Operation Yutan: ‘Into the Wild’ Bus Airlifted from Alaska Backcountry Due to Growing Safety Concerns
OutdoorHub Editor: Keenan Crow 06.24.20
Alaskan authorities last week took the iconic ‘Into the Wild’ bus out of the wild for good.
As part of a quietly organized joint operation between the Alaskan National Guard and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, an Army National Guard Chinook helicopter removed the old Fairbanks city bus from its remote location near Denali National Park where 24-year-old adventurer Christopher McCandless once found refuge. His story later became the subject of a popular nonfiction book “Into the Wild,” which was then turned into a film directed by Sean Penn.
After gaining popularity, the retro ‘Bus 142’ became a growing safety hazard for tourists.
Fox News reports Alaska authorities have made 15 search-and-rescues of tourists who were either lost, injured or stuck while attempting to make the trek to the famous land mark. Two people even drowned.
A handful of photos posted to Facebook reveal a twin-blade Chinook helicopter lifting the bus from where it had been parked and abandoned in the 1960’s:
The operation required 12 National Guard workers to remove the bus; they cut holes in the ceiling and floor to attach chains to, the agency said in a prepared statement. The crew also “ensured the safekeeping and safe transportation of a suitcase that holds sentimental value to the McCandless family,” the statement reads.
The effort was called “Operation Yutan,” in a reference to Yutan Construction – the actual company that left the bus behind after it housed workers building a mining road centuries ago – said National Guard spokeswoman Candis Olmstead.
The bus will be stored at a secure site while the DNR considers options for its permanent disposition. The department is discussing whether to display the bus at a safe location.
“Conducting this sling load was definitely non-standard,” said Maj. Zachary Miller, an executive officer with 1-207th AVN and primary pilot for the extraction. “We took our enlisted Soldiers with the most experience and expertise in this area to develop the best and safest solution. Like any mission, we were prepared to adjust along the way and I was confident that our crews were up for the challenge.”
Here’s a video from MILE30 Adventures that dives into more details: