Quest for Closure
 

Click to enlarge
On 20 November 1997, Dr. Raymond Puffer of the Air Force Flight Test Center History Office informed Pete Merlin that he had a visit from McConnell's daughter Patricia. She wanted to visit her father's crash site. Pete told Ray that he hadn't researched McConnell's accident, but would do the best he could with what little information he had.

The next day, Pete took Patricia out to the vicinity of Saddleback Mountain, about 12 miles northeast of Edwards. Their search proved fruitless, but Pete promised he would get more information.

On 22 November, Pete met with Tony Moore for an expedition to the X-15 crash site. Tony had received an unexpected package from aviation archeologist Craig Fuller. It contained the McConnell F-86H accident report, along with detailed maps and recent photos of the crash site. "I wish I had known about this," said Pete, "I needed it yesterday!"

Pete and Tony drove immediately to the F-86 crash site. It was easy to find. There was a distinct impact crater and a wide scattering of debris. Identifiable pieces included parts of the airframe, engine, and cockpit.

A few months later, Pete arranged to take Patricia McConnell back out to the site. This time, they visited the main impact site and the spot where Capt. McConnell had perished. There, Patricia laid a wreath of flowers in memoriam. She had been very young when the accident happened, but she remembered swimming with friends at a house on Edwards. The smoke from the crash was visible in the distance. Until recently, she hadn't known the full story of her father's death. The visit to the crash site finally brought some measure of closure.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge


Copyright © 2004-2016, The X-Hunters. All rights reserved.   Copyright Policy   Privacy Policy   Page last modified 05/14/2007