COBWEB CORNERS: The mystery of the Pikes Peak plane
By Mel McFarland
This is a mystery that I am learning more and more about, but as Paul Harvey would say, I am still looking for “the rest of the story.”
Way back in the late 1950s, I think it was 1958 or '59, an airplane was put on display on top of Pikes Peak. I even have a post card of it up there. It was mainly to commemorate the research done on aircraft engines, both piston and jet, on top of the mountain. If you have been to the top, and walked around, you may have seen the plaque dedicating the site where this was done. There are some concrete pads and hooks in the ground, but not much else, today.
The Air Force had a big display down at the City Auditorium, I think it was on Armed Forces Day, where they showed this jet plane they planned to put on the top of the mountain. Now, a plane on the Peak may sound like a good idea, but it is not. You may have never been up there when the wind is blowing at nearly 100 miles an hour. Well, believe it or not, airplanes are not built for this kind of wind. What do you mean? Well, I mean blowing at them at any direction but the front!
It was not long before the wind started blowing the airplane apart. It began to look pretty nasty and dangerous. Children climbing on it could get cut pretty seriously. The cure was to take it down, and that's what happened. There are several spots - out of the view of the general public - where trash used to get dumped, in the days before the EPA. The plane was taken to one of these spots and slowly buried in trash.
Here's where the mystery comes in. Some years ago, as I understand it, someone learned about the plane and took it on as a restoration project. The plane was dug out, dismantled into manageable chunks and brought down the mountain to be restored. Do any of you know about this? Was it finished; is it on display somewhere? I have told others this tale but so far, no finishing touches.
One last comment. They never learn. When the race car museum over in Manitou closed a few years ago, some of the old Pikes Peak Hill Climb cars were put on the top, on display. The same thing happened as before. The side winds just blew them apart!