National Geographic : 1924 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Official Photograph, U. S. Army Air Service LOOKING DOWN ON DEATH VALLEY FROM A HEIGHT OF 12,000 FEET "Even at the high elevation at which we were flying, at intervals we could feel waves of heat from the valley. For total desolation there is nothing that approaches this basin and its .surroundings. On each side are black, sun-baked mountains that rank probably among the most dismal, and in summer time the hottest, places on earth."-Stevcns and Macready. and could judge our direction and drift from them. Kelly now took the controls and flew the plane to Santa Rosa, New Mexico. I cannot tell his experiences while he was flying. I know that he took the plane when our exact location was somewhat of a conjecture, although supposedly on the course, and brought it out in the morning exactly where we wished to be. I remember the immense fields and plains of Kansas passing underneath in the ghostly moonlight, with occasionally the twinkle of lights of towns and settle ments in the distance, like little groups of stars, the meteors and shooting stars oc casionally speeding across the great dome of the heavens, and then the ghostly pal lor just preceding the dawn. The break of day looked good to us. One imagines the dawn is coming long before it really appears. The eyes are strained to see a brightening of the sky in the east, and hope distorts the true appearance of the horizon. The fields of Kansas merged into the grotesque buttes, little flat-topped pla teaus, and eroded topography of New Mexico, with its pastel shades intensified in the eerie light of early dawn. There is a period just before sunrise when the earth is in shadow, while the sky is light. I was looking below, try ing to distinguish details of the natural features on the ground, indistinct in the pinkish pallor which seemed to cover it as a sort of pall. Without especial inter est, I noted square little cubes of earth which seemed to be arranged regularly by nature and I wondered what process of erosion could have caused this peculiar arrangement, when, with somewhat of a shock, I recognized these little squares of earth as the adobe huts of Indians.