The Missing Crater
 

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On 9 January 1999, Pete Merlin and Tony Moore journeyed into the Trinity Range near Lovelock, Nevada, in search of the crash site of SR-71A (61-7965/Article 2016). The sky was clear and the air crisp with winter's chill.

Books and newspaper articles had provided little useful information. Fortunately, the accident report contained several photos of the impact crater and a crude map. Tony studied the map as Pete maneuvered the Jeep over trackless terrain. At last, they arrived in what appeared to be the right area. There was, however, no sign of an impact crater.

The photos from the accident report showed an enormous hole in the ground with a high lip around the edge. It looked like a crater on the Moon. Now it was gone.

After parking the Jeep, Pete and Tony separated and searched the surrounding terrain. About 10 minutes later, Pete found a few pieces of titanium. He knew they were close.

They followed a trail of fragments to the impact site. The crater had apparently been filled in, but the ground was covered with debris. A search of the area yielded many identifiable components. These included aircraft structure and skin, cockpit components, pieces of the inlet spike assemblies, and engine parts. One structural component was stamped with the Lockheed article number 2016.

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