Page 10 - Discover Winter 2023
P. 10

Tragedy on Sharp Top CONTINUED

      on ahead. Within minutes, the plane                    resources, most of the planes that
      slammed into the side of Sharp                         crashed in wilderness areas were never

      Top Mountain at about 3000 feet,                       recovered, and this particular plane
      destroying the aircraft and killing                    is no exception. Nothing salvageable
      everyone on board. The resultant fire                  remained from the aircraft, and there
      was visible from up to 10 miles away.                  was no top secret equipment on board.

      Another 500 feet of altitude would have  So the huge debris field was never
      safely taken them over the mountain.                   cleared from the side of Sharp Top.
      Instead, treetops were shorn off by
                                                                Everything from tiny shards of
      the plane’s props, and the aircraft was
                                                             aluminum to huge chunks of the
      smashed to pieces.
                                                                                           bomber are still
         Rescue workers                                                                    scattered down
      from the local                                                                       the mountain
      fire and police                                                                      slope. What’s

      departments were                                                                     left of its two
      dispatched to                                                                        engines is clearly
      the scene of the                                                                     visible at the

      fiery crash, which                                                                   site. The exact
      was not easily                                                                       location of the
      accessible. For its                                                                  debris field is
      part, with a war                                                                     not publicized,
      on, the Army was                                                                     although many

      not able to devote                                                                   have found
      much in the way of manpower and                        it on their own. There is a memorial
      resources to assist in the recovery effort.            plaque dedicated to the memory of

      In fact, that same day, they were dealing  the men who were lost, and in spite of
      with at least one other plane crash. So                the passage of nearly 8 decades, a fair
      it was up to the local first responders                amount of the wreckage remains.
      to collect the remains of the crew
                                                                Scavengers and souvenir hunters have
      members and bring them down the
                                                             desecrated the site by scratching names
      steep side of the mountain, in icy and
                                                             and initials on bits and pieces of the
      snowy conditions.
                                                             plane, salvaging aluminum to sell for
         Far from being an isolated incident,                scrap, or just grabbing small items as

      this was a lot more common of an                       mementos of their visits. Still, a great
      occurrence than people know. What’s                    deal of the debris is still up there.
      interesting is that again, due to the
                                                                Countless hikers on the Appalachian
      lack of available manpower and
                                                             Trail have passed by the site over the

      8      Discover Smith Mountain Lake  WINTER 2022
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