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Wild Horse Table: Jet Crash - Idaho, United States

by bedobe  
with a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx
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Having heard of an old military jet crash site somewhere in the Owyhees, I collected information from various sources which confirmed there was in fact a jet crash at Wild Horse Table in Owyhee County, Idaho.  The best information to date indicates the jet was USAF McDonnell Douglas Phantom F-4D.  The tail number was 65889 and the accident date was October 04, 1969.  Should anyone have information regarding the crash (especially the pilot) please contact me so that I can include it in this listing. 


F-4:  The F-4 Phantom is a two seat, twin engine all weather, long range supersonic (Mach 2+) interceptor fighter/fighter-bomber and held 15 world records including the absolute speed record and an altitude record.

The Phantom was a work horse for all branches of service during the Vietnam War and even saw limited service in the 1991 Gulf War before being retired in 1996.  It was gradually replaced by the F-15 & F-16 (USAF) and the F-14 & F/A F-18 (Navy).

I decided to locate the crash site with the objective of documenting and posting the specific location(s) of remaining debris from that crash with photos in order that others may also locate and visit the site.  To that end I also planned to place a geocache at the location.


On June 15, 2011 Trapper42 and I traveled on our ATVs to Wild Horse Table in Owyhee County, Idaho and did locate the crash site.  This particular spring has been wet and unusually cool and we delayed this trip for some time, waiting for the terrain to dry out.  Even so, we encountered patches of standing water and mud on our way in from the north.  As shown in the accompanying photos there was still a lot of snow accumulated at the base of the 100' high cliffs, which is understandable considering  the elevation is 6,000 feet.   


Approaching Horseshoe Reservoir we first saw from some distance (due to the silver metallic color) what some had said was a wing.  Upon inspection it was found to be the 'nacelle' or that part of the fuselage that covers or houses the engines.  Before reaching the nacelle we saw various parts of the jet scattered about.  We also found a blackened area which appeared to be a burn pile of many items apparently gathered from the crash site. 


I placed a micro geocache at the site of the nacelle and we then traveled to locate the remaining major components of jet.  By visiting the geocache listing you can get the exact coordinates of the debris sites http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=c11a3170-368d-4b18-ab8d-57e04d97e653 or you could download the track.


We circled around Wild Horse Table to the east and then south, climbing up Crab Creek road to get on top of Wild Horse Table.  Once on top the engines where discovered in the distance.  We parked on the road and hiked to the engines.  Range fires have no doubt consumed many of combustible items but small bits and pieces of  the aircraft can still be seen scattered about, i.e., hoses, connections, brackets, etc.  The jet's two engines (which may be GE J79s) and related components are situated very close to the edge of the rim, from which you can look down and see the nacelle.  The distance from the engines to the nacelle is 200 yards.   


On the way to the engines, we caught the reflection of another component of the aircraft which we also visited on the way back to the ATVs.  That item is also approximately 200 yards from the engines.  All three crash site items are of course in line.  


We traveled back to the nacelle location and I found a path through the brush and thickets which allowed for an easy climb up the cliff and onto the top Wild Horse Table.  The climb up to the rim was easy due to the large amount of snow being there at the base of the cliff.  I was able to walk up on top of the snow nearly to the rim's edge.  If I were going to visit the site again I would climb the cliff and hike to the engines rather than drive around Wild Horse Table and up Crab Creek Road. 


This part of the Owyhees is still used today for military training.  During this trip we saw A-10s and F-15 Eagles.  On more than one occasion I have had the pilots see me or the camp and do a very close close fly over, sometimes more than once, especially the A10s.  It seems the training activities are during the week.

Note:  Owyhee roads are not for the faint of heart or your average family van or sedan.  A 4-wheel drive vehicle or ATV, UTV, or motorcycle with high clearance is required.  Be prepared to relay on yourself in the Owyhees and be aware that where you are going is inhabited by snakes (yes, rattlesnakes) and other critters.  

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Photos: See all pictures and videos from Wild Horse Table: Jet Crash
Comments (3)
Love it a new crash site on my todo list
by quadsinthemudd on Jun 20, 2011
Once again, great write up and photos, thanks for taking the time to share your stories......Wiz
by wizonkiz on Jun 19, 2011
Excellent photos and great narration of history. I also have seen this several years ago riding dirt bikes. I tried to get my buddy to pack out some stuff for me, but he wouldn't go for it. Imagine that?

Great job Gary!

by kennymill on Jun 19, 2011
Trip Info
by bedobe
June 15, 2011
Trip Location: Buncel Place, Idaho, United States
Length: 43 miles
Duration: 7 hours
Activity: ATV, geocaching, hiking
Trip viewed 4,113 times
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