Monday, July 6, 2020

Incredible video shows how Chinook airlifted famous ‘Into the Wild’ bus from Stampede Trail

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The Alaska National Guard has released fascinating video footage shows the successful extraction of a famous ‘Into the Wild’ bus located west of the Teklanika River near Healy June 18, 2020.

In a coordinated effort with the Department of Natural Resources, 12 Alaska Army National Guardsmen assigned to 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment conducted a unique operation to airlifted abandoned 1940s-era bus in the Alaskan wilderness where Christopher McCandless famously documented his death by starvation in what became the book and movie “Into the Wild”.

The abandoned vehicle that sat 25 miles west of the Parks Highway on Stampede Trail, known as “Bus 142,” or the “Magic Bus,” was popularized by John Krakauer’s 1996 book “Into the Wild,” and Sean Penn’s film adaptation in 2007 that chronicles the story of 24-year-old adventurer Chris McCandless, who spent the summer in the bus in 1992 and died of starvation after 114-days.

Numerous travelers have sought to reach the bus by retracing McCandless’ steps, and many have come to harm or required search-and-rescue services while hiking in harsh weather or crossing the rain- and meltwater-swollen Teklanika or Savage rivers.

There were 15 bus-related search and rescue operations by the state between 2009 and 2017 according to DNR reports. As recently as this February, Alaska State Troopers rescued five Italian hikers, one of which suffered severe frostbite. Individual travelers from Switzerland and Belarus drowned in 2010 and 2019, prompting public outcry, particularly among local Alaskans to reduce or eliminate the hazard.

The Army National Guard employed a CH-47 Chinook, an American twin-engine, tandem rotor, heavy lift helicopter, to execute what was deemed as “Operation Yutan” and extracted the bus successfully. The aircrew also ensured the safekeeping and safe transportation of a suitcase that holds sentimental value to the McCandless family.

The bus will be stored at a secure site while the DNR considers all options and alternatives for its permanent disposition.

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Executive Editor

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