I wrote this article when I arrived home on the evening of Thursday, 21 Oct 1999, after I was a witness to the loading and removal of the wreckage of UA Flt 585 that afternoon. I stood in silence as the task was accomplished, only speaking to ask questions in order to clarify some points I was not sure of. The names of those I spoke with, the name of the salvage company and the location of the warehouse I left out of the article and they will remain undisclosed by me. I have provided this article to a local Colo Springs newspaper who may publish it if desired, as I seek no money or attention for it. I only wanted to share it because of the sadness I felt as I watched and remembered the past events.
Thursday, 21 October, 1999
Written by: M.A. Coletta
Dust filled the air as again the sound of metal on metal was heard.
This morning just after first light the large trucks entered the parking lot of the yellow warehouse carrying the tools that were to help accomplish a final journey. A journey that would put to rest what became the massive destruction on the morning of March 3, 1991.
On that morning, Captain Harold Green and First Officer Patricia Eidson were bringing N999UA down for what they thought was to be a routine landing in Colorado Springs. At approx. 1,000 feet, the jet suddenly flipped to the right and dived straight down, smashing into a city park and killing all 25 on board Flt 585.
This yellow warehouse, which I now stood before, had for years been the temporary storage of what remained of the plane. Its location in Colorado Springs not known to many for obvious reasons. Only the debris that was sent to San Francisco for testing was missing from the piles of twisted wreckage inside the storage facility. Eight and one half years of dust settled on each part, dust that has been undisturbed since investigators last moved any piece.
This is the warehouse, in Colorado Springs, where Flt585 was stored for so many years.
Now the masked and gloved workmen again sent the dust moving through the air as the tools of their trade moved the piles to the waiting containers on the trucks. Dirt and clay from the park still filled cracks and crevasses of the two engines which still showed signs of a violent end. Turbine fins missing and bent, gear wheels cracked and broken. The once hard metal now looked as if it were a piece of silly putty stretched and out of place. I moved closer to the masses and now saw wires and fuel lines bent, broken and cracked. I can only imagine the force that caused this destruction. A great sadness filled my heart as I ran my hand over a smooth part of the casing.
I walked back to where the loading was still going on. With each scoop of the front loader the sound of metal and smell of dust filled the air. Pieces hanging loosely and swinging from the bucket. The crash of metal on metal again as the wreckage was dumped into the containers. Some pieces the size of a scrap of paper, such as a broken rivet or melted piece of glass, while others almost too large for the loaders bucket.
The largest piece I saw was from what looked to be the main cabin area. It was a section of side fuselage, about 12 foot in length but folded in two with half of it stripped below the window line. Of the half that did contain windows, four total, only one had its glass still intact. The distinct United Airlines paintjob, of that era, was still easy to see and recognize on the outer portion. Yellow insulation and charred wall carpet, which once held an artful pattern, fell from areas that were exposed as it was raised to clear the containers lip and had to be picked up by hand. The second largest piece, aside from the engines, was a section of wing, but stripped of any aerodynamic structure.
Five large containers in all were used this day to hold and haul the cargo. A salvage company from Greeley, CO. now has the task to transport and shred the wreckage and then bring it to a smelter in Pueblo where it will take its final form.
A form that will not resemble the form that flew in the air on the morning of March 3, 1991. A form that will not resemble the form I was gazing at with tears in my eyes, a form that does not resemble the form that flew in the air on that day. My heart is filled with pain for those now lost.
Widefield Park was the scene of the crash. This is what the area looks like now.
A memorial grove and sitting shelter were erected on the site after the tragedy. This is the scene as you approach the memorial. Two engravings with a message and the victims names are shown below.
Copyright 1999, Mike Coletta