By Alison Fox
June 22, 2020
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The stranded bus in the Alaskan wilderness that became known for its appearance in the book-inspired movie, "Into the Wild" has been airlifted out and moved for the first time in decades.

The 1940s-era vehicle, which became known as the "Into the Wild" bus and was abandoned on the Stampede Trail, was airlifted by an Alaska Army National Guard helicopter last week. The decision to move the iconic bus has come after many years of rescuing explorers determined to find it despite the dangers of the journey, according to the Alaska National Guard.

Also known as "Bus 142," or the "Magic Bus," the bus sat about 25 miles west of the Parks Highway near Healy and was made famous by the 1996 book "Into the Wild," by John Krakauer, as well as Sean Penn’s 2007 movie adaptation that came after. The story follows the journey of 24-year-old adventurer Chris McCandless, who spent an Alaskan summer in 1992 in the bus but died after more than 100 days.

"We encourage people to enjoy Alaska's wild areas safely, and we understand the hold this bus has had on the popular imagination," Corri A. Feige, the commissioner for the Department of Natural Resources, said in a statement. "However, this is an abandoned and deteriorating vehicle that was requiring dangerous and costly rescue efforts, but more importantly, was costing some visitors their lives. I'm glad we found a safe, respectful and economical solution to this situation."

The bus drew many curious travelers, several of which had to be rescued due to harsh conditions and river crossings. Between 2009 and 2017, the state had to undertake 15 bus-related search-and-rescue operations, the National Guard noted.

Additionally, in February, Alaska State Troopers rescued five Italian hikers, including one who suffered frostbite. And in both 2010 and 2019, travelers from Switzerland and Belarus drowned in incidents related to finding the bus.

"The department initially reached out to us with the goal of reducing the number of search-and-rescue cases that resulted from folks trying to reach the bus who may not necessarily be fully prepared for the trip," Maj. Zachary Miller, an executive officer with 1-207th AVN and the primary pilot for the extraction, said in a statement. "Certainly, Alaska's landscape can be treacherous in many areas of the state, but the bus's proximity to these rivers is what makes it particularly dangerous."

In order to airlift the bus, which doesn’t yet have a permanent placement, the national guard said a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter had to clear vegetation and obstacles. They then cut holes in the roof and floor of the bus. As part of the mission, the National Guard also safely transported a suitcase they said has sentimental value to the McCandless family.

While going on a hike to find the famed bus is no longer possible, Alaska still has plenty of adventure to offer -- and travelers don’t even have to leave home to experience it. Take a virtual vacation by livestreaming the state’s wildlife, including Pacific walruses and brown bears