It was July, 2002, in the desert north of Las Vegas, which can either be described as hot, hot, or hot. Given that it was hot, I headed out for the area where the crash should be with 7 1.5 liter bottles of water in my backpack, plus the camera. Now using some physical constants and a little math:
453.59ml water = 1 lb
1.5 liter water = 3.3 lbs
7 1.5 liter water bottles = 23.14 lbs, not counting the weight of the plastic bottles nor dissolved minerals in the water
It seemed a bit silly to go up and down the hills looking for the crash site carrying all the water bottles (down to 6 at this point since I finished one on the way to the site), so I looked for a good place to stash the bottles. While you can easily take a GPS reading of where the water was dropped off, it is a good idea to look for an area that is easy to spot, just in case the GPS goes fobar. While looking for a place to stash my stash, I came across some ATV tracks. Following these tracks, I came upon the crash site.
Now you are not going to find much of the A12 other than, if I may borrow an Austin Powers phrase, "bits and pieces". Thus begins the tour de bits and pieces, with photos that should be about life size, depending on the dot pitch of your monitor. The GPS dimensions (Size: 2.4"W x 5.5"H x 0.8"D (6 x 14 x 2 cm)) can be used to estimate the size of the debris.
The white with gray streaks item about is some sort of fiber material. There is metal foil in the upper left corner. This does not look like the thick metal foil you often find in the desert that comes from flares dropped by the planes during exercises.
I can't vouch that all the metal in these photos is titanium, but the pieces above have that smokey look.
The item near the center is some sort of casting. The lower item looks like a linkage with universal joint.
You can really see the fibers in the scrap of the item at the top center. The photo also contains red, white, and blue wires, wire rope, and of course more tiny scraps of metal
This looks like the official recovery crew trash, as opposed to more recent beer cans found in the area. For the benefit of the MTV and younger generation, the triangular holes in the cans were made by the so-called "church key" can opener. This predates the flip-top cans.
Since nothing happens on the weekend during Red Flag, it seemed like a good time to revisit the site. Searching a different area, there was metal that had black paint on it. This is most likely from the skin of the A12. This hillside probably contains the point of impact, but it was really hard to say exactly where the plane hit.
Whatever this piece held, it looks like the crash sheared off all the rivets.
Another visitor to the area. Unlike most of the visitors, this one leaves no tracks.