What Happened When Yosemite Hikers Discovered a Crashed Plane Filled with Smuggled Marijuana?

High road … low road.

In December 1976, a pilot and Vietnam vet named Jon Gilsky took off in a small passenger plane from Las Vegas with his colleague Jeff Nelson. According to Men’s Journal, “They were in a twin-engine beast called a Howard 500. The Howard carried 1,500 gallons of aviation fuel for long hauls at high speed. After wheels-up, Glisky turned south, toward Mexico. He crossed the border and flew into Baja California, where he landed on a marginal airstrip. Later that night, under cover of darkness, a crew loaded his plane with 6,000 pounds of Mexican red-hair marijuana. The pot was a strain of potent sinsemilla cultivated by an American syndicate known as Mota Magic. The Washington-based crew Glisky flew for bought the premium weed in tightly packed 40-pound burlap bales. Some of the bales were marked frijol, the Spanish word for ‘bean.’”

Leaving Mexico before dawn, the plane headed north up the coast of California and suddenly veered east toward the Sierra Nevada mountains and dropped off radar. The plane would never make it to its destination. But its precious cargo, frozen deep in Yosemite, would initiate a treacherous recovery effort and unexpected renegade drug grab.

This fascinating piece of Yosemite history can be read in full here.

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