When the pilot of a plane saw a fireball explode on Emigrant Peak, about 15 miles north of Yellowstone National Park, the dispatcher called out for another plane that was supposed to be on that flight path. Fido 15! Fido 15! But Fido 15 never responded. It’s been more than five decades since an Air Force bomber on a Cold War training mission crashed in Paradise Valley. People who live there know vaguely that it happened. Oh yeah, they’ll say. That plane crash. When was that again? But one man, Bryan Wells, who lives at the base of the mountain and somehow found the wreakage when he was 15, has more recently made it his life’s mission to make sure the men who died up there are never forgotten.
This story is a collaboration between Last Best Stories podcast and the Bozeman Chronicle. It’s narrated by Michael Wright, a staff writer at the paper, and by Jule Banville, who co-reported it. Find Michael’s written feature and great photos by the BozeChron’s Adrian Sanchez Gonzalez at the bozemandailychronicle.com.
As a bonus, the end of the episode also details what happened after Bryan led us to the plane wreck. For awhile there, we didn’t think we’d make it off the mountain to tell the tale. Spoiler alert: We did.