After any fatal plane crash, recovering the "black box" is a high priority for investigators. Although these flight recorders are typically bright orange (for visibility) instead of black, the information they contain is crucial. They can answer many questions about how and why the plane crash occurred.
Earlier this year, two American men made it their mission to find the black box from a plane that was never recovered after it crashed in 1985. Recently, the men found the wreckage of the crash and recovered the black box, 31 years after the fact.
The plane in question was Eastern Airlines Flight 980, which had crashed into Mount Illimani in Bolivia. Because the crash occurred at about 20,000 feet and the surrounding terrain was practically inaccessible, the wreckage and human remains had never been found and recovered.
The two men traveled to Bolivia, climbed the mountain and ultimately found the wreckage about 1,000 feet below what was believed to be the crash site. The men said they gave "proper burial" to the human remains found. They also found most of the flight recorder, which they took back to the United States.
They would later discover that their actions had violated international law. But after contacting the Bolivian government, they received permission to let (America's) National Transportation Safety Board study the black box.
Although it is unclear what information may be learned from studying the wreckage and the flight recorder, the find does seem to have brought closure to the families of crash victims.
These days, it is difficult to fathom how anything as large as an airplane could get lost for so long. But unfortunately, that is sometimes the reality of the situation. We can only hope that there will continue to be brave adventurers (like these two men) willing to keep looking for answers until they are found.