By DAVID B. ROGERS
Fifty years ago, Aug. 4, 1973, my friend Bruce Gallaher went on an overnight backpack trip near Penitente Peak with a companion. While descending from the summit of that peak, they stumbled across the wreckage of a small plane, missing since October 2, 1968.
The plane crash, in dense forest, killed the four passengers. They had been scouting for elk in anticipation of hunting season. Their remains and personal effects lay around the site. The missing plane had been the subject of one of the most intensive such searches in New Mexico history. After government and civilian agencies stopped searching, the passengers’ families, coworkers, and friends continued looking for years. Gallaher’s discovery of the plane provided a resolution for the passengers’ loved ones.
Gallaher grew up in Los Alamos and worked for years at LANL. When he died in May 2013, he had just completed his book “The Big One”. The book describes circumstances leading to the plane crash, and the subsequent search.