Google Earth launched in 2005, and it's been a great tool for being able to see a bird's eye view of nearly anywhere on the planet. But if you type in a specific coordinate, 16°51′53.748″N 11°57′13.362″E, and zoom in all the way, you'll notice something very strange. At first, it looks like a watermark or logo on the screen. As you look closer, it's not on the screen, but on the earth image itself.
Here is the true and inspiring story of this strange drawing, only visible from the sky.
The year was 1989. UTA Flight 772 was scheduled, operating from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo to Paris CDG Airport in France.
The flight never made it. The plane exploded and crashed into the Saharan desert. There were no survivors.
Eighteen years after the crash of Flight 772, the families of the victims gathered at the crash site.
This area of the desert is one of the most remote places in the world. Pieces of the wreckage were still strewn around the crash site.
Les Famillies de l'Attentat du DC-10 d'UTA, an association of victims' familes, was gathering to build a memorial.
They built it almost entirely by hand, placing dark stones in a 200-foot diameter circle.
Because of the vastness of the Tenere region of the desert, the stones had to be trucked in to the site from 43 miles away.
It took two months, May and June of 2007, to build the memorial.
170 broken mirrors, one for each victim, were placed around the circumference of the circle.
The site is anchored by the wing of the aircraft.
Workers had to dig it up and empty it of sand, but it was still intact.
They affixed a memorial plaque to the wing with the names of those who perished.
The memorial was partly funded by the Libyan government's $170 million compensation package.
The memorial is impressive at ground level, but it is really meant to be viewed from the heavens.
You can see it on Google Earth and Google Maps here.
Ultimately, six Libyans were convicted of terrorism, having used a suitcase bomb to take down Flight 772. 155 passengers and 15 crew members lost their lives. The memorial and the tribute to their lost families is absolutely beautiful.