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field school


The Class of 2013

Class and Faculty

L to R, front row:
Mark Smith (video); Ric Gillespie (Exec. Dir.); John Clauss (staff); Dawn Johnson; Cynthia McLellan; Julie Oakley; Lydia McCallister; Gary Quigg (instructor); Tim Wood.
Second row: John Scripps; Jim Linder; Pam Kilpela; Joan Sacks; Lee Paynter; Lary Dorsett; Megan Lickliter-Mundon (Principal Instructor); Ted Parsons; Craig Fuller (instructor); Kurt Kretzmann; Dr. Jim Rogers.

From August 21 to 25, fourteen TIGHARs learned the philosophy and basic practical skills of aviation archaeological investigation during TIGHAR’s 2013 Field School. Following classroom work in Couer D’Alene, TIGHAR instructors guided the students through two days of practical work on the site of a Lockheed Electra crash in the mountains of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.

Sister ship to the Lockheed Model 10A Electra pictured here, NC14935, c/n 1024 (the 24th Model 10 built) was delivered to Northwest Airlines in May 1935.
In the early morning hours of December 18, 1936 while en route from Missoula, Montana to Spokane, Washington carrying mail but no passengers, the aircraft apparently encountered icing conditions resulting in what accident investigators now refer to as “controlled flight into terrain.”
crash site
At an estimated speed of 160 mph the Electra hit the face of a mountain at the top of a steep ravine about 300 feet below the crest of a ridge. The pilots, Joseph Livermore and Arthur Haid, died instantly, but their bodies were thrown clear and not consumed by the post-crash fire that burned much of the wreck.
crash rudder pedal

It was a week before the snow-covered wreckage was found. Much of the aluminum was later salvaged but a rudder pedal visible in this 1936 photo is still present.
A TIGHAR research team first examined the Idaho site in 2004 as part of a project to collect data from known Electra crash sites. For the Field School Class of 2013, the topography was physically challenging but they carried out a detailed survey of the debris field without incident or injury.
Craig and class

Instructor Craig Fuller discusses crash site survey techniques during classroom session in Couer D’Alene. TIGHAR photo by R. Gillespie.
Gary and class

Instructor Gary Quigg reviews some of the equipment the students will be using. TIGHAR photo by R. Gillespie.
One meter unit

How to dig a one meter unit. TIGHAR photo by R. Gillespie.
Are we there yet
Are we there yet? The 2.5 mile hike from campsite to crash site was uphill — both ways. Photo courtesy L. McCallister.
We’re there. Taking a break on top of the ridge before heading down to the crash site. TIGHAR photo by R. Gillespie.
Picking our way down to the crash site. Photo courtesy L. McCallister.
Identifying the point of impact. Ground scar; cockpit glass and debris to the sides; all other debris below. TIGHAR photo by R. Gillespie.

Instructors’ conference. L to R: Craig Fuller, proprietor of Aviation Archaeological Investigation & Research; Megan Lickliter-Mundon, M.A., archaeology, Edinburgh University, Ph.D. candidate in aviation archaeology at Texas A&M; Gary Quigg, Director of TIGHAR Contract Archaeological Services.

Running the baseline down slope from the impact point. Most of the surviving wreckage is in the “draw.” TIGHAR photo by R. Gillespie.

Metal detecting on the side slope. “Like working on a ladder – with bad footing.” (Mark Smith). TIGHAR photo by R. Gillespie.

Debris in the “draw.”  Nearly all of the aluminum has been salvaged over the years.  The surviving wreckage is mostly small debris and heavy steel components. Photo courtesy L. McAllister.
missing axle

Of special interest were the main landing gear components which yielded new information of great significance to the Earhart Project. See “Bevington Object Update,” coming soon. TIGHAR photo by R. Gillespie.
point of impact roses
Archaeology is always about people, not things. Remembering that this was the scene of a human tragedy, before we left Dawn Johnson laid flowers at the point of impact. Photo courtesy L. McCallister.
Happy campers

Tired but happy. L to R, front row: Pam Kilpela, Joan Sacks. Middle row: Tim Wood, Megan Lickliter-Mundon (Principal Instructor), Dr. Jim Rogers. Back row: Kurt Kretzmann, Ted Parsons, Lary Dorsett.
Jim Linder“Thanks so much for a truly fantastic experience in Idaho - it really exceeded my expectations and it was an absolute blast to get to spend some time with you and the TIGHAR team as well as the rest of the group. I was also really impressed with the diversity and experience of the student group. It was just a really great time all around... I hated to come home.”
Jim Linder, TIGHAR #4243R
Photo courtesy L. McCallister.
Lydia McAllister“I just wanted to thank you and everyone involved for making the Idaho field school such a wonderful experience for me! I truly am grateful for your instruction, and feel privileged to have been a participant. The camaraderie, scenery, & schedule/itinerary made for some great memories. … I’m still so hyped from the event that my colleagues think I’m a pain-in-the-ass!”
Lydia McCallister, TIGHAR #2449R
Photo courtesy L. McCallister.

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