Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sharp Top Mountain ~ B-25 Bomber Wrecksite ~

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A few weeks back I read about a plane wreck on the mountain located near my house and just off an Appalachian Trail section that I hike often. A little internet research and numerous e-mails later I was trusted with the location of the wreck and posted photos and description of the incident and wreck site…




While conducting research on this wreck site I found information about another airplane wreck located on Sharp Top Mountain near Bedford Virginia. I have also hiked this area several times and was able to pinpoint the wreck site this week and took these photos…















This plane was a B-25 Bomber and went down in 1943 during a training mission. Following are pieces of information taken from numerous articles I have found on this incident with links provided...



"On Feb. 2, 1943, a B-25 bomber on a training mission out of South Carolina crashed into the southeast flank of Sharp Top Mountain, killing all five servicemen aboard. The cause of the crash is still somewhat of an enigma, as a war-stressed military could not devote many resources to solving the mystery of the crash. Nor, did it have the time or inclination to remove the wreckage from the steep mountainside at 3,000 feet elevation. Most of it remains to this day, a true-to-life memorial to World War II sacrifice amid the Blue Ridge grandeur."



"The Mitchell bomber (the B-25 design was called the Mitchell in honor of a once maverick Air Force General) looked sleek and deadly. It was a versatile design which served in every front of the war. No stranger to action, the B-25 was personally selected by Jimmy Doolittle for his famed raid on Tokyo, Japan from the pitching deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Hornet. It flew as if on rails and was fairly forgiving, but just like any big warbird, it had to be flown precisely. From nose to tail, it measured out just under 53 feet. It stood an imposing 16 feet and four inches high. Each wing held a powerful wright R-2600 engine. Perhaps its most distinctive feature was its twin boom tail. Grossing out at 35,000 pounds, the B-25 could hit 272 miles per hour when called upon to do so."



"On the evening of February 2, 1943 the war landed rudely on our doorstep. At approximately 9 p.m. Lt. Pitt's B-25 pierced the darkness over Bedford. Heading from the south, the distinctive silhouette of his bomber filled the sky. It was illuminated by its exterior marking beacons, and landing lights imaging forward from the wings. The interior lights were also all on. The greenhouse nose canopy was a radiant ball of light in the surrounding darkness. To witnesses on the ground, the massive wright engines sounded out of synchronization. The plane was in trouble. The pilots wheeled their long bomber over our town at a low altitude just skirting over the trees. Visibility in the higher elevations, the Peaks of Otter, was obscured by dense fog. The plane continued to circle and flew onward in a northeasterly direction. Altitude was everything. An extra 500 feet would have meant a safe passage across the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it was not to be. The plane did not clear the mountain. Tree tops were severed by the propellers. A violent impact followed. Unyielding, Sharp Top claimed its first casualties from the air. "



Both of these articles are very good and describe the incident in detail. This piece of history has been written about numerous times over the past 65 years and in fact one of the articles tells how there was no monument to the fallen at the time of writing. Below is the memorial that I found at the wrecksite...








As described in one of the articles the exact location of the wrecksite is not provided due to the damage and scavenging that has taken place over the years. Below is an example of some of this damage to the wrecksite and resting place...















7 comments:

Anonymous said...

very interesting. could someone post directions to this area of the mountain.

Anonymous said...

so in response to the above comment is it not clear why people DONT give directions??!! look at the disrespectful vandalism that occurs WITHOUT making it easy on the public to get there!! I myself am searching for this site and am kind of excited by the fact that I have to really discover it for myself and that there is no trail there.

newdewd2halo said...

Hello,
My name is Stephen and i am an Eagle Scout recipient Troop 70 in Lynchburg VA.
One of the things that my troop does is that they find local crash sites and catelog them.
I have personally been too the crash site and have had the intent of someday takeing a small group up too see it.
This is due too the fact that at the same time i will be makeing a detailed log of all that currently remains.
If you would be interested in POSSIBLY, comeing with me then please send me an email at sdmclean@liberty.edu
Please keep in mind that i may not be able too take you up there because of health concerns at the moment. If i am unable to take you personaly then i will keep your name and when my troop returns to the site i will make sure too extend an invitation.
In God We Trust.
Stephen

Anonymous said...

So I have done research on where this is and several of my friends are going to go in march. I was hoping that someone could tell me if it is off to the left or right of buzzard roost trail and how far down the buzzard roost trail should I go. I understand that people dont want this to be known to the public but if someone could e-mail this info to me at ml18tcs@yahoo.com I would appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

There is a trail, you just have to find it. I took our kids and a friends kids. It was a good lesson on respect and why not to announce the location. Even the memorial has been defaced, sadly.

JPritch said...

I find all this secrecy a bit hypocritical and self-serving. The people looking for this info I am pretty sure are hikers, history buffs, or otherwise well-intending adults. If those who are keeping the location secret were TRULY concerned with preserving the site or honoring the fallen like they say, they wouldn't have ventured up there in the first place to satisfy their own curiosity and then plastered pictures on their websites/blogs/social media accounts to draw even more attention to the crash site.

RightsideVA said...

Pritch,
Thanks for the comment and feel free to move on. I found this wrecksite after research and working the area and found the history very interesting. Unfortunately I also found the damage and graffiti as shown in the photos. It would be nice to be able to make this site available as well as protected but obviously that is not the case...
I have been to another wrecksite after same research and working the area and have shared it with several people, Unfortunately somebody passed on this remote location and the site has been picked over and several significant items are now missing.....
So be it, have thought about taking down the photos and info but have heard reasons to keep them available.....