“This afternoon, Alaska Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment executed an extraction mission via a CH-47 Chinook helicopter over Healy, Alaska.”
The school bus made famous by the book and subsequent movie titled “Into The Wild” was removed from the Alaskan backcountry where it had laid since the 1960’s. Alaska Public Media reports a twin-bladed Chinook Army National Guard heavy-lift helicopter has removed the old Fairbanks city bus from the spot near Denali National Park where it once housed Christopher McCandless, the subject of the popular nonfiction book.
There have been 15 bus-related search and rescue operations by the state between 2009 and 2017, prompting the Denali Borough’s request for its removal.
“I know it’s the right thing for public safety in the area, removing the perilous attraction. At the same time, it’s always a little bittersweet when a piece of your history gets pulled out.” -Mayor Clay Walker
Holes in its ceiling and floor to attach chains and the crew of 12 National Guard employees were careful to preserve the bus for prosperity. The effort was called “Operation Yutan” in a reference to Yutan Construction, the company that left the bus behind in the 1960s after it housed workers building a mining road. The bus will be kept in an undisclosed location for “safe storage” while Alaska considers putting it on display.
“We encourage people to enjoy Alaska’s wild areas safely, and we understand the hold this bus has had on the popular imagination. However, this is an abandoned and deteriorating vehicle that was requiring dangerous and costly rescue efforts, but more importantly, was costing some visitors their lives. I’m glad we found a safe, respectful and economical solution to this situation.” -DNRCommissioner Corri Feige
“As part of a combined effort with the Department of Natural Resources, the Guardsmen rigged and airlifted “Bus 142,” an historic icon from book and film, “Into the Wild,” out of its location on Stampede Road in light of public safety concerns. The bus will be stored at a secure site while the DNR considers all options and alternatives for its permanent disposition.” –Alaska National Guard
images from Liz Reeves de Ramos