TIGHAR has completed its contract with the U.S. Government Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conduct an archaeological survey of the site of the 1948 crash of the Northrop YB-49 Flying Wing that killed Capt. Glen W. Edwards, for whom Edwards Air Force Base is named. 2002’s Introductory Course in Aviation Archæology and Historic Preservation and the Training Expedition focused on that site.
 

Saturday, October 5 through Wednesday, October 9, 2002

Aviation Archæology Course: Marriot Courtyard Hotel, Palmdale, CA

Field School: YB-49 crash site, Boron, CA

Richard Gillespie, Executive Director, TIGHAR
Roger Kelley, Senior Field Researcher
Special Guest Lecturer, Garry Pape, author of Northrop Flying Wings (Schiffer Publishing, 1995).

Everyone who completed the Course and Field School received the “C” and “E” certifications to their TIGHAR member number. These certifications are prerequisites for any TIGHAR member wishing to be considered for the Niku V expedition team. Participants were:

Amanda Dunham, 2418CE Jerry Kobbeman, 0474CE Don Mayborn, 1372CE
Jon Overholt, 2457 CE Valerie Salven, 2543 CE Karin Sinniger, 2485CE
  Michael Zuschlag, 2386CE  

We worked and camped for two days and two nights in the high desert. It was very hot during the day and quite chilly at night. Meals were delicious MREs (military Meal, Ready to Eat). There was no need to hike to the camp site but the survey work involved considerable exploration for scattered aircraft components (the aircraft broke up in flight). We shared the desert with its customary residents, including rattlesnakes and scorpions, but everyone worked well and safely and a good time was had by all.

Glen EdwardsUnlike previous TIGHAR field schools, the YB-49 crash site does not feature big recognizable chunks of airplane. Most of the wreckage was cleaned up right after the crash. What remains is a rather large depression littered with hunks of melted aluminum marking the main impact point, and a still-unknown number of outlying sites where various major components came to earth. Preliminary metal detector investigations suggest an abundance of buried components. Surprisingly, given the importance of the crash, the entire site was apparently never mapped nor were all of the remains of the five men aboard accounted for. After 54 years many questions remain about this historic crash. Perhaps we'll be able to answer some of them. (At right: Glen Edwards, who lost his life in the crash.)

Today’s B-2 marks the resurgence of a visionary design concept that might have dictated the shape of all large aircraft had things gone a little differently in the late 1940s. The jet-powered YB-49 was the culmination of that first abortive generation of tailless aircraft and, just as the loss of the Hindenburg signaled the end of the rigid airship, so the crash that we investigated heralded the disappearance, for many years, of the “flying wing.” What we did in October was an archæological examination of the grave of the B-2’s Granddaddy.

Click HERE for a complete report on 2000’s course in Idaho.

Click HERE for a complete report on 2001’s course in California.


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