With much of winter’s snow finally melted, a team of Air Force experts flew to a peak high in the Rockies on Monday to look for the bombs and debris from the mysterious crash of an A-10 warplane.
The wreckage was discovered on Gold Dust Peak on April 20 after an 18-day search, but severe weather at the time prevented the Air Force from doing little more than confirming from fragmentary remains that the pilot, Capt. Craig Button, had been killed.
“We’re trying to recover the ordnance on the airplane, anything that poses a danger to anybody, and recover anything that could be of use to the accident investigation board that is looking into the possible causes of this accident,” Air Force spokesman Maj. Joe LaMarca said.
Button broke formation during a training run over Arizona and flew more than 800 miles off course on April 2. His plane crashed against a steep, craggy rock face at an elevation of about 12,500 feet.
The biggest safety concern is the A-10’s load of four bombs, each powerful enough to throw fragments 3,300 feet. Such bombs are designed for use against tank columns and runways.
In addition, the warplane carried about 500 rounds of 30 mm ammunition and approximately 60 magnesium flares that are used to throw heat-seeking missiles off target. The shells and flares could be dangerous if struck by lightning or stepped on by a hiker.