Russell County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: October 17, 2006
Author: Mike Schwartz

After my recent ascent of Beartown, I did some research into the better- preserved of the two wrecks near the summit. See for a link to pictures of the wrecks, posted by Ryan Richardson. I entered the registration number, N5142R, visible on one of the pictures, into the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) data base of aircraft accidents and found that the aircraft is a Cessna 172 that took off from Marietta, GA, en route Charleston, WV, on August 30, 1974. What was surprising was that the NTSB still listed the aircraft as missing and had no info as to the location of the wreckage.

I contacted the local NTSB office, which verified that they still considered it missing, and assigned an investigator from their VA office to check it out. He contacted me today and informed me that the wreckage was found a year and a half after the accident, at which time the remains of the 29-year old pilot, wife, and child had been removed and returned to their family. Apparently some of the instrument panel was removed at some point, as reported to me by one of our members who has been to the wreck (I hiked up from the other side of the mountain and did not pass the wreckage). No federal agencies were ever informed.

The NTSB investigator, a Brian Rayner (tel: 571-223-3923), asks that if anyone is going to do Beartown and will be viewing the wreckage, that they take a series of photos of the wreckage and surrounding terrain. No one from the NTSB will be visiting the site, as they don't feel that there is much to be learned, safety-wise, at this late date, and don't want to spend limited resources. Mr. Rayner asks that potential visitors contact him for details on what photos he would want taken.