Google Earth updated their imagery of the Mojave desert in 2018 and aviation archeologists have been making some incredible finds. Some members of the Wreckchasing message board tracked down the initial impact point of the famous XB-70 & F-104N midair collision from 1966 and found pieces still sitting out in the desert fifty years later.
Sam Parker is an aviation enthusiast and an expert Google Earth imagery specialist. He was able to answer the question about where the debris from the initial impact came down. He has spent hundreds of hours viewing Google Earth images to determine the trace marks left behind from aircraft accidents. Google Earth updated their imagery of the Mojave Desert in 2018 and for the first time details emerged that revealed that something may have been forgotten in the desert from the 1966 accident more than 50 years ago. As previously confirmed, a piece of gleaming metal debris as small as one square foot in size or even smaller can be found using Google Earth if the sun angle at the time of the image is just right. Aluminum can show up in an image as a white pixelated area against a darker background. It just so happened that the updated Google Earth imagery of the Mojave Desert area in question was updated when the sky was clear and the sun angle was just right. Sam scanned and scrutinized the imagery looking for those telltale glimmering pixels in the images. They could be glistening quartz rocks or they could be pieces of aluminum that had fallen there long ago. There was no way to be sure of what the white pixels were without boots on the ground to confirm them. The problem was that there were literally hundreds of white pixel targets that needed to be checked out in the area of interest.
Sam methodically plotted the target coordinates and then plotted the best routes to get to them. On his own initiative and all by himself, Sam drove out into the vast unknown desert wilderness to see what the white pixel targets were. After cresting a small hill and searching through the sage brush, Sam came upon a large piece of white painted aircraft aluminum. Sam turned the piece over and it revealed honeycomb construction and part numbers confirming that it was from the North American XB-70. Sam had done the seemingly impossible; he had discovered one of the largest pieces of the historic XB-70 Valkyrie since 1966 and made history!
Film of the accident:
XB-70 pilot Al White talks about his career, the collision, and the life of a test pilot during a long interview recorded in 1979. (From the Royal Aeronautical Society podcast):