On June 30, 1970, a small Piper single-engine airplane with only a pilot on board disappeared while en route from Boston to Newfoundland in Canada. For three months, no one knew what happened to the plane or the pilot, retired Air Force Capt. Robert McGaunn.
But that fall, a local pilot spotted the wreckage of the plane near the top of a mountain in Acadia National Park, and McGaunn’s body was recovered. Scattered parts of the plane have remained strewn about the crash site ever since.
The site has become a hidden attraction of sorts for people who know of it, even though the park does nothing to promote or maintain it. Visitors who seek out the debris have come to see the site as a quasi- , though unsanctioned, memorial for McGaunn, with the wreckage serving as a reminder of his death. But with the rise in popularity of social media usage by park visitors, the site could end up getting more traffic than some people think it should.
There is no record of park officials ever making a long-term decision one way or the other about how the park should manage the site, according to Acadia spokeswoman Christie Anastasia.
Park officials did not ask the Bangor Daily News not to disclose the location of the crash site but because the park does not publicize the site, and because many repeat visitors view the wreckage as a de facto memorial, the BDN is not revealing where it is located.
Anastasia said the park removed some of the larger pieces of wreckage not long after the downed plane was found, but that removing the smaller pieces was not a high priority. A compelling reason to fully clean up the site has never materialized, she added, and park officials figured the remaining pieces probably would be overgrown by vegetation and that the site would blend into the landscape.
“We’re still working off the decision the park made in 1970,” Anastasia said. “Nothing has made it a front-burner decision that we need to look at.”