A friend told me to go to a certain latitude and longitude on Google Maps. When I noticed it seemed to be in the middle of an African desert, I thought he was just sending nonsense. But when I zoomed in, my mind was blown. I noticed a tiny icon that looked like an airplane.
So I did some more research and discovered there’s an incredibly tragic and beautiful story behind it. Here it is, from start to finish.
UTA Flight 772 was a scheduled flight operating from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo to Paris CDG airport in France.
This is the flight path. UTA Flight 772 was a scheduled flight operating from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo to Paris CDG airport in France. The flight never made it. All on board perished.
Eighteen years later, families of the victims gathered at the crash site to build a memorial.
Due to the remoteness of the location, pieces of the wreckage could still be found at the site.
The memorial was created by Les Familles de l’Attentat du DC-10 d’UTA, an association of the victims’ families along with the help of local inhabitants.
The memorial was built mostly by hand and uses dark stones to create a 200-foot diameter circle.
The Tenere region is one of the most inaccessible places on the planet. The stones were trucked to the site from over 70 kilometers away.
The memorial was built over the course of two months in May and June of 2007
170 broken mirrors, representing each victim, were placed around the circumference of the memorial.
The memorial is anchored by the starboard wing of the aircraft which was trucked to the site from 10 miles away. Workers had to dig up the wing and empty it of sand.
The memorial was partly funded by the $170 million compensation package provided by the Libyan government.
The completed memorial.
The memorial can be seen from Google Earth and Google Maps
Six Libyans were ultimately convicted of this terrorist attack. They used a suitcase bomb to blow up the plane, which resulted in 155 passengers and 15 crew members meeting their demise.
Even in the face of this tragedy, the families constructed this beautiful memorial to never forget what happened. They will live on in their hearts, in the desert, and even on Google Earth forever.