Helicopter Crash Memorial – Fallon, Nevada - Atlas Obscura

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Helicopter Crash Memorial

Unopened beer cans are left at this monument to honor the Navy men who lost their lives during a training mission.  


Fallon, Nevada is the unexpected site of the Naval Air Station Fallon, one of the US Navy’s largest training facilities for naval aviation. Presumably, it’s somewhat safer for aviators-in-training to practice over the desert rather than the open sea.

It’s hardly “safe,” however, and there have been several terrible accidents. One of the worst is remembered by this remote memorial, off US 50 near Sand Mountain. Five Navy men were killed when their SH-3 Sea King helicopter went down on a training exercise on March 22, 1978.

The memorial, at the crash site, was restored by E Clampus Vitus in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Navy. Visitors have paid their respects by leaving unopened cans of beer at the base of the memorial.

Know Before You Go

The memorial is on a sandy Jeep track that will require high clearance and 4wd. The turnoff from U.S. 50 is on the north side at 39.299931 W, 118.481310 W.

The turnoff is difficult to find and extra caution is needed because it is just west of a blind curve on US-50. A ridge on the north side of the highway blocks the view back east toward Sand Mountain, and the nominal speed limit through here is 70 mph.

The dirt track immediately turns east, onto a short stretch of the old highway, and parallels modern US 50 on the north for about 1400 feet. The track then turns north to climb up over the low ridge, where it then drops down on the east side. After about 1.3 miles, the memorial will appear right on the track on the north side.

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September 2, 2022

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