In a deserted clearing on the side of Humphrey’s peak lies one of the oddest hidden sights in Arizona. Engine parts and torn metal lie scattered about the boulders. The remnants of an aircraft wing are in the distance. It’s a B-24 Bomber crash site that, due to its inaccessibility, remains oddly preserved and untouched.
The crash itself happened in 1944. The bomber, a training version of the strategic bombers used in battle, took off from an airbase in California and was supposed to fly a routine night route to New Mexico. There was no moon that night and cloud cover was low, which resulted in the aircraft getting off course by almost 15 miles. Around 3:30 am, the bomber slammed into the west side of Humphrey’s Peak at an elevation of over 11,000 feet, killing all eight people on board. While an investigation occurred and the crash site was analyzed, much of it is left exactly how it was after the dust settled seventy-four years ago, the tragedy preserved for future generations of hikers.
There’s a good reason the wreckage wasn’t removed. Reaching the site is a challenge only experienced hikers should attempt. The route up to the crash involves steep switchbacks, rock fields, and scrambling up the mountain in unmarked territory. The only sign letting you know you are on the right track is the plane’s propeller, located a short distance from the clearing.
Once you arrive, however, there is plenty to see. Take some time exploring the area. Of particular note is the plaque left by the American Armenian Airmen's Association in 1994 as a memorial to the crew of the plane. The plaque itself was bolted into a piece of the wreckage.
There’s a lot of hidden beauty in Arizona. No matter what area of the state you are in, venturing out into the wild can turn up a whole host of surprises. Of course, it’s always better to go with someone who knows their way around, so if you want to go exploring the desert, a guided ATV tour is a good way to go! It’s one of the many great things to do in Arizona.