2011 Aviation Archaeology and Heritage Association Meeting
The Aviation Archaeology and Heritage Association (AAHA) is a new organization dedicated to the advancement of aviation as a specific discipline of historic archaeology.
The group’s mission statement is:
Preserve, protect, promote and honor our vast aviation heritage through stewardship, ethically responsible research, investigation, exploration, and excavation of relevant sites and facilities, while also providing information and education so that others will remember and may be inspired.
At the end of April, 2011 my wife, Wendy and I attended the third annual meeting of the AAHA held at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada. The first “unofficial” day of the conference was a guided field trip to two area crash sites. Craig Fuller guided us to the 1945 crash site of a P-39Q Airacobra and the site of a 1979 midair collision between two F-4D Phantom jets in the mountains north of Las Vegas. It was my first group wreck hunt, and it was interesting to compare the differences between desert wreckchasing and what I’m used to in the damp, humid forests of Michigan. Sites out west seem generally larger with more wreckage remaining probably due to the vast amounts of remote and uninhabited terrain of the areas compared to the more populated areas of Michigan. Because of the arid conditions, the wrecksites remain very well preserved with only minor evidence of rust and/or weathering.
We were joined by wreckchasing legend Pat Macha who has authored books and appeared in television shows on the subject. That was a special treat for me.
Pat and Mary Jane Macha holding a windscreen from one of the F-4D Phantom II jets
The next two days were spent at the conference center on Nellis Air Force Base. There we listened to some very interesting presentations from fellow enthusiasts. I was even asked to make a presentation! At the time I had been to six total crash sites (including the two the day before), while most of the others had been to hundreds! I prepared a PowerPoint on my very first wreck site discovery, the Porcupine Mountains B-17.
I had fun, learned a lot and made some contacts that will be great help in my future wreckchasing endeavors. It was great to meet people whom I had previously only talked with via the web.
The AAHA tour group (minus Craig, who took the shot) at the F-4 midair site
A special thanks to Craig Fuller and the members of the Colorado Aviation Historical Society for setting up a great event.
P-39Q Crash site F-4D Midair Crash site