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The strange, mysterious fate of the ship from 'Planet Of The Apes'

The iconic spacecraft has a fascinating history, from Lake Powell to Malibu to…?

Sleek and pointed as an arrowhead, the fictional American National Space Administration spacecraft from Planet of the Apes was seen in several feature films, beginning with the 1968 classic. The iconic, dart-like ship also popped up — or, well, crashed down — in the opening of the 1974 spin-off television series, Planet of the Apes. The fate of the full-size mock-up of the ANSA ship has become the subject of fan speculation ever since.

We do know where the escape hatch of the ship from the first film is. It lies somewhere on the bottom of Lake Powell, where it was blasted off the hull. You might recall star Charlton Heston crawling out of the thing in the film. Fans now fantasize about a scuba mission to find this artifact for their collection. Bear in mind, however, the crash scenes were filmed in waters about 300-feet deep.

Made from steel, the prop ship was meant to last. The ANSA ship's only brush with destruction came when the film crew took it out to the beach, to film it washing up on shore for Escape from the Planet of the Apes.

The tow lines broke and the thing went straight into the rocks, which meant a hasty repair to the nose cone, which is visible from that point forward in later screen appearances, as it changed color. Up above, that's how it looked in "Escape from Tomorrow," the first episode of the TV series.

The typical fate for oversized movie mock-ups is to end up as landfill or rotting away in some junkyard. 20th Century Fox, on the other hand, was fond of recycling. Ironically, the landing gear from Lost in Space's Jupiter Two ended up as crash debris around the ANSA ship in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

Other props have turned up in some amazing locations after their original use. Take the bathysphere from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, for example. That ended up atop a scuba supply company in California.

The Apes ship, however, remains a true mystery. It was transported from the Fox studio lot to the Fox Ranch (now known as Malibu Creek Park) for the television series, and left there until the land was sold to the parks department in the 1970s.

Then, it was loaded on a flatbed truck and sold to a collector — or so the old crew members with knowledge of such things have said. There are rumors it ended up somewhere in Nevada, above a car dealership. Yet another legend says it turned up on a private ranch, used by the owner's children as a space-age playhouse. It is also quite possible that the steel contraption simply rusted away or was sold for scrap.

Either way, like the ANSA astronauts, it is lost and yet to be found. 

You can catch Planet of the Apes, Lost in Space and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as part of MeTV's Red Eye Sci-Fi block, Saturdays beginning at 1AM | 12C.

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