Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West

Gertrude Tompkins Search Updates

Articles, Videos and Audio

Suburban Journals: "Pokin around, Local diver/paramedic joins search for missing WWII pilot, video: Teams search Santa Monica Bay for remains of N.J. World War II pilot who disappeared 65 years ago
BBC World Service, article & video: Finding missing aircraft
ABC News video: Ocean Search for Missing WWII Pilot video: World War II pilot, last missing WASP
KNBC4 News video: Search for Missing Jet Bay search will try to bring lost WWII pilot home

News 3 Video: Jet Wreckage Discovered 54 Years Later Brings Back Memories for Savannah Man
EAA article & audio: Search for Last Missing Wasp Aircraft Resumes
CNN: Fighter jet missing 5 decades found off California coast
Scuba Diving Mag: Search Underway for Missing Heroine of World War II and her P-51 Mustang
 Press Release: The Gertrude Tompkins Expedition
Aero-News.Net: Search For WASP Pilot Resumes

ABC 7 Video: "Remembering female WWII pilots" November 11, 08 "Honors set for WWII-era pilot" November 10, 08

The Argonaut: "Her eyes were on the stars" November 10, 08

Searching for WWII pilot Gertrude 'Tommy' Tompkins in Santa Monica Bay


G. Pat Macha Updates


August 26, 2010

Elizabeth Tompkins Whittall, sister of Gertrude Tompkins Silver, died August 21, 2010 age 101. She is survived by a son, daughter, five grandchildren, and thirteen great grandchildren. Elizabeth lived to see her beloved sister and all WASP pilots honored by the Congressional Gold Medal issued on March 10, 2010. Elizabeth is the grandmother of Laura Whittall-Scherfee, who is most responsible for the on-going search for Gertrude’s missing P-51D crash site.

We offer our sincere condolences to Elizabeth Whittall’s entire family, and we salute the memory of this remarkable woman.

G. Pat & Mary Jane Macha

August 8, 2010

Announcements will be made as developments warrant.

Nov. 19, 2009

With the Thanksgiving Holiday fast approaching the search for Gertrude Tompkins Silver has taken a brief but much needed break. Planning continues for the next search phase that will renew in 2010 thanks to the continued efforts of devoted volunteers, and some much needed help from government agencies. We are very grateful for the many individuals who gave of their time, resources, and energy during the extensive search in first week of October, 2009.

Kudos to Gary Fabian for identifying and sharing more than seventy targets in Santa Monica Bay, and to the UB88.Org team of divers and boat captains who participated in the search effort since April of 2009. Kudos to Chris Killian for helping to organize and fund the October ’09 search that included members of the Missing Aircraft Search Team, The Explorers Club, and  to the divers who traveled from across the nation to make this an effective and productive team effort. Thanks also to the tireless efforts of Gene and Sandy Ralston whose side scan expertise was pivotal to this mission 

Thanks to the King Harbor Yacht Club and the Pacific Mariners Yacht Club, whose members provided boats, skippers, and safe harbors for all team members at day’s end. Our appreciation also goes to the Tuna Club of Long Beach, the USCG, the Los Angeles County Lifeguards, and the Western Museum of Flight. We were honored to have Ken, Laura, and Guy Whittall-Scherfee participate in the search representing the Gertrude Tompkins family along with members of the news media, and film makers Dan Crowell, Jarel and Betty Wheaton, media boat skipper Bob Wyler and a host of others who welcomed, encouraged, and supported the 2009 search team efforts.

Sept. 6, 2009

On Sunday, October 4, 2009 from 1:00PM to 3:00PM members of the dive team and representatives of the news media will visit the Western Museum of Flight located on historic Zamperini Field/Torrance Airport to examine first hand an operational North American Aviation P-51D Mustang fighter plane. Noted P-51D pilot Mr. Bruce Guberman will be available to answer questions regarding the P-51’s history, flight characteristics, power plant and structure.

Click on link for map and directions to Western Museum of Flight


Sept. 1, 2009

For immediate release: SEARCH FOR WASP PILOT RESUMES

Bay Search: Monday Oct. 5th through Saturday Oct. 10th

Locating the only missing WWII Women’s Air Force Service Pilot Gertrude V. “Tommy” Tompkins Silver and her North American Aviation P-51D “Mustang” fighter plane will be the focal point of this greatly expanded all volunteer search effort. 

WASP Tompkins Silver disappeared October 26, 1944 without a trace, after taking off to deliver the factory fresh P-51D destined for Newark New Jersey, from what is now LAX.

In May of 2009 the team, under the direction of Gary Fabian, resumed the Santa Monica Bay search effort.

This search will be augmented by an expedition of highly qualified divers, boat captains and their crews, aircraft and marine archaeologists, multibeam and side scan technicians, members of The Explorers Club, and the Missing Aircraft Search Team (MAST).

Search team progress and updates will be posted as developments warrant. 

G. Pat Macha: Media Relations / Project Facilitator


Cell (714) 345-9210



Press Conference: Sunday Oct. 4th
Western Museum of Flight
Torrance Airport / 3315 Airport Dr. Red Baron #3
1:00 – 3:00 PM

On display: P-51D Mustang “Man O’ War”

June 9, 2009

In late May 2009, thanks to Gary Fabian, Captain Ray Arntz his Sundiver Crew, including master divers John Walker and Kendall Raine the search effort for Gertrude’s P-51D has renewed on Santa Monica Bay. Updates will be posted as developments warrant.

November 12, 2008

Mrs. Gertrude Tompkins Silver and the WASP Veterans Day Ceremony and Dedication

Related news video and articles

ABC 7 Video: "Remembering female WWII pilots" November 11, 08 "Honors set for WWII-era pilot" November 10, 08

The Argonaut: "Her eyes were on the stars" November 10, 08

March 13, 2008

On Tuesday November 11, 2008 a luncheon will be held at the Proud Bird Restaurant near LAX to honor Gertrude “Tommy” Tompkins Silver, and to dedicate a memorial bronze plaque in her memory. The ultimate sacrifice of all thirty-eight WASP pilots who lost their lives during WWII will be recalled, and a tribute will be made for all our service men and women who remain missing and unaccounted for at home and aboard.

More details will be posted soon regarding this important gathering.

November 23, 2007

Thanks again to the expert data analysis, target identification, and mapping done by Gary Fabian our search for the North American Aviation P-51D Mustang flown by Gertrude Tompkins Silver continues on Santa Monica Bay. Gary’s efforts are aided by a very dedicated diver who has spent countless undersea hours checking each and every anomaly that has been identified so far.

September 22, 2007

Thanks to the continued research efforts of Gary Fabian and the marvels of new technology we will have some new targets to examine in our prime search area.

Thanks again to Gary Fabian for his outstanding efforts. Update will be posted as developments warrant.

August 21, 2007

There have been no additional search missions on Santa Monica Bay since the early winter months of 2007. I do not know when we will be able to resume our efforts as our all volunteer team has been booked solid with scheduled paying work. We are not finished that’s for sure, but we are delayed. GPM 8/21/07

February 14, 2007

Search efforts will resume on Santa Monica Bay in March 2007 thanks to the continued efforts of our all volunteer crew.

In Remembrance
Jon B. Jolly
6/2/24 - 8/24/06

Man of the sea extraordinaire at Dockweller Beach prior to the start of sub-bottom profiling (search for Gertrude Tompkins Silver) in October of 2002. (far left)

October 2006

Photo taken by Frank Jacobs in October '06 of Santa Monica Bay looking NW from the Palos Verdes Peninsula reminds us how substantial our search area is.

Search efforts on the bay have slowed as the winter season approaches. Updates will continue as developments warrant.

September 6, 2006

Gary Fabian and his team have completed a very thorough scan of the seabed west of LAX this summer covering 43 scan lines, each line is one nautical mile in length. The next search phase will continue this September and October thanks to Gary and his friends.

Jon B. Jolly
10/2/24 - 8/24/06

We are saddened to learn of the death of a good friend. Jon B. Jolly will be well remembered for his efforts to help in searching  for Gertrude Tompkins Silver. He made two trips from his home in Seattle to work with us. He was a man of the sea, adventurer, innovator, and unforgettable character. He will be missed by all who knew him.

July 22, 2006

Sonar scanning continues in Santa Monica Bay through July and August. The expanded search area is being scrutinized very carefully thanks to the continued efforts of Gary Fabian and Ray Arntz. Eric Rosado's dive team remains available on an as needed basis.

June 12, 2006

Dive Report by Eric Rosado:
-Date:  6.12.06
-Divers:  Eric Rosado and Jose Perez
-Boat Operator:  Tyler Fenton 
-Tenders:  Rod Rimmer and Johnny Bravo (new boat owner of the Ranger)
-Weather:  Overcast, light drizzle in the morning 2-3' swells starting around
-Depth of dive 27'
-L.A. life Guards were called before and after operation.
-Visibility:  5' max, 0' while probing
-Equipment used:  Dive boat the Ranger, Superlite 17b deep sea diving helmet, Scuba gear, Metal Detector, Standard dive spread compressor/ dive hose dive radio.
-Description of dives to search 2 possible targets. a 50' circle search was done at each site. Diver number one was probing the sand/mud , while diver number two was sweeping the sand/mud with the metal detector. Clay and rocks were found at each  site keeping the probe from going any deeper than 4 1/2' .  Site number 1 is were we found the fiberglass panel.


Follow up by Pat Macha:
Kudos to Eric Rosado and his team for their fine efforts to search the coordinates as generated by Jon Jolly in 2002.
With this difficult task essentially complete we will now concentrate our search resources in the area that Gary Fabian and Ray Arntz have been scanning.
Search efforts will resume in July, 2006.

May 2 - 9, 2006

Gary Fabian and Ray Arntz returned to Santa Monica Bay in the first two weeks of May. Several targets of interest were identified. Ray Arntz made the necessary dives to check them out. These targets turned out to be sections of pipe and a small sailboat wreck. Additional scans will be made in the expanded search area soon.

Click for larger view

       Ray Arntz                   Side scan sonar image

April 20, 2006

Side scan sonar search efforts resumed on 4/20/06. A 3,200' x 220' section was covered without result. More updates to follow.

January 25, 2006

On January 25, 2006 Gary Fabian and Ray Arntz began a side scan sonar search on Santa Monica Bay in the area indicated by eyewitness Frank Jacobs. This revised target area is farther off shore than the targets detected by Jon Jolly. Closer examination of the inshore targets will hopefully be accomplished this Spring. Gary Fabian has earned considerable acclaim for his discovery of the WWI German submarine the UB-88. We are very grateful for the assistance that Gary and Ray are bringing to this search effort.


Click for larger view

This is the image of the wreck of the Palawan that Gary and Ray imaged using side scan sonar in Santa Monica Bay on 1/25/06. This image provides everyone with a good idea of what side scan sonar technology can do.

Visit their web site at:

October 18, 2005

The JPAC Central Identification Laboratory at Hickham AFB in Hawaii has been asked to review the Gertrude Tompkins Silver disappearance. We are hopeful that JPAC may be able to bring resources and expertise to this search effort that will resolve this case.

The crew of the workboat Ranger still hopes to check two other targets of interest. Use of advanced magnetic detection is considered key to all future search efforts.

September 1, 2005

 One dive in 110 feet of water was completed on 9/10/05 by Tyler Fenton, skipper of the workboat Ranger. He was unable to locate a previously mapped anomaly. Visibility was good at about 40 feet.

 Operations scheduled for Sunday September 11, were cancelled late Saturday afternoon due to operational problems.

  Renewed search efforts will resume in the near future.


October 26, 2004 marks the 60th anniversary of the disappearance of Gertrude "Tommy" Tompkins Silver.

Thanks to offers of assistance from commercial deep sea diver Eric Rosado and his businessman brother Lewray we are studying the possibility of renewing search efforts in Santa Monica Bay for the P-51D flown by Gertrude Tompkins Silver.

On Monday February 7, 2005 the Western Museum of Flight will host the crew of workboat, Ranger, and members of the news media as they prepare for renewed search efforts on Santa Monica Bay.


Click on thumbnail to see large view!

Karl Lutz, Jose Perez, Pat Macha, Eric Rosado, and Lewray Rosado

Dana Muelot shows Eric Rosado the cockpit of Man O' War.
Eric Rosado displays the dive equipment for the next search mission.


The new search boat "Ranger"

The new crew:

  • Tyler Fenton - Commercial diver / Licensed boat captain
  • Eric Rosado - Commercial diver/ former marine/under water welder / underwater inspection diver
  • Karl Lutz - Commercial diver / Bachelors in film and video production / underwater inspection diver
  • Charles Porter - Former marine / commercial diver / under water welder / former reserve orange county fire fighter / former L.A county E.M.T / currently enlisted in the U.S army reserve
  • Jose Perez - Former marine / commercial diver /decompression chamber operator

North American P-51D #44-72739 AAF "Man O' War" on loan to the Western Museum of Flight at Jack Northrop Field Hawthorne, Ca. The crew of workboat, Ranger, will study this aircraft to familiarize themselves with the structure of the Mustang that they will be searching for in Santa Monica Bay.


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The sub bottom profiler aboard Gary Jackson's P Salty in Marina Del Rey Oct.2002.

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Jon B. Jolly and Chris Glimberg working with the profiler during the Oct.2002 search effort.

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The P Salty just off Imperial Hwy. Oct.2002.


Remembering that our effort of 1999. Hats were provided to team members by Mr.& Mrs. Ken Whittall-Scherefee.


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