The Valley of No Return: The story of the Wichita State University football team plane crash

The charred wreckage of N464M lies on a Colorado mountainside some hours after the crash. (John Putt)
The Wichita State football team involved in the accident, pictured before the crash. (The Wichita Eagle)
A Martin 4–0–4 on display in an aviation history museum. Although no pictures of it are available, the plane involved in the accident was painted white on top with a green stripe down the side and unpainted on the bottom. (Jon Proctor)
The number of parties to the arrangement made it unclear who was responsible for flight safety. (Own work)
Relative locations of Wichita, Logan, and Denver (the refueling stop). (Google)
Skipper’s new plan wasn’t really a plan at all. (Google)
Route of N464M as it climbed into the Rocky Mountains. (Google)
N464M in relation to surrounding obstacles. Note how Mount Sniktau obscures the pilots view of the danger ahead. (Google)
My sketch of the moment of first impact with the trees. (Own work)
The charred wreckage of N464M lies on the mountainside some hours after the crash. (John Putt)
The wreckage was still smoldering when a group of teenage mountain rescue trainees arrived at the crash site around dusk. One of them snapped this photo (and the previous one) — among the only known photos of the wreckage on the day of the accident. (John Putt)
Members of the Evergreen mountain rescue team remove a body from the crash site the day after the accident. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
The aftermath of the Marshall University plane crash. (The Huntington Herald-Dispatch)
A map of where various pieces of wreckage were found along the debris trail. (NTSB)
Amid a sea of molten metal, some football gear was the only recognizable debris. (AP)
Several locals, presumably members of the mountain rescue team, lift up part of the wreckage, probably during the search for bodies. (The Clear Creek Courant)
A charred football helmet lies amid the wreckage. (The Wichita Eagle)
The crash site as it appeared in 2016, photo taken by me. Much of the wreckage is still at the site as it is difficult to reach with heavy machinery. (Own work)
People still leave small notes and mementos at the crash site to remember those who died on October 2nd, 1970. (Mountainous Words)




Analyzer of plane crashes and author of upcoming book (eventually™). Contact me via @Admiral_Cloudberg on Reddit or by email at

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Admiral Cloudberg

Admiral Cloudberg

Analyzer of plane crashes and author of upcoming book (eventually™). Contact me via @Admiral_Cloudberg on Reddit or by email at

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