Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West

Picture Archive 5

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Patric J. Macha with structure from Beechcraft 18/C-45 that crashed in the Verdugo Mountains near Burbank, CA on 3/18/45. Both crewmen were killed in this weather related accident. Matt Maxon found the crash site, one of a number in the Verdugos that he has visited.
(photo by Matt Maxon)

In December 1972 Elgin F. "Butch" Gates located the bailout point and ejection seat from a North American F-100C 54-2078 USAF that had crashed on 3/6/64, twenty three miles WSW of Needles in the Piute Mts. Butch's younger brother Robert stands on the ejection seat.  Following this remarkable find they went on to locate the crash site itself. Scattered wreckage of 54-2078 remains visible to this day.
(photo courtesy E. F. Gates)

Crash site of USN Douglas A-4 Skyhawk in Panamint Valley. Date of loss and accident details are unknown. One source indicates mid-60's another states possibly 1961. Any help with the details appreciated.

About 3% to 5% of this widely scattered wreck remains. This appears to have been a fatal accident based on artifacts observed on my visitation of 10/13/06. Special thanks to Tom Gossett for his help in locating this site.

View of the accident site of Bell/Textron AH-1T USMC that crashed in poor weather on 11/14/86. Sadly both crewmen died in the crash. The impact area is just above the saddle on the south east slope of 3,273' Sitton Peak in the Cleveland National Forest. The Sea Cobra crew almost made it through the saddle. We are very sorry they did not.

USFS Ranger Debra Clarke views the rotor blade from the AH-1T just below the main impact area. Besides the rotor blade only a few small parts remain at this site which is located 4.7 miles from the nearest trail head. My trip was made possible to this wreck site on 11/03/06 by Ranger Clarke and Orange County Park Ranger Tom Maloney.

Pat J. Macha stands with wreckage from Lockheed P-38L #44-24790 USAAF that crashed following a mid-air collision with another P-38L on 2/12/45. Sadly both pilots were killed in this combat training accident.
(photo by G.P. Macha)

On 11/13/46 Western Airlines DC-3 NC-18645 en route from Las Vegas, NV to Burbank, CA crashed into White Mountain killing nine passengers and the crew of three.

The crash site is still visible today SW of Pyramid Lake in the Los Padres National Forest. The wreck was not discovered until 11/15, and the first rescue team did not reach the crash site until 11/18/46. Weather was a factor in this accident.
( Photo Western Airlines via Walt Bohl) (G.P. Macha collection)

In May 2007 Harley Brogdon took a hike into a remote area east of Forest Home and found a landing gear leg and engine cylinder head. What he found is from a Vought F4U-1D BuNo 82818 USN that crashed on 8/10/45 killing Ensign Elbert Wayne Weaver USNR. The wreck was not located until 9/17/45 when two teenage boys took a hike following a flash flood and found aircraft wreckage and human remains. The widely scattered remains of BuNo 82818 remain to this day in the wild and rugged San Bernardino Mountains. (photo by G. Pat Macha)

The rusted and corroded landing gear leg section from Vought F4U-1D BuNo 82818 as seen on 6/26/07. The team that reached this component included Tom Maloney, Pete Armes, Chris LeFave, Pat J. Macha, and G. Pat Macha. (G.P. Macha photo)


Not all searches are successful, but surprises are common, especially in the desert. We did not find the plane, but we did find this practice bomb aft casing and it was not on or near a bombing a range.



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