Grand Canyon Rafters Discover Airplane Wreckage

Colorado River rafters went on a hike in search of old mining equipment. What they found instead was a heavily-damaged airplane wedged between two boulders.
Rafting the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon

Rafting the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon

May 8, 2015: Colorado River rafters went on a hike in search of old mining equipment. What they found instead was a heavily-damaged airplane wedged between two boulders.

Thousands of rafters stop at Emerald Camp when they know that the camps down river are full. The group that discovered the plane did likewise. One of the hikers, John Weisheit told the Deseret News that they were "curious to find out if there was any equipment in the area from old mines so he proposed a difficult loop hike up large boulders and openings in the cliff. Someone else in the group spotted the wreckage and called the others over."

Four days later, the group reported the discovery to the National Park Service.

It is assumed that this is the hand-built airplane flown by Joseph Radford of Glendale, Arizona. Joseph had been missing since 2011.

At the time, there was speculation that the plane was intentionally crashed. Radford had arguments with family and friends, telling them that he would kill himself. He turned off his airplane's radio within a minute of taking off.

Initial searches of the area turned up empty.

After discovery, it took a few weeks for recovery crews to reach the downed plane. The plane was located about 30-miles northwest from the National Park's Grand Canyon Village. Verifying the skeletal remains of the pilot may take several months.

Related: Dramatic Video of Grand Canyon Rafting Trip | Grand Canyon Rafting and Water Activities


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