mystery. If there is an answer I guess I'lll have to read about it.
First off I can't believe anyone would blame the pilots for the lost lifes of the people who died long after the wreck of the plane, first off it was those individuals choices to begin selling drugs in the first place. Look at largo, his life doesn't appear to be negatively affected by it. Personal choices are just that.
Now what i intended to write, you should go around Yosemite and ask a few of those people, I worked for guy at the Yoesemite garage this summer who was there in the seventies and claimed to have smoked some of that nasty weed. he claimed it was soaked with jet fuel and wasn't even worth it. Anyways there are quite a few lifers around there, and almost all of them used to smoke, so that would be a good place to get more stories from non-climbers.
Give it a rest chainsaw. Your caricature of this lurching, introverted, paranoid 70s climber is stale. We've all had it rough at times. Some of us still do. People want to hear about this stuff. Its the golden lore of an amazing sport. Its what grinds the wheels of imagination, propels our search on high ever farther, and motivates us toward the mystery that we are up there for in the first place. There is nothing like the hallowed, crazy, mystical, mostly ridiculous, often tragic, ever surprising history of the greatest sport on Earth. How we are all connected, through this ethereal thread of story and circumstance, is what makes us climbers - through and through - heart, mind and soul. This is a great tale. Let them write it. I'll read it.
This sure is an interesting thread. The story is a very fascinating one and should be told. It's kind of a climbing mythology and lore that just so happens to be true. It will be nice to know the full story eventually.
Someone you should get in touch with, and she is a writer for Mammoth Times, her initials are C.R. She was a neighbor of mine on Mustang Mesa, near Bishop, for the longest time but she is sadly no longer. However, she still writes for MT. She told me about the old time truck that she and her boyfriend still have, and how it was some how involved with the big infamous event in '77. She knows I climb and would be familiar with the story, and she just told me this one day out of the blue when we were chatting outside. She is a great lady and a very good writer. She is the one who writes most of the more progessive articles for the MT. We definately see eye to eye, politically and environmentally. She would be someone to talk to for sure. She is one brave soul. You should read some of her articles. She is not afraid to speak truth to power.
Well, you obviuosly know what ultimately brought the plane down, and I don't blame you for not wanting to give the whole story away. But you said that it wasn't the weather . . .
"And for the weather, well it didn't figure into the event."
You ultimately know, but my speculation would be the "Sierra Wave" might have brought the plane down. The number of flights that have been brought down over the years in the Sierras due to the Sierra Wave and the rotor clouds of turbulence associated with these massive wave events and the often lenticular clouds that form as a result, is quite high. What many people don't realize is that they are more frequent during the winter months, and it can happen day or night and even on clear weather and sunny "blue-bird" days. These conditions can easily lead to structural failure of aircraft. It is like the hand of God swatting a fly out of the sky.
I encourage everyone to read the story of the research done on the Sierra Wave in Bishop during the '40s and '50s. There are historical markers now at Bishop Airport commemmorating these well known and famous studies. They studied the Sierra Wave by sailplanes/gliders! To surf the Sierra Wave in a glider is a dream of most sailplane pilots. Not an experience for the faint of heart. The following book tells the entire story . . .
You can also buy the book at Spellbinders in Bishop. It's a great read. You will come to appreciate and respect the Sierra Wave more and understand the massive awe inspiring forces involved in it when you read all about the study done in Bishop.
As I said, many a plane flight in the Sierras that have crashed, came down as a result of the Sierra Wave. Sometimes it is an invisible killer, and you'll never know until it hits you.
The first time I heard about this was on my first true Valley Trip. Of course it was mostly getting drunk and wobbling up Swan Slab, but I met a guy nicknamed "Spew" who claimed to be hanging in the high country with a local Valley hardman that has the initials T.T.
"Spew" claimed to have witnessed the actual crash and that he was one of the guys on scene first pulling out bales of "Acupolco Gold".
He also claimed that this was the story that inspired "Cliffhanger"
His whereabouts... somewhere in Arizona
Disclaimer: He also claimed to be Chonngo Chucks personal belay slave and that he would gladly haul for anyone if they paid him in King Cobra.
To the people writing the book about the 1977 Lodestar... I am very much attached and have known I would need and wanted to get in touch with Pam Glisky for many years. It is unbelievable that I am even here writing, as I am... I have a message to her and one question for her. M. Costello said something many years ago and I believe he, at the time, told me the truth---but to verify by Pam only. My phone # for Pam only is 360-265-4952.
I've really enjoyed reading this thread from the beginning and I look forward to buying the book. However, the worry of what the cops/Feds/IRS whoever might do to those climbers who found and "liberated" the weed all those years ago seems like silly Baby Boomer paranoia. It was 1,500 pounds of shitty Mexican schwag, full of seeds and baled, for crying out loud. Speculation and remarks about the quality after the crash are kinda moot, 'cause it was low-grade to begin with -- and I'm sure the lake and AV fuel didn't improve the taste or high. And at $400 a pound? Do the math! It would only be $60,000 divided by however many people helped themselves -- truly a pittance in the drug trade. The notion of "talking to lawyers" and worrying about "the man" coming knocking because of comments posted in this forum are laughable.
Kinda disappointing that it wasn't quality California-grown sinsemilla, which today is worth $4,000 a pound wholesale at the many legal cannabis dispensaries in Cali.
And Chainsaw? I thought he was a made-up, DARE rhetoric-spouting joke character until his identity was revealed. And then it was apparent he was kind of a made-up joke character, but a real one...
Snark! Yep, Chainsaw is a fool. A few comments about your post, good California green bud did exist back in those days but valued at around $800-$1000 per lbs. In very rare cases very high quality sensi (it was almost all sensi in those days) it was sold for more than $1000 per lbs. It went way up in price in the eighties when when different strains came into play. $4000 lbs didn't come about for many years after the crash. 1500 pounds? No, I think you will find it a much bigger load when you read the book.
Also the quality of the crash buds varied due to water damage and aviation fuel. Not all of it was full of seeds typical of low grade Mexican. It sounds like you smoked some so I don't wish to lecture you in any way but I remember differently, it doesn't matter but my two cents had to get in there.
Yeah - some o' dat stuff was bunk but some was pretty killer. Also, I know a dude who was selling it for $800 a pound. Weed wasn't that expensive at that time either.
That dude bought a 1968 VW van that was like almost new for $1968 and a top-o'da-line Masi racing bicycle for $800, which was like dee most expensive bike you could get in dem daze. Crazy how times change....
Oh yeah that chainsaw guy was cool (still is)...heh heh
Yeah, JB, that was a pretty sweet Masi that that guy bought. Purchased with some serendipitous stash, I unna stand...
Back then, there were quite a few climbers riding fine cycles. Man, half the climbers I knew in Berkeley back then were riding a branded Colñago, Pogliaghi, Masi, Cinelli, Bianchi, or (even) a Schwinn Paramount! Expensive bikes, every one. Where did we ever get that kind of cash?
Were all those guys dealing drugs at Indian Rock, back then?
Wes,right about that time(I was thinking 78, but, memory, WTF) we drove south from Laramie to see Bob and the Wailers @ redrocks. En route we heard on the radio that the concert was canceled 'cause Mr Marley broke his foot! instead, we visited a friend in Golden and had chinese food at some place that you could see a cap of rocky cliffs on table mesa(?)from.
"I hiked up there, didn't see any climbing, it's not as good as it looks," my friend or his brother said.
also missed the plane crash goldrush by timing of college spring break;friends that stayed in camp another week got the bird's eye lowdown, so to speak.
For those following the thread, here is an addition.
I just talked to Jack Dorn's brother and sister-in-law. Very nice people and judging by what has been said about Jack, it runs in the family. I'll be meeting with them in the near future and if anything interesting comes up, I'll be sure and post it. I know many here knew Jack and were friends with him.
I have followed this thread somewhat, not feeling the need to get involved. I will say, though, that much has not be said. And much may never be said, for one reason or another. Even with all these entries, only the surface has been tapped.
It's been two years since the first post in this thread. That's a lot of time for researching a book (I've never written a book so I'm guessing). Any idea if there will ever actually be a book about this? When, two more years?
This posting isn't intended to be a rant, so if anyone takes it as such I apologize.
If you have followed this thread from top to bottom, one of the things you will notice is that many that made the trek up to the plane thirty years ago post on SuperTopo today. The purpose of my thread is not to tell a story, it is to ask people to contact me with their stories so I can research the Yosemite experience surrounding the event. There is so much more to this story than what went on after the plane crashed and people made off with the dope. I spelled this out pretty clearly in my first posting. Since then so many have contacted me and provided me with a wealth of information that as the days progressed it seemed to me that it was only fair to post bits and pieces that I have uncovered. I do it so people can recall things that they have forgotten. Many have either responded to some of the stories or the photos that I have posted. It has worked out very well for me as well as them. Every time I interview someone I usually bring to them photos and stories about the event that they had no idea about. The exchange of information has been both directions. Take the story of Jack Dorn. His family knew nothing about the plane crash and its contents much less of Jack's involvement. Even the pilot's wife Pam has been learning about the event from angles that she never knew about.
I am not a writer by profession. I am an ex-mechanical engineer turned sales guy. I imagine that if I were making a living at cranking out novels I probably would have had at least one if not two finished by now as well as a screen play. Daily I spend anywhere from one to six hours doing phone and Internet research. I have traveled to three states to interview people face to face rather than just make a phone call.
All of my facts on this story must have at least three sources to confirm events that have been told to me by people. Printed documents have to have the name of the author, date, and the source of the publication. I have been given copies of newspaper articles that don't provide any of this. To research where this article came from and who wrote it thirty years ago is not an easy task considering I have my regular job to perform.
During the past two years I have found out many things about this event that had I gone with the original story and not spent any time really researching it, when it hit the printer you and many others would read it and know that it was just not true. If you read other accounts of this plane crash, and I don't mean just one, you will start to see just what I am talking about. Lets not forget about the stories from people that feel the need to participate even though they had nothing to do with it. Those stories have led me on some pretty wild goose chases. My intent is to tell the story and not expose people.
If you talk to one person about the event you will get a time line that they perceive as correct since they are speaking in the first person. They were there and remember it like it was yesterday. Talk to ten more and you quickly become aware that there are conflicting bits of information.
There will be one chapter dedicated to the rumors. Some of those will get a wink and a nod from those that have told the story from these angles thinking they heard the story from someone that knew. Or, as the old line goes, "I knew a guy that knew a guy that said he was there."
Just thought of a great story as a follow up on what I had just posted.
I have been contacted by a guy claiming his cousin spent time in Viet Nam with the pilot back in the late 60s and knew him well. After three emails from him I began to notice a couple of unusual consistencies in his text. He always started his sentences off with a lower case letter. He always used only the letter "u" instead of spelling out "you." And the more he wrote the worse his grammar and syntax became.
Today he started telling me that he has already spent considerable amount of his own money to help "this cause" and would like me to send him $2,000 as compensation to his son in the UK. After that he will then have his cousin get in touch with me.
So this is a new twist on the Nigerian letter scam operation.
I just read about this in Alpinist- maybe better late than never. I was the Valley Ranger who took the initial report of the plane crash in Jan. 1977. I have a few side stories to the main story from a former ranger's point of view. Email me if you want my stories.
As for the book. Its getting down to the wire. I'm now just tying up loose ends as far as the sequence of events go. To be honest, if I relied on everyone's 30 year old memory, the time line would look like that Jack In The Box ad for chipotle sauce where Jack's mouth looks like a mess of spaghetti. It wouldn't make sense nor would it be linear.
I have a few of the key players left to talk to as well as collect releases on some of the great photos that have been provided. I'm also planning on a trip up to the lake to take photos. That'll happen in a few weeks. I thought I'd wait until the Park was as peak tourist season before I headed out.
Way to keep researching this thoroughly, Licky. I have totally enjoyed tuning in from time to time and watching as key players or people who know them contact you one by one. This would have undoubtedly been a different (and weaker, possibly inaccurate) book had you simply gone with the information you originally received.
I'm a writer myself and when working on a project, people who have troubling composing a four-paragraph letter frequently ask me "When ya gonna be done writing that book?" and I reply "When it's finished!"
Tokes to you for sticking with it, and I hope you sell enough copies to earn a little bread -- thus, in your own hard-working way, you too will have profited from that 1977 plane crash, which would be totally appropriate and a delicious bit of irony that such a long-gone illegal cargo woudl still be generating at little income.
Thanks Mt. its been an interesting plus two years.
Yes, you are correct when you talk about going with the first story. Although what I'm finding that in many cases the stories only differ because two people were viewing an event from different angles. One person picked up or recalls something that another didn't. It doesn't mean that one was blowing smoke (so to speak) and the other wasn't. 30 years is a long time to ask someone to recall details of an event that was just a brief moment in their life.
I have struggled with communicating with you. I hadn't visited this thread for a long time. It hurts my head. I might be able to help with some background on Jack. We met and learned to climbing together as classmates in a CMC rock course in Aspen. He was the person I was most likely to climb with and we were tight. I was waiting for him to arrive to be my best man and was pretty pissed when he didn't show. I learned, through the grapevine, of his death when a mutual friend returned from the park in 77. I called out there to confirm and got to spend some hours on the phone with an investigator looking into his background. I could have told you he was from Utica and had a mom and brother alive then. Those of us that knew him in Aspen called him Pig. He climbed a little with Lou Dawson, Michael Kennedy, squaty Body Eric, Rich Jack, and others . I'd have to scratch my head to remember all the names. I stayed with him in the park and we did some climbs though he was new there and working alot. Anyway, email if you want. I have a few photos of ares we climbed but I may only have one old newspaper photo of him. I'd have to dig around a bit to find that stuff.
Time to pull the trigger on this baby! Some of us are getting old. We're going to start passing on without having read the thing. Plus my eyesite is going. My wife caught me this morning with my reading glasses on and a spare set tucked in my collar. Time to publish.
The book would already be at the publisher if it weren't for all the new information coming forward. Friends of the two pilots are coming up with new photos. There is an organization that is helping me do research on the history of the plane while it saw duty in WW II including photos of the crews. Then there is the matter of getting up to the Park to go through the records and take photos of the lake and the trail that Jack Dorn fell from.
I'd say that 90% of the research is complete. The conversion from notes to readable text in a way that you'd want to turn the page has been a bit tedious, but I'm making headway.
To be honest, this project was only going to take a couple of months. As each Christmas would approach I figured I'd have it ready for the holiday sales. I had no idea that it would lead me where it has and it keeps on keeping on.
So hang in there. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and its not the train.
To answer your question...all of the above. For those in the climbing community the story about the plane in the lake and the dope is probably of major interest. But those that knew the pilots are interested in how they got into the business and the events surrounding their death. Two weeks ago I attended my 40th high school reunion in Seattle. Most that attened it knew Jon Glisky, some very well. I must have told the story a dozen times to small groups all day and night long. None had any idea about what happended after he died.
Then there are those that knew about this plane because they are into what are referred to as Lockheed Big Twins. They lost track of this plane back in the mid70s as it had been misidentified by the Feds during the investigation. As it was, there were only 17 made and this was number 17. One is still flying around the country.
Then through out all of this is the debunking of the myth and rumors. I've been led on some pretty wild goose chases by people that knew they had no idea what went on, but decided over the years to develop their own spin on the event. Some were just not there and some that were only had part of the story and ended up filling in the gaps with what sounded right or what they were told by someone else.
But most of all, I wanted to find something good that came out of this event. There had to be people who's lives were actually made better. I found them and its their stories that have helped temper the black side of this story.
My name is Ron, I lived in Yosemite in 1976 and 1977, worked at the Ahwahnee Hotel. I am one of the so called "hikers" actually on showshoes, who found the airplane, or the wing as it turned out along the trail to Lower Merced Pass Lake and our ultimate destination, Ottoway Lake, in the Clark range. We never made Lower Merced Pass Lake, pity, I often wonder what would have happened if had and figured out what happened. When we returned to the valley after camping on Ottoway Lake I reported to the Rangers that we had found a wing in the high country and gave them the numbers from the wing. Well all hell broke lose and in the next few days the entire Valley knew the story of the plane crash.
In April 1977 I returned with seemingly the entire Valley and returned with a backpack full of pot. Which I quickly dried and sold to a friend in San Jose. The next year I went back to college and used the airplane money to make the move to San Diego and pay for my first two years of college. Something good did come from the "Loadstar Lightning"
Rich Schloss is a good guy and has interviewed me and we have spoken on the phone a few times since. He is trying to piece the story together from several angles. I personally don't think there is any need to be fearful, statute of limitations having long expired. If you really know something first hand, NOT HEARSAY, (there are all kinds of Valley myths), then I would encourage you to come forward and let's get the whole story out. I have learned so much from him and cleared up some of the myths I still believed about the event.
I HAVE PHOTOS FROM THE SHOWSHOE TRIP TO OTTOWAY LAKE WHEN WE FOUND HE WING AND THE POT SALVAGE IN APRIL ON-LINE at: http://public.fotki.com/RonLykins/travel/airplane_1977/
The first 7 or so are at the lake in April (chopping pot out of the ice) the others are the snowshoe trip when we found the wing, shots of thw wing included.
I look forward to reading Ricks book when it is realeased.
Hey Ron, good to see your post. Hope it helps those that are still not sure if they ought to contact me. Many still are. I talked to a guy today that gave me some helpful guidance regarding some of the publications that were about the event.
At the moment I'm piecing together the military history of the plane as well as a few loose ends. Getting closer.
As I recall it was Kodachrome64 which I shot most of the time in Yosemite (warmer), I then had prints made and scanned the prints some 30+ years later to make the digital photos that you saw on-line.
Boy wish I was 21 again, just hiked the Grand Canyon for Thanksgiving (full moon nearly was incredible). My 52 year old muscles are still sore but happy to have hiked the canyon. My arthritic left knee did better than I thought it would and I had a great time camping on Horeshoe Mesa.
Hey Rok...yeah, been a little while. Just when things start slowing down, I get contacted by a couple more people that figure into the story. Some from the climbing communitee and some from outside but well versed in other aspects of what went on. I truly am not without information which I'm thankful for.
Drop me a line or a call, we'll play a little catch up.
To give everyone an idea of how this story is panning out. I recently talked to one of the pilot's relatives. Just when I thought that they didn't want to discuss the event that resulted in the loss of a family member, they step forward providing a wealth of information that I didn't know.
And for those that knew Jack Dorn, his family had an image of a mountain carved onto his granite tombstone to show how much he was into mountains and climbing. Very nice.
People keep contacting me with new info on everything from the pilots to the plane to the investigation. Same with photos. I hear from at least one person each week with more tips. So I continue to sort, research, catalog, and so on. I now have names of all the small towns in Mexico that the smoke traveled through on its way to Lower Merced Pass Lake. Quite a trip with trucks, vans and even fishing boats long before the plane.
A trip up to the lake is planned this spring/summer. So far it will include Ron Lykins (found the wing), Jon Glisky's (one of the two pilots)sister, maybe Jeff Nelson's (other pilot) cousin, and myself. No telling how many might make it by then. I'll keep everyone up to date on the event.
Heroes shouldnt wind up in jail. Maybe what they did was more greed then heroism. Young people today got plenty of ways to mess themselves up, they dont need to look to old men who got their start in financial security by dealing. Less talented people are always looking for a way to get around the system.
During Easter evening, my pack was so heavy that I alternated between walking forward uphill and walking backwards uphill to the trailhead. We scouted it good, but there was no danger. We made our way to the 41 exit, which was also empty, and on to Summerdale for a good night rest finally. The next morning, at Silvertip Lodge (Fishcamp), we feasted on a huge greasy breakfast. Afterwards, as we walked to the parking lot and started to climb into my 66’ VW camper, a kind Fresno Co. Sheriff pulled up along the passenger side. As his squeaky, black, shiny boots stepped to the pavement, the melting and leaking juice of our “lode” dripped and flowed from the van past him with that special “Airplane” aroma. We all acted casual, said hello, closed the doors, and headed down to Fresno for the next step . . . .
Goddammit, jiimmy. I can't believe somebody wants to jump into this with "won't somebody think of the children?" Stories (and especially histories) are not necessarily about heroes for young people to emulate.
For those following this saga. Tomorrow I meet with one of the family members of one of the pilots. This site has been very helpful in helping them understand what went on up at the lake after their loss. Everyone's posts, for the most part have provided a little insight into what the event was for others outside of the drug running group.
Let me also add that Jack Dorn's family knew nothing about the plane crash, the dope, or any of the mystery surrounding his death.
Just spoke with the Park Ranger that took the initial report from Ron Lykins about a wing. He was also one of two that immediately went up to the lake via chopper to find the wing. Amazing memory that some people have after all these years. He told it like he was right there.
Maybe I don't understand your last entry about the ranger who took the initial report about the wing. I do not need to be in the book or anything. I took the initial report of the crash being found and I called it in to Scott Air Force Base. Shortly after Scott Air Force Base called me back, a lot of other rangers came into work that Sunday night and I was off the case - which was fine by me. There were no helicopeter flights until the next day. The reporting party told me they found the tail of the plane and they had the call numbers from the tail.
I don't remember and never knew a lot of other details about the early days of the investigation. And I told you by phone everything else I knew about the whole episode. I have a very distinct memory of that Sunday afternoon, getting the initial report, calling Scott, etc. and no other ranger was around during that time.
As a reporter for the Los Angeles Times on Jun 2, 1994 I wrote a story-review about the premier showing of Cliffhanger in Los Angeles. The movie story, absurd in many ways, involves millions in cash tossed from a plane onto the peaks. The story was supposed to be in the Rockies, but it was filmed in the Dolomites because director Rene Harlin (no relation, I'm sure) said the Rockies were "too inaccessible" but more likely that they could not film in wilderness areas. Those involved in the filming includede David Breahears. Ron Kauk, Wolfgang Gullick, Jim Bridwell and Georgia Phipps, then a colleague of mine on the AAC board of directors, with an incredible stunt fall. Some assumed, as I wrote, that the movie was based on Jeff Long's novel "Angels of Flight." But co-producer Gene Hines said he conceived of Cliffhanger with John Long after seeing a television film of Yosemite climbing and getting to know some Yosemite climbers. He said Jeff Long had no special rights to the story since John had been in Yosemite at the time and knew all about the Merced Lake crash. I wrote that the script finally emerged after "traveling a tortuous trail fraught with legal threats..." Indeed, the credits say the film was "based on a premise by John Long and ranks Hines as one of three co-producers, not as a creator." That stirred a hornet's nest within the production company, as John may remember. Coleco--it may have been Harlin--called and railed at me, claiming there never was any threat of a lawsuit and threatened me with all sorts of dire things. I decided then never to mess with those movie people. If any apologies are due to John Long over this matter, I heartily offer them now, with great admiration for his work, some years later.
A new twist to the story. I am now hunting down any info about Nadim Melkonian. I know he died in 2006. I'm looking for anyone that knew him during the plane crash period of the winter of 76/77. Can anyone help?
Another update. Of all the Federal agencies that I have sent FOIA requests, only Yosemite and the DEA have stepped up to the plate. The others claim that files and reports have "probably been destroyed" due to the passage of time. Ya gotta love it.
Whats been interesting has been that many of the agencies tell me that what I'm asking for no longer exists. Yet I have a copy of it in my hands as I talk to them on the phone. I have great sources that are obviously better than the clerks in the office.
Of all the government agencies that I didn't expect to step up to the plate, believe it or not....DEA has come through. Amazing to say the least! So stay tuned as I trickle some of the goodies that I find out. This ought to be great stuff.
This evening I was contacted by a guy that was one of the chief mechanics for the Dee Howard Company from the 50s. This was the company that did the conversion of the PV-1 Ventura to what it was when it went down in Lower Merced Pass Lake. I'll be meeting with him soon to hear some of his stories about this plane. They only produced 17 and all were accounted for except this one. Here is a link to a site that shows the only one of the original 17 still flying. Guess I'm letting the cat out of the bag.
Ken...Yep, thats one of those major issues. I talked to the guy that flys that plane on the web site. He agreed that if the purtty interior was stripped down, the load would be...well, lets just say it would have been a hell of a lot more.
I have a letter from the FBI that says Jack Dorn was the guy that found not only the black book, but also the wallet of one of the two pilots. The report says he removed a fairly good amount of bucks from it.
This is a letter from Clarence Kelly, Director of the FBI at the time.
The story is written, but people are still contacting me with new stories and information. Some of it fantastic as always and some of it that takes me out on "wild goose chases" that turn out to be totally bogus.
I'm waiting for the DEA to come up with their package. That ought to be interesting.
I found a guy that used to fly the plane in Canada before it was modified. So his stories will be included.
I'm pretty sure I have the time line put together in an accurate sequence of events. That was a major hurdle from the get go.
As for remembering the 70s, for the little things most people seem to have problems, but since this was no little event in just about any player's life, the memories are very clear.
Sorry Licky, I wasn't referring to your book, just reacting to the many posts that miss the mark. I'm sure you've done an exhuastive amount of research and found some interesting stories about the Yosemite Klondike and all the tragedies that followed.
If you start at the beginning of this thread and read between the lines you'll hear a bunch of amazing stories. My favorite posts are those by "Chainsaw" and the support I received by the followers/participants in this event.
After 3 years and 2 months of these posts on the taco, it's amazing you still have interest in this book. I guess it takes that long to get something done right. You might want to consider publishing what you have since waiting for all of the information might mean never publishing the book. It would be a huge disappointment to never see it after following these posts for so many years.
Jack did find, with one other person, $1,600 in 50 dollar bills and the book in a wallet in a down jacket embedded in ice near the nose cone. How do I know? Can't say! I was dating a girl who worked in the Wells Fargo bank during that time and apparently the wet bills had a distinctive smell.
Has anyone documented all the folks that died after the Loadstar klondike? Not saying that it had anything to do with the crash but there were several rather unfortunate souls that didn't live to tell their grandkids about it. Jack for one. That was a weird deal. Years later, Mark Tozier was struck by lightning. Many other strange happenings in folks lives just sort of happened after that. If I remember right, the black book, wallet and human remains in a sock were all found at the same time.
Many 'o mustache was flared by that stuff. I'm sure the fumes had to be rather unhealthy.
You mean the one with Playboy center-fold pin-ups pasted all over the interior? Yeah, I remember that. When I knew Jack he was 30, I was maybe 19 and I remember discussing amongst my peers how cool it was that this "really old dude" could just hang with the rest of us. All we could fathom was, "man I hope we're all that cool when we're 30!"
rectorsquid...Unlike a novel where holes in the facts can be filled in with what ever sounds good, this book will be a historical accounting of the event. I'm sure if you bought a publication claiming to be a true historical book about an event you knew something about and found missing facts, or even worse, unsubstantiated facts based on nothing more than rumor you'd feel like your money was not well spent. For that reason I am taking my time, researching every story, backing up my facts, and am constantly finding out new stories.
Ken...funny, that was the exact amount that the Feebies have in their report. Ahhhh..now ya see rector, this is what I'm talking about. An FBI report doesn't make it fact, only that someone put it on paper. Back that up with a few comments from people that knew people that were there and pretty soon I get to the meat and potatoes. And it has taken +3 years to get the FBI report, but it only took a few months to hear about the wallet and its contents.
By the way, if anyone can refresh my memory as to how to post a photo on this thread, I have a few of Jack Dorn.
My version says there were 34 $50 bills in the wallet. At least that's what some dude at some lake said when he showed them to me. Man, was he trippin; headed to the valley with his lode.
That was the week of April 4 1977, probably the 5th or 6th. Bumped into Roger Banister (RIP) on the trail that day, as well as others left unnamed. Camped downstream with a party of gold diggers with a warm fire.
Lois weren't you previously asked to stay clear of this thread?
This event was an iconic moment in US climbing history and you have no idea what you are talking about. Stick to the political threads where no one cares how much drift you create.
First off Lois, you are the one that is speculating. If you read this thread from the get go you will learn the answers to many of your questions. I have posted in the past.
Jon Glisky and Jeff Nelson knew exactly what they were hauling. They had been doing this for five years. The plane was one of five that Glisky had owned. Not one at a time, but at the same time. At one point in their past they had attempted to set their own record at 14 trips in 14 days just to see if they could do it.
As for letting the dead lay. It was Jon's wife Pam that first approached me to start a book about their drug running days. It was no secret, but the rumors (as you have speculated) turned into facts after they had been told enough times, and they in turn turned into history. Most either totally bogus or modified into something unbelievable. Such as "...maybe they didn't know what the cargo was." Maybe is the operative word.
I can appreciate everyone sitting around spinning yarns about what might have gone on. The story really does have some great twists and turns that can stand by themselves without embellishing.
Lois posted: "As for the widow (or rather one of the widows), it has come to my attention that you are now married to her and she is having a good life with you. That is a very good thing and I am glad that the story appears to be having a happy ending. I will be reading your book once it comes out so hurry up and publish it."
First,I hate to put water on your continued speculation, but we are not married. Never have been, probably never will be.
Second, there have not been any comments about widow(s), so again, it is a reach to assume there is a second widow rather than to simply ask.
Lois posted: "...I'd say it is high time to wrap it up and go to press."
So if I understand you, you don't really mind if a historical book is incomplete and incorrect just as long as it gets into your hands. Again, this isn't a novel like those before it.
When the book goes to print it will contain only facts, not speculation. All of the facts will have been researched and documented. If there is a story that someone tells from a second person's point of view, it will be researched as well. If it can't be supported with fact it won't be published.
"I had to steal food and can and all the other things we did back then, but I am sure not proud of it. Somebody please explain it to me. Why do modern climber think that what we did was so romantic, old school or core. It's a bunch of jive, it sucked, we didn't have any money or rich parents and did what we had to do."
Maybe when I was in my twenties I would have thought it "romantic", as you say... But being in my mid-thirties, the question begs to be asked - What was forcing you to not go get a job like regular folks? You know, leave the valley, get a gig, climb when you can, etc?
I'm just curious. Doing what you did was a choice, not something that was forced on you. You made the choice to steal. So, it seems to me that, unless I'm missing something, you are the one romanticizing what you did...
I'm just pointing out and playing devil's advocate... I can totally see myself, or any young person in the same situation. Hell, even after I'd grown up a bit, I left a great job with great benefits, pay and vacation and lived there for quite a while myself. Although I saved a chunk of money before I did... But it's not like I can't see/feel the draw...
the bits of this story that have come out are very interesting and often highly entertaining despite the unfortunate ends to some of the individual's tales.
One has to wonder if the "truth" is in fact obtainable in this story. Given the way the mind works, even in the best of cases, after this length of time, the "truth" will be very elusive beast as many of the sources will have told, heard and retold the same stories to the same people. as we repeat stories, the little changes become fact in our memories. and given that this affair includes drugs, death, theft and other less than admirable facets, there will always be a subtle and even unconscious bias to justify one's actions. not even addressing that many of the minds involved were partaking of the loot and other substances and that they are climbers, and great ones at that so they are clearly somewhat off to start with :)
I think that JL's collections of stories and remembrances will hold as much truth as this. it is still a worthwhile endeavor and I would certainly read it. best of Luck.
Wombat. You are problably correct when it comes to the stories that the climbers and others that made their way up to the lake. However there is so much more to this story than that part. The rest is actually quite researchable, down to reports and documents that support a lot of the stories.
Opportunists, that what they were. Scavengers? Maybe. Thieves or looters? No way. The kids who made it up there to the gold rush were taking advantage of an opportunity to retrieve what the Park Service was sure to confiscate. To leave it there was to waste it.
Licky, how about the switched trail signs down at Illiouette Junction? To me, that was classic! I wonder how many people were fooled!
I recall how “crash buds” would easily flame-up with little notice. I’m not sure if that was because of the fuel still in it or its composition following the drying process (often done in Curry dorms).
There must be an endless stream of true stories related to this event, so take your time to get the best of them.
"I had to steal food and can and all the other things we did back then, but I am sure not proud of it. Somebody please explain it to me. Why do modern climber think that what we did was so romantic, old school or core. It's a bunch of jive, it sucked, we didn't have any money or rich parents and did what we had to do."
Maybe when I was in my twenties I would have thought it "romantic", as you say... But being in my mid-thirties, the question begs to be asked - What was forcing you to not go get a job like regular folks? You know, leave the valley, get a gig, climb when you can, etc?
I'm just curious. Doing what you did was a choice, not something that was forced on you. You made the choice to steal. So, it seems to me that, unless I'm missing something, you are the one romanticizing what you did...
It was a choice many but not all made it.
Flat broke in the Valley I once borrowed ten dollars From Dick C. Drove to San Diego worked three days and made enough to come back for another month.
I never scarfed, Went canning , dined and dashed or stole .
Well not counting
$150 dinners at the Four Seasons with a very small bill and big tip .
Free sundays and floats sweet shop (never asked for)
Employee discounts 30-40% at the general store.(never asked for)
Two salad bowls from the Four Seasons and a master key to showers. They were a gift but I may have hinted.
A Curry name tag with my real name. It helped in employee showers and with rangers.
(Before I became a renter)
I paid rent to Curry as a ghost roommate.(Oh I asked)
My first night as a renter was the evening before the Mammoth Earth Quakes.
Five guys and seventy gals and a pissed house mother watched the three story behind the general store shake .
Friday mornings in a pump house in Foresta I could sew four to six packs and sell them by four in the afternoon. I made as much money then a week as I lived on my first month in the valley.
It kept my thirteen year old brother and I feed for another week.
Larry Z could bum a quick $100 Sunday afternoon from turons telling them he lost his wallet and needed gas money to get back to school work or what ever.
Another guy Stole ice boxes from pines and rivers camp grounds.
When asked at the Awhanne if we were staying at the hotel Dick C. replied doesn’t everyone.
A few weeks later she asks me if he was really staying at the Awhanne as she saw him canning.
I even heard one climber lived in the judges basement with his 16 year old daughter. After all 16 will get you 20 unless you are on a military base or in a National Park.
Who said it was not romantic. What 2-3 thousand female employees, if that’s not reeking of romance it was at least lust.
I have a fine assortment of Romanic memories many include climbing.
Tomorrow I will hike into the Park RMNP to make more memories climbing Sunday. Back to the topic the first crash weed I smoked was with a ranger after climbing , she was supprised I had not heard about the weed. I headed to the Valley the next day , one day before the Feds.
Piton Ron, "My memory of Lodestar Lightning was that it was DIFFICULT to keep lit." You must not have had a mustache at the time. The flare ups were akin to personal firework displays! Maybe it was still in that wet stage but the fuel ignitions at the mid-pinner drift were legondary... sort of a Loadstar Branding campaign.
The Feds have come forward with their sterile info as a result of my Freedom of Information Act Reqeust (FIOA). Yosemite was by far the best. They gave me just what I needed to get the time line of all the events into place.
More interviews are set up for next month.
I have found the guy that was responsible for determining if the plane was air worthy to fly to Texas for its modification from a WWII fighter/bomer to an executive aircraft. Since there were only 17 of these planes made, he remembers it. His brother was a pilot for one of the companies that owned it right after the war.
I also found the chief mechanic for the plane after it was modified and sold to the Republic Steel Company in Ohio in the 50s. After all these years, he too remembers the plane and its querks. I guess it was a real hot rod.
Since the cat is out of the bag regarding the plane type, if you are interested in seeing the only flying version of this plane, or older photos of it, do a Google on "Howard 500". Enjoy
And for those that knew Jack Dorn, he's figuring into this book as well. He had a colorful past before arriving in Yosemite. His family has a hell of a story to tell regarding the events following his death.
In a couple of weeks I'll be interviewing and old friend of Jack Dorn's. I'll be talking to another guy within the drug organization. I'd have done this earlier, but its taken this long to locate them. Next month I'll be spending a day with Jack Dorn's brother.
I'm still waiting for the DEA to send me their files.
As for the lake. The plane landed in the deepest part, about 60 feet. They drug it (no pun intended) tail first to the shallow end of the lake so they could cut it up and air lift it out. The left wing was ripped off during flight and its engine was found a few miles away in 2002.
I'm sure you guys would hate to read a book about something like this that was incomplete.
Take the time it takes, my last (1st) book took an extra 18 months, after my deadline. No problem. But we Are (mostly) climbers, so you can't expect us not to poke a little good natured sheeit your way, every so often... we're just filling the muse role.... kind of a pie in the face kinda thing.
I'm thinking that I ought to drag this out until all of the players can't remember where Yosemite is. Then I can pump out monthly news letters that I could offer for sale. Hum....I can see a late night infomercial. Maybe use Yelling Billy from the Oxy adds.
rittle licky - just got hip to this thread and didn't read it all yet, i'll have it done soon - forgive me if this was covered earlier, but i had to post if you're still taking posts. please allow me to posit this: did anyone else notice some abnormally bad luck befalling some plane moguls after the scores? things like microbuses slamming trees after crowding the seat . . . and worse. i'm old, bad memory and all. but its rekindling some disturbing stuff - we all thought things were going great. everybody was happy. within a year no one wanted to hear the word "plane" it seems. it was a life lesson in the danger of greed, as my parents, teachers or the damn church could never have taught me to such effect.
not sure how filter works - ok, here's more vague recollections - the plane was for many of us, our first brush with unlimited wealth (or so it seemed at the time) - someone remarked about yabo eating in the MR instead of scrounging trays in the caf - well there was way more than that, without insulting guys who got by on so little (and guys, like yabo, who were so talented we couldn't even carry their chalk bag deserve to be remembered for what they did on the rock and not how they fueled their ascents) - it was a seismic shift in attitudes that occured subsequent to the plane - and more than new tents in camp 4 - a lot of climbers who were around at the time weren't just in sunnyside - many of us flew under the radar in cabins and dorms even without jobs (and sometimes even without girlfriends) - we were exposed to a good bit of risk as we operated under the nose of LEOs and the few federales downtown - to be seen was to be noticed, and many of us lived undercover but lived well - my personal vice was taking chances by eating at the ahwahnee every day - but everyone knew why we could do that all of a sudden - and the shift in tastes was more than gastronomic - gold lumbo was replaced by white line fever, and french wine with handmade labels - spent a few hundred bucks in chinatown once on korean ginseng - there was a comprehensive shift in consumption habits, and some of us weren't the better for it - but i learned lessons that i needed to learn, as i alluded to in my first post - when real wealth came later in life, wealth that was self-perpetuating and not just like living in a town where everyone hit the lottery at the same time, i was better able to resist temptation, or at least moderate it - imagine if some of us had been given credit cards before we learned (from the plane) how to handle wealth?
i shudder to think - but onto the negativity - we honestly believed that: A/ some of us took too much (were greedy), and B/bad luck followed those good-guys-gone-bad
now i'm not into the naming names thing - if my cryptic references to the vw van at the garage in the village with its head stoved in between the headlights don't ring a bell about a subsequent death and the miraculous recovery of a leg i'd rather not elaborate in this forum - but another loss was far from home, in the east bay and grisly like a bad movie - all of a sudden our idyllic life in the valley was shattered by obsene wealth, followed closely by equally obsene greed - that's apart of the story that needs to be told as well - for every frugal hippie that bought land and settled down there was another who developed a nasty habit that lingered on far longer than the sudden wealth - to me, that was the sad thing about it - we were happy and broke, and then wealthy and frustrated by concerns that never existed before - anyone who danced at cedar grove on a weekend night must remember all the trips outside and back in - hell, we might as well have been at studio 54 instead of down the road in midpines, except we still dressed like climbers - some habits are hard to break and we learned how hard after the plane - i hope i'm both making sense and not making sense, if you were there you should understand at least some of this even if viewed through the narrow perspective of sunnyside - there was a lot of money spent on things other than gear, although we blew a ton on gear/gadgets too - if you look at what just happened with the mortgage crisis you can see what damage sudden wealth/credit can do to people with weak wills - don't get me wrong, i had my fun and don't regret it, but as my friends gradually developed problems they never had before the plane i gained a healthy respect for honest poverty
and if you don't buy the karma angle, that's cool - i just thought joints that caught fire halfway down indicated some underlying dangers at the time, so perhaps i was hyper-sensitive/paranoid - maybe i still am
i can dig it, bro - i've been trying to figure a piece of this tale to include in a fiction piece, but unsure whether it would be lost on a general audience - it's impossible to get normal people to understand why we hung out in the valley at all - now i play disc golf and folks don't get why we throw frisbees in between trees - instead of working harder and getting wealthier - i can't tell them why gold don't shine for me no mo
you're right - it wasn't all bad - or all shake as an earlier posting stated - the term "center-bale" was coined to describe the A grade - product that was essentially unchanged by the crash - and the wet did dry over a few days in the air, but it was cold that winter, and a heat source helped immeasurably - why some didn't notice or care that they smoked fuel was their business, but i felt the gods of karma dictated that it was a sin to pass the tainted product on - the greed factor was strong for others, it seemed
Have you found any information from one source that directly contradicts what you have heard from another? Meaning, guy one said that x happened at y time and guy two said that z happened at q time? I guess what I am asking is that after so long, is everyone's recollections coming together or has time and age taken it's toll and some people differ greatly on their recollection of events?
I have got to say, the story reported here seems very intriguing and I am very curious how it will come out when it is published. I must also say, I am glad I was not part of that time and events. It seems that it was the best of times and it was the worst of times...how would I have made my choices, if it were me? Who knows, who knows....
One thing I have learned from my time posting on internet boards is that you become accountable for what you say. So when is this book gonna hit the stands Licky? Do you have an editor, a publishers, a general release date? You started this and I am going to try to help hold your feet to the coals... =)
Strider...there have been two types of stories that you refer to. One is the blatant false stories. "I was there" when the person wasn't there and can be confirmed by formal, multiple reports that they never participated in which ever event they claimed to have been. That includes the wild goose chases that I have been on only to find the same result. The other is where people have been telling their story for the past 30 years, embellishing as they go. In many cases they fill in the blanks with what seems to make sense. For what ever reason, they hold to these versions of the story making it very difficult to seperate the wheat from the chaft.
If you read my earlier postings on a projected publishing date you will see that one of the reasons why the book isn't completed is because of all of the contradictory info that comes out. I check out each story, no matter how off beat it is.
The other reason is more info keeps coming my way. I'm interviewing two more next week and another the following week.
dont know what chairs have to do with planes, but you've got me wondering about that tale now - perhaps i'm just easily entertained, but i think you have a story there - if not a book perhaps a short story
Maybe the chair is a metephor for sitting and watching what goes on and not to participate. As many know, the event up at the lake didn't involve a huge number of people, even though after all these years you'd think by the stories that half the population of California was up there. Whew...now there's a reach. How's that for yanking it back on topic?
LIcky - it kind of reminds me of whenever there's a major accident involving Muni in
San Francisco (the public transportation agency). A bus will have a total capacity of
say 60, and estimates will show that perhaps 30 were actually on the bus at the time,
and yet 300 people will file claims against the city...
Wow, I'll have to watch the news out there and get in on the bus thing.
I'm definitely going to be looking for this book. Some people have made mention that it may smear the rep of established climbers but most of us realize that we have all come from somewhere we weren't before now. We have all made good and bad choices. From what I have read in the post it seems like the people involved made choices any of us would likely have made and learned if not grew from their experiences. Where some see a "black cloud" or Karma I see only choices and consequences. We have had several instance of "findings" where I am from but mostly everything was trashed from salt water. If people chose to smoke weed contaminated with diesel then that was their choice. I remember when I was young and invincible. I did a lot of things to my body I couldn't even imagine doing now.
OH and I would certainly have been one of the guys getting the dive gear. Just for the adventure of it. Been there done that wrote the book.
jbar, I can assure you that there will be no "smearing" of anyone. This book will connect all of the loose ends to all of the stories. For many, over the last 30 there were no loose ends. They thought they knew the real or the whole story. Most have been wrong.
As for using names of those that made it up to the lake to get their share of the "gold", their names are not important. They know who they are as do those that never made it and let others think they did make it. The stories are what are important. Not only the stories up at the lake, but those that resulted from bringing down the smoke and what they did during the sale and afterward.
As I've said on many occasion, I'm not out to expose people. I'm out to tell the stories, but only if they are true. When someone contacts me with their take on what goes on, I spend an inordinate amount of time researching that story.
I'm sure that many of those on this board will confirm how many times I've recontacted them to go over something that they told me.
What I love is that with this tread running for over three years now you'd think that one of the reporters from the Bee might have stumbled on it and realized that maybe the plane wasn't a Lockheed Lodestar. But what the hell, accuracy in reporting is not required. Makes one wonder at what else in any other article is incorrect?
any of you legal eagles trying to CYA, remember: check federal statutes, and, as i recall, the rangers could choose cal state, mariposa county, or federal laws to charge people with, as it suited their fancy
I gotta think that if Pam isn't sweatin' it everyone else should be ok. I would have figured she had every governmental agency imaginable climbing her frame at one time or another. The IRS musta been a real joy.
Jim, you hit that nail on the head! Not to mention they were trying to get her to pay for the salvage operation even though they couldn't connect her with the plane. Hell, even her husband was only the pilot, the owner was a bogus company with no paper trail.
As many of you have now learned, the plane was a modified military fighter/bomber called a PV-1 Ventura. Eventually it was purchased by a company in Texas that did the modifications to it to make it a real hot rod. This next Monday I will visit the guy that flew with the company's pilots to determine if the plane(s) were air worthy to be flown back to Texas for modification.
Although there were only 17 Howard 500s built, they started off as 250s, 300s, 350s, and a slew of other variants. Howard Aero was the predecessors to the corporate Lear Jet of today.
Dee Howard was the inventor of the reverse thruster for the commercial jets that we all love to fly in today.
For those that are followers of the Howard 500, for the past 30 years all but 16 have been accounted for. It turns out that the 17th was this plane....stuffed in Lower Merced Pass Lake with way too much dope on board.
Let me add a little to my previous post. As I have been researching the Howard 500, I have learned that the Howard 500 was not a "modified" PV-1 Ventura. The Howard 500 was just about built from the ground up. They used engines, landing gear a a few other parts from the PV-1 Venturas that they found all over North America after WWII, but Howard Aero built new fuselages and wings using fixtures and jigs purchased from Lockheed, then duplicated. This was for all intense and puropse, a new plane. They only produced 17 500s and they cost in excess of $500k brand new back in the mid50s.
Spent Tuesday up in the Valley where I was asked by Butch Farabee to put on a presentation to the Yosemite Alumni Association. It was a one hour talk about some of the things I've found out from my research. In the front row was Lee Shackleton, retired Chief Law Enforcement Ranger and retired Federal Magistrate, Judge Pitts. And a couple of rows back was Vern Clevenger. Ya gotta love the contrast.
For those that came over to speak to me afterwards, thanks so much for your time. It was great to finally put a face to a name/voice that I've talked to or shared email with over the past three and a half years.
I saw an article about John Dill in the Chronicle, the day before watching No Country, and a Google search the next morning brought me to this thread. Two hours later I got to post 532. This is the best thing I've read on the Internet.
I think chainsaw's posts are prolly the best thing. He started out incredibly dumb, and did an about face. Kudos to you, and hope your climb continues to be as dramatic as it has been so far.
Rockjox's passages were also amazingly good. You could almost smell the weed juice on the floor of the shuttle bus, the antifreeze cloud coming off his car, and the sweat reeking from his paranoia.
The Mountain Gazette article was amazingly good. I will always treasure the scene in the Ahwanee dining room, with the climbing bums toasting the Curry Company executives.
The details about the plane seem inane. Hell, the plane was just an expensive truck to drive dope in. It's the contrast among the pilot and co-pilot, making millions taking dope to the States, and the rangers and cops trying to ride herd on the tourists and freaks overrunning Yosemite in the seventies, and the C4B's panhandling and diving dumpsters that makes the story, not where the plane came from. Oh, and it's also the Sierra, too. Some people will give a sh#t about the plane, but it's a minor, distracting note. It was a big, powerful plane, but the Sierra are bigger and more powerful, no? And prettier.
I guess that the back story that leads up to the crash will be the main focus of the book. I hope there will be some nicely drawn parallels between the pilots' risk taking and that of the climbers and rangers and cops in the story. I hope there will be some good arcs drawn for the lives of the various characters. And I hope there will be some sweet descriptions of the Sierra, including what it's like to fly over them, climb them, and police them.
But even if the book never happens, I'd like to thank everyone who posted on this for a really good read.
Pete...when I gave my presentation at the Alumni Association's meet last Tusday, one of the retired Rangers came up to me. He said that all of the information was great, but when it came to the plane's history and the stats on it, he leaned forward in his seat. He has a keen interest in aircraft and this really got his attention.
You see, the story has so many angles. If you've read this thread from start to finish, you'll see how many people have so many interests in this story.
For those that have followed this airplane from its inception, all thought it was lost. Since there were only 17 ever made, all of the books ever published on the subject show it as "lost". Thirty years later it pops up with a very unique story behind it.
If you ever think you know how a drug organization works, or at least from back in the 70s, then you'll appreciate some of the stuff that I'm only now learning. No names, just situations. None of them climb, but the book with be of interest from their perspective.
So don't be too quick to think that the story is all about the drugs or the climbers.
Its like holding a cut diamond. You can never see all of the same sides at once.
now, mr. pitts was a good guy - we always laughed when he'd bring his own six-pack to the curry bar and not even tip the waitresses to sit there and take up a table - but he'd chat with anyone, and who wanted to be on the bad side of the local magistrate? little did he know, but i doubt anyone working would have charged him for beer - maybe he didn't like schlitz dark draught - only place i ever saw that brew was curry, did they have it made special?
I don't know if any Brits have contributed to this tale, but the general gist of it had made it over to the UK by 78 and was widley known in the climbing community - was it kinda reported in Mountain?
During the 78 summer season at Chamonix, I met two of your regulars from on here who were having a 'grand tour' on the back of the weed's proceeds. They were then pretty well at the end of their dollars and seemed to be living from hand to mouth! One went back to the US, the other came to the UK with his very attractive girlfriend, and stole at least one highly prized first free ascent - you know who you are!
It's been a fascinating thread, I look forward to the book - when it eventually happens!
Mighty...there is no chase here. This book isn't a novel with a punch line or an ending. Its a historical book with facts. If I went to print now people would be complaining that not all was told. If Sirloin has read at least three of the pages from this thread then he'd know what I'm talking about.
Movie rights? Nope, not until the book is finished. I have been approached, but I'm not interested until the book if finished.