Footnotes of History: B-24 Engines at Mount Harrison

“They can become kind of a larger story within the history...”
Footnotes of History: B-24 Bomber Engines at Mount Harrison
Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 4:06 AM MDT|Updated: 4 hours ago
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —Somethings can be relinquished to what can be called the “Footnotes of History” these are usually obscure but show up every so often. “Now each generation looks at its history, and that history is interpreted through the context of your experience and your time,” Dr. Russell Tremayne a local historian noted in an interview. A perfect example still has wreckage in the bowl of Mount Harrison where in 1945 a standard training mission went amiss.

“The crew checks in at about 8:30 P.M. that evening with the Burley Radio Range and then there was no other feed after that,” Matt Burns a Historian for the 366 Fight Wing at Mountain Home Air Force Base said.

The nine men who were on the plane that evening wouldn’t check in again and the wreckage of their plane would be found the next day.

“They were actually supposed to stay northwest of the mountain range and northwest of Mount Harrison and somehow got confused, got lost, and ended up actually southeast of the mountain,” Mr. Burns said referring to the crash incident report.

Following finding the crash site recovery efforts unfolded but were hampered by server weather moving into area and rough terrain,

“They find the plane. But in the next day or two, there’s actually a massive blizzard which buries the B-24 under some significantly deep snow, and that causes some problems for the Army Air Force because they are trying to get equipment out there,” Mr. Burns said.

Recovery was slow and they ended up leaving two engines behind at the scene.

“There’s really no explanation as to why they leave certain parts of the plane behind but recover other parts of it,” Mr. Burns said when speaking on why two B-24 engines were left behind.

Atop Mount Harrison is a plaque that serves a memorial to the nine men who died in that collision, but questions as to what got them off course still linger, and it could have been due to pilot in experience and new technology.

“The pilot for this plane, Clint Manly, had about 400 hours’ worth of flight time total and only about 100 hours’ worth of flight time within the B-24 itself,” Mr. Burns said when speaking of what could’ve caused the wreck.

It also could’ve been the fact that they got misoriented, or that the instruments didn’t work as intended, but there are no clear answers.

“And unfortunately, that part of it will probably remain a bit of a mystery because the only people that could possibly explain it were the pilot and the co-pilot,” while the mystery of this plane may never be solved there is one thing that both historians can agree on that the engines should remain in their final resting place.

“I think I’m good with just leaving them at the site as a historical artifacts and moving them would take away from their value,” Dr. Tremayne said when asked about preserving the engines.

“They can become part of a kind of larger story within the history about potentially preserving the site,” Mr. Burns said when asked about preserving the engines.