Evaluation and Assessment of Significance
Archaeological Site: 8BY1817 (Aircraft Crash)
Final Report, April 24, 2017, page 4.

Site Specific Aviation Historical Context, cont.

Figure 6. View to SW on firebreak at NE end of 8BY1817.

Figure 7. View to W at E end of 8BY1817.

Figure 8. View to NE on firebreak at SW end of 8BY1817.

Figure 9. View to E from firebreak near W end of 8BY1817. Dead Oak tree is near apparent center of debris field.

Research Design

The TIGHAR archaeological investigations on 8BY1817 from February 21-25 and subsequent archival research had three objectives, foremost among which was to conclusively identify the aircraft represented by the wreckage. The second objective once the crash was identified was to assess the historical significance of the site through archival research along with archaeological field documentation and analysis. The third and final objective was to offer an opinion regarding the eligibility of the site for the National Register of Historic Places.

Environmental Setting

8BY1817 is situated on a gently rolling terrace at an elevation of approximately 19ft amsl. Due to clear cutting of timber, the area presents an open canopy featuring widely scattered scrub oak and oak saplings as well as immature magnolia and pine. Yaupon, prickly pear, saw palmetto, gallberry, and greenbrier are also found throughout the site. Debris from the clear cutting covers the ground, along with seedlings and scattered grasses allowing a surface visibility of approximately 50%. The debris resulting from timber harvesting and growing vegetation undoubtedly obscures additional artifacts from the plane crash. In addition to disturbance from timbering operations, it is clear that extensive salvage efforts by USAF personnel occurred shortly after the crash, causing additional dispersal of the remaining artifacts from their point of origin over a wide area.9

Fieldwork

Gary Francis Quigg, M.A., R.P.A., of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) conducted field investigations for the assessment and evaluation of the site to determine National Register eligibility. Reconnaissance efforts included a thorough and systematic pedestrian surface survey, a comparison of the current site condition with the report from the initial 2015 field investigations, text notes, digital photography, video tape recording, detailed measurements, and extensive analysis of the fragmentary artifacts from the crashed aircraft. No subsurface work was initiated. Quigg’s observations first confirmed the site originated from an aircraft crash and further resulted in the following conclusions: that the site surface contained less than 5% of the aircraft wreckage, that the debris consisted of aircraft fragments manufactured from the late 1940s through the 1950s, and that the widely scattered debris field resulted from a high speed/high angle of incidence crash and subsequent salvage efforts. Quigg was unable to ascertain the magnetic heading the aircraft was traveling at the time of impact, nor the precise impact location. No surface crater, resulting push pile, or other related crash terrain feature was observed.

However, Quigg posits, based on the propensity of artifact concentration, that the center of the debris field is relatively consistent with the center of the site boundaries. This location was conveniently marked, at the time of fieldwork, by a large dead oak tree. The site boundaries were found to be relatively consistent with those reported from the initial 2015 fieldwork (130m northeast/southwest by 75m northwest/southeast), although Quigg expanded them, based on observed surface artifacts, to 170m northeast/southwest by 80m northwest/southeast. As 8BY1817 was precisely mapped by the Global Positioning System (GPS) during the 2015 initial survey, no additional mapping was undertaken during 2017 fieldwork. (See figures 6, 7, 8 and 9 for general views of the site.)10

The extant surface wreckage consists primarily of small fragments rendered unidentifiable by the crash event or resulting post-crash disturbance from heavy equipment used in wreck salvage operations and clear cut timbering. A few partial assemblies, and fewer small objects that retain their original form, survive. However, close visual examination of these fragmentary artifacts has revealed useful information.


9

Campbell, Wildt, Morehad, Clark, and Stewart, “Cultural Resources Survey of TY-107,” 216. Back.

10

Teresa L. Brown, M.A., archaeologist and Cultural Resources Program Coordinator of Tyndall AFB, escorted Quigg to the site and provided a general orientation on the first day of fieldwork; Campbell, Wildt, Morehad, Clark, and Stewary, “Cultural Resources Survey of TY-107,” 217. It should be noted that this 2015 field investigations report included photographs and analysis of artifacts that included a muffler from a modern era vehicle interpreted as originating from a “tractor trailer” and a modern vehicular brake assembly interpreted as an “unidentified aircraft part.” Quigg was able to relocate the brake assembly, but was unable to relocate the muffler. Quigg posits these modern artifacts were deposited recently as a part of mowing activity known to have occurred at the site by Tyndall AFB personnel. Back.

Abstract & Introduction Previous Investigations and Preliminary Findings Site Specific Aviation Historical Context Site Specific Aviation Historical Context 2 Artifact Analysis
Artifact Analysis 2 Archival Research NRHP Assessment of Eligibility & Recommendation Bibliography  

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