Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West
G. Pat Macha


Members of the Project Remembrance Team recently documented the crash site of American Air Lines DC-3 NC-21799, lost in bad weather on March 3, 1946. This accident claimed twenty-seven lives. The story of this tragic loss will be included in Historic Aircraft Wrecks of San Diego County, available from the History Press in September 2016. (G.P. Macha photo)

Read book review for new release, Fate On A Folded Wing by Tiffany Ann Brown 

 Team rediscovers how a 1964 Long Beach woman was the first to pilot a solo trip around the equator

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Gertrude "Tommy" Tompkins in her leather flight jacket with Fifinella emblazoned on it.
(Courtesy Whittall-Scherefee Family)

Ongoing Search for
Gertrude Tompkins Silver

Silver update August 26, 2010
Congressional Gold Medal

In mid-May 2015 a Marina Del Rey Sportfishing boat captained by John Petrov raised his anchor with an 18’ to 20’ piece of aircraft wreckage attached. Note the cast metal structure with aluminum skin attached. Captain Petrov did not attempt to bring the wreckage on board, but he did GPS his position.

What had they found? Rick Oefinger of Marina Del Rey Sportfishing contacted wanting to know if we had any data regarding their most interesting find. Gary Fabian found the answer in his UB88.ORG data base. The wreck was most likely from the Douglas DC-8 LN-MOO flown by SAS that crashed into Santa Monica Bay at 7:22 P.M. on January 13, 1969 with forty-five passengers and crew on board. Fifteen lives were lost, but twenty-nine survived, seventeen of these with injuries. The empennage and tail section broke off and sank on impact, but the rest of the DC-8 floated and was salvaged. The cause of the accident was assigned by the NTSB to pilot error. (Photo courtesy Rick Oefinger)

Aircraft Crash Site Pages

Stories with Returned Artifacts

B-24D   4/9/44
B-24L   1/30/45
  10/2/44   PR

Story Archive
UH-1 Huey  

B-17F   5/30/43

B-24E   12/5/43
B-24E   6/21/43   PR
B-24M   5/12/45  
B-36D   8/5/52   PR
B-47B 10/13/55  PR
BT-13   3/7/47  
BT-13B   10/2/44
BT-2B   2/8/31
C119C   1980
C-46A   10/5/45
C-46F   1/13/59 
C47A    3/16/45 
C-47D   12/4/51
C170A   3/2/57
Champion Citabria   7/4/67
Curtiss AT-9A   12/30/42
DC-2   3/1/38
DC-3   10/23/42
DC-3   11/21/50  
DC-3 GS  
2/18/69  PR
F-105D   12/7/67
F-22A    3/29/09  PR
F3D-2   3/9/53 
10/3/56   PR
F-4D    4/20/67
(3) F4F-4   2/13/42
F4U-4   4/23/46   PR
JF-104A   5/1/57
Dakota MK IV  
3/13/45   PR
Lear Jet 24B  
Maule M-4  Unknown
Mooney M20  
 6/18/44 & 9/10/62
SNB-4   1/9/55  PR
T-28A    2/16/55
T-33A    2/10/59   
5/15/55  PR
TBM      6/15/61  
TWA Martin 404  
XRK-1   3/28/38  

Steve Fossett
Monument Sites
A4D-2   7/8/59   PR
A.C. 690A
12/6/42   PR
B-24E   7/5/43   PR
B-24E   3/3/44  
B-24J    5/4/45
B-24J/TF100C 7/2/44 & 4/9/57
B-25D WASP   10/2/44   PR
B-26    12/30/41
B-47E   7/18/57
Beechcraft 50   5/5/79
Beechcraft 95   6/7/64   PR
C-47D   12/1/52
C-130A   6/17/02
C-180   1/31/05
DC-6B   10/1/92
DH-4B   12/7/22
F8F-1   7/17/45  
FG-1   5/4/44    PR
FJ-4   3/27/61   PR
HUP-2   11/7/09
N-3PB   4/21/43
P-38G 6/27/43  PR 
P-40's  10/24/41 
P2V5/C118A   2/1/58
PV-1   2/24/44
SNB-5   11/18/50   PR
TB-26C   4/11/56
X-2   9/27/56
X-15   11/15/67
BLM Aircraft Historical Sites

David Trojan’s Project  Remembrance Stories

Links to 25 PDF stories

Idaho & Nevada Crash Sites
by Marc McDonald

AD-4N  3/8/2011
B-17F   12/2/1942 
B-17F   3/30/43 
B-17F   4/25/43
B-17F   5/5/43
B-24E   9/24/43 
B-24E   3/12/44 
B-24E 10/23/43 
B-24E   12/19/43
Video for the B-24E
B-24D   10/5/1944 
B-24D   5/29/43  
B-24D   6/11/43  PR
B-24J   10/23/43 
Video for the B-24J Idaho  New Video
B-24J   7/31/44 
B-24J   1/18/45 
B-24J   8/19/44  PR
B-24J   1/13/45 PR
B-24J   2/9/45
B-23   1/9/43
B-26   1/14/42 
BT-13A   4/29/47
B-29     6/3/53 
B-47E   8/22/62 
C-46F   1/6/53
C-123B  10/9/58 
C-130E Part One 5/13/95
C-130E Part Two 5/13/95 PR
Electra 10A   12/18/36
FJ-3   5/5/56 
P-39   2/6/43  PR
P-47D   6/22/44  
P-47D   8/1/44
P-47D   8/28/44  
P-47G   9/28/44
PA-22-135  7/2/15  
PA-23-250   3/23/63
PA-23   3/12/71
RF-4C   11/12/70
SR-71A 10/25/67
T-33A     9/6/62
UC-43    4/5/43

Nebraska Wreck Finding
& Memorials
Thanks to Jerry Penry
These Links Take You To The Penry Sites


Recent find in Oregon
Loggers find WWII-era wreckage
62 year old crash

Picture Archive
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How to ID a micro-site
ID a micro-site
Info added   5/15/07

Related Story
World War II Airman Found
Frozen in Glacier

Continuing story 9/28/07

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G. Pat Macha

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Thomas F. Gossett
E. "Butch" Gates


Patricia "Patty" Nannes was only twenty-one years old at the time of the crash. DC-3 Gamblers Special Story


Ensign Glen E. Graber circa 1953 with a North American Aviation SNJ-4 in the background at Pensacola Naval Air Station. (Photo Courtesy Kim Graber)
Glen Graber went on to fly the North American Aviation FJ-3 Fury assigned to VF-142 at NAS Miramar.
On June 8, 1956 Lt. (jg) Glen E. Graber was tragically killed during a simulated combat training mission when his FJ-3 Bu No 139223 crashed in the rugged badlands northeast of March Air Force Base.

On March 17, 2017 the Project Remembrance Team visited the crash site of Lt. (jg) Glen E. Graber to honor his service and sacrifice. The flag of respect was placed among the wreckage of FJ-3 Bu No 139223, and a minute of silence was observed. (Photo by Pat J. Macha)


U.S. Navy Aviation Radioman 3rd Class Raymond L. Shovelton poses with his two sisters just three days before his tragic death on May 30, 1944. ARM3c Shovelton was a crewman aboard a Consolidated PB4Y-1 Bu No 31966 when his aircraft was struck by a Navy FM-2 Bu No 55086. All ten crewmen aboard the PB4Y-1, and the pilot of the FM-2 were killed in the mid-air collision near Mount Palomar, CA. (Photo courtesy Paul Cimbron)

On May 30, 1944 a formation flight of PB4Y-1 patrol bombers was attacked by a flight of Navy
FM-2 fighters engaged in aerial combat tactics training. Lt. (jg) R. E. Hermson misjudged simulated
firing pass when he collided with the PB4Y-1. This accident highlights the training losses within the U.S.A. during WWII that killed thousands of our airmen and women while in the service of our Nation. Wreckage of both the FM-1 and the PB4Y-1 remain to this day in a rugged chaparral environment where Poison Oak thrives near Birch Hill in San Diego County. ( collection)  

Honoring our Veterans of the skies who made the ultimate sacrifice!


"A Veteran is a person who wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America, for an amount of up to, and including his or her life".

Ensign Arthur Samuel Kime pilot of Grumman F4F-4 Bu No 5053 that crashed on 2/13/42 while on a delivery flight to North Island NAS. The wreckage of his aircraft was not discovered until 3/25/57 in the rugged mountains of Eastern San Diego County. (Courtesy Francine Woollums) Learn more in the Story Archive section (3) F4F-4’s 12/13/42 PR

Ensign Julian Locke D’Este Jr. pilot of Grumman F4F-4 Bu No 5046 that crashed on 2/13/42 while on a delivery flight to North Island NAS. The wreckage of his aircraft was discovered on 5/29/52 in the rugged mountains of Eastern San Diego County. (Courtesy Richard Mosehauer) Learn more about this story in the video archive section (3) F4F-4  2/13/42 PR



2nd Lt. Chester L. Harvey was 26 years old at the time of his tragic death on January 29, 1944. He was survived by a young daughter. 2nd Lt. Harvey was one of nine pilot rated passengers on board an army air force Lockheed Ventura, a variant of the B-34 bomber, en route from March Field to Santa Maria AAB in Santa Barbara County, CA. The accident occurred at night, and in cloudy weather. The wreckage was finally discovered in the rugged Santa Ynez Mountains on April 18, 1944. Eleven army air force personnel died in the crash.
(Photo courtesy Dale Harvey)


Airman 1st Class Patrick W. Hughes was twenty-three years old at the time of his tragic death on January 31, 1958. A/1C Hughes was flying in a USAF Douglas TB-26B 41-39310 along with his pilot
1st Lt. Alexander Aros when another TB-26B collided with 41-39310, cutting the tail off resulting in a power dive into the Old Dad Mountains. The crash site is in a remote area of the Mojave Desert. The crew of TB-26B that caused the accident successfully crash landed at George Air Force Base.
A/1st Hughes was married with one child, and his wife Adeline was pregnant with another when the accident occurred. Patrick W. Hughes is well remembered by his loving family. (Photo courtesy of the Sundt/Raven Families)
The tail assembly of the ill-fated USAF Douglas TB-26B 44-39310 in the rugged Old Dad Mountains circa 1990’s. The mistake of another TB-26B pilot resulted in the loss of two lives on January 31, 1958. (Photo courtesy Rick Flarety)


Major William Koch, Jr. was killed in the crash of a Lockheed F-80C 45-8315 on 2/17/56 northeast of Coachella, California. The cause of the accident has not been determined. Major Koch served with distinction in the U.S.A.A.F. during WWII, and continued to serve in the U.S.A.F.,     and the Iowa Air National Guard until his untimely death. He is well remembered by his surviving family members.
(Photo Courtesy Anne Koch Gaer)

Captain William Koch, Jr. with his daughter Jeanne shortly before he was promoted to the rank of major. Jeanne was ten years old at the time of her father's death on 2/17/56.
(Photo courtesy Jeanne Koch Deadman)


On February 28, 1945 U.S.A.A.F B-24J 42-95591 crashed in the rugged mountains southeast of Thermal, California. Nine air crewmen died, and one man who managed to bailout at the last moment sustained critical injuries. The cause of the accident was listed as severe air turbulence, followed by loss of control, and structural failure as the pilots attempted to regain control of the aircraft. This undated photo shows Corporal Frank B. Kerrigan in the front row on the right end. The B-24 in the background is an H model. Corporal Kerrigan was tragically killed on 2/28/45 while on a training mission in Consolidated B-24J 42-95591. (Photo Courtesy Jim Miller)
Corporal Frank B. Kerrigan, served as a gunner aboard the B-24 Liberator bomber and was one of the those who lost his life while in the service of our Nation. This photo was taken circa 1944 or January 1945 shortly before his death in February. (Photo Courtesy Jim Miller)
On 2/12/17 members of the Project Remembrance Team escorted family members of Cpl. Frank B. Kerrigan to the B-24J crash site in the rugged mountains southeast of Indio, CA.


Naval Aviation Cadet Donald F. Bolinski, shown in this 1944 photo, went on to proudly serve his country as a USMC combat fighter pilot in the Pacific Theatre of Operations, flying the Vought F4U Corsair. Following WWII he transitioned to rotary wing aircraft, serving with HMR-163, and flying the Sikorsky HRS-1 in combat during the Korean War. On June 3, 1953 Captain Bolinski was tragically killed returning from a search and rescue mission off the coast of Orange County, California. Captain Bolinski was 35 years of age at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife and four children. (Photo courtesy Karen Lusk


USMC 1st Lt. Wayne Morse was 30 years old at the time of his death on June 3, 1953. He was the copilot of Sikorsky HRS-1 Bu No 127788 assigned to HMR-163 that crashed in El Morro Canyon while returning from a search mission off the coast of Orange County, California. 1st Lt. Morse was survived by his wife and two children. Also killed in this accident was the HRS-1 crew chief Corporal Angel Sanchez, age 21.The crew of the HRS-1 had been responding to a report of an aircraft having crashed into the Pacific Ocean, but this story proved to be unfounded. (Photo Courtesy Deborah Staffen) 


2nd Lt. Samuel P. Hall was twenty-one years old when he volunteered to be a fighter pilot instructor. He was assigned to the 3035th Pursuit Training Squadron Victorville Army Air Base flying the Bell P-39 Airacobra.  On July 29, 1944 2nd Lt. Hall took off from VAAB at 8:31 a.m. in P-39N 42-18540 to practice air combat tactics. At 9:20 a.m. his aircraft was seen to pull up in a steep turn, stall, and enter a spin from which 2nd Lt. Hall did not recover. His aircraft struck the ground and burned about six miles southwest of the airbase. The army air force accident report cited a possible pilot blackout, possibly induced by pilot fatigue. 2nd Lt. Hall did not have dinner the night before the flight, and no breakfast on the morning of the flight as he had suffered from heat fatigue while playing tennis the day before the flight.

In late September 2016, Doug Humes contacted the Project Remembrance Team to see if it might be possible to locate the final resting place of P-39N 42-18540. Mr. Hume hopes to honor the service, and sacrifice of his uncle, 2nd Lt. Samuel P. Hall by visiting the crash site. The first of two planned missions are scheduled for late fall 2016, and winter 2017.
(Photo courtesy Douglas P. Humes, Esq.)

United States Air Force Captain James B. Fowler was twenty-seven years old when he was tragically killed in the crash of McDonnell Douglas F-4E 68-0356 on February 9, 1970. Photo courtesy of his sister, Mrs. Linda (Fowler) Williams.

Project Remembrance



1st Lt. Melvin M. King was killed on July 2, 1957 when the F-100D he was piloting crashed in a remote area of the Mojave Desert. Lt. King was 23 years old at the time of his death. 

(Photo Courtesy Sharon Hockett)

Project Remembrance

On the evening of March 16, 1957 Lockheed F-94C 50-1059 assigned to the 46th Fighter Interceptor Squadron disappeared without a trace.  The F-94C Starfire was piloted by twenty-seven year old 1st. Lt. Henry Charles Nicolay, and radar intercept officer 1st Lt. Harold A. Lewis. The crew of the Starfire was part of a four ship flight en route from Bunker Hill A.F.B., Indiana to Wurtsmith A.F.B. located in Losco County, Michigan. As the flight approached their destination 1st. Lt. Nicolay’s F-94C dropped out formation, and failed to respond to radio messages from the flight leader. Clouds and darkness are thought to be factors in the loss of the F-94C and its crew, who are presumed to have crashed into Lake Huron. 1st Lt. Nicolay was married, with two young sons aged one and half and six months respectively.

Recently, Steven R. Nicolay the youngest son of Lieutenant Henry C. Nicolay, has made an appeal calling for a renewed search effort in the waters northeast of Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport. Advances in side scan technologies, and recent updates to USGS data may help in locating the final resting place of Lockheed F-94C 50-1059 and her crew. Volunteers interested in pursuing this important search mission, honoring the service and sacrifice of two air force officers during the Cold War era, should contact Steven Nicolay via


Video of the Loma Ridge Site Visitation and Memorial Dedication 6/25/15 & 6/27/15

Next of kin gather at Loma Ridge on June 25, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the C-135A crash that claimed seventy-two Marines, and twelve Air Force servicemen.
(Photo Courtesy Fred Fourcher)

Project Remembrance  This the largest Project Remembrance mission yet, thanks to Eagle Scout candidate Jor-17Fdan Fourcher. Families traveled from all over the U.S. to be here today.

Orange County Register article and pictures, June 25th, 2015

Memorial Dedication June 27, 2015
at Great Park Irvine, CA 1:00 PM Open To The Public
Some of the Servicemen who gave their Lives in the C-135A Airplane Crash are below

On June 25, 1965 USAF Boeing C-135A 60-373 departed El Toro Marine Air Base at 1:44 AM with eighty-four men on board. At 1:46 AM the C-135A struck cloud enshrouded Loma Ridge to become the worst aviation accident in the history of Orange County, CA.

Click picture for 2 page .PDF info about Memorial Dedication

During a survey on behalf of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy in May-June 2007 I found the dog tags of USMC Lance Corporal Howard Duane Hall, Jr. The tags were held by the IRC until the fall of 2013 when I was contacted by a representative of the Hall Family. The Irvine Ranch Conservancy promptly returned the dog tags to the family in December, 2013.  (Photos courtesy Stephen A. Hall)

Boy Scout of America Jordan Fourcher became an Eagle Scout on 10/15/15. Jordan, is congratulated by members of the Court of Honor for his outstanding project to honor the service and sacrifice of eighty-four Marines and Air Force servicemen who lost their lives in Orange County on 6/25/65. Jordan’s project was the impetus that brought together surviving next of kin, by honoring and including them in activities that spanned three days, June 25 – 27, 2015. (Photo courtesy the Fourcher Family)

Corporal Theodore E. Stark. (Photo courtesy Elaine Stark) 

Corporal Timothy M. Treweek. (Photo courtesy Natali Matthew Hansen) 

Airman 3rd Class Elwood C. Van Note, Jr.. Photo was taken two days before his death by his sister Rosemary. (Photo courtesy Rosemary Jean Van Note) 

Lance Corporal Robert E. Harvey. (Photo courtesy Alyce Harvey) 

Lance Corporal Douglas D. Everett. (Photo courtesy Nicole & Robin West) 

Lance Corporal Robert E. Harvey. (Photo courtesy Alyce Harvey) 

The grave of Corporal Anthony E. Nelson. (Photo courtesy D. Martin)


Private First Class Lawrence R. Van Ness, USMC, was a native of Rochester, NY,
and was engaged to be married at the time of his death. (Photo courtesy of his niece, Marilyn Shaw)

Proud to be a United States Marine, Lance Corporal Alfred Eugene Peterson looks sharp in his uniform. He was married and a father at the time of his tragic death on June 25, 1965. Lance Corporal Peterson was one of seventy-two Marines, and twelve Air Force men who died in the crash of a C-135A Stratolifter on Loma Ridge near El Toro MCAS in Orange County, California.
(Photo courtesy of Lisa Hollingsworth)

Marine Staff Sergeant Jackson M. Sinyard, Jr. was 33 years of age at the time of his death on June 25, 1965. He was married, and had four sons aged three weeks to six and a half years. (Photo Courtesy Bryan Sinyard)


Air Force officer, 1st Lt. Robert H.K. Shannon was twenty-nine,and married with five children at the time of his death on aboard Boeing C-135A 60-373. (Photo courtesy Barb Shannon)

Cpl. James V. Matruski (Photo courtesy Diane Horton)


Twenty-seven year old 1st Lt. John A. Zielke was 1st Pilot aboard the C-135A on 6/25/65. (Photo via Marc McDonald)

Corporal Jimmie E. Brown was twenty-four at the time of his death. His niece described him as a “True hero, with a great love of his Country”. (Photo courtesy Nancie Sellars)


Brandon Shippy, Eagle Scout candidate presents his completed project on 12/13/14 in Robinson Ranch, an area within the City of Rancho Santa Margarita in Orange County, CA. Brandon’s memorial project honors the memory of four marine airmen lost in two accidents. The first loss occurred on May 5, 1944 killing Captain Calvin K. Vermillion, USMCR. The second loss occurred on February 12, 1987 killing Major William J. Anderson, USMCR, Major Dudley W. Urban, USMCR, and Sergeant Bradley A. Baird, USMCR. Both crash sites are near the memorial marker. (Photo by G. P. Macha)

FG-1 Story  PR
Video: Corsair crash site




Additional Veterans Pictures



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Site Dedication

This site is dedicated to the memory of those men and women who lost their lives in service to our nation,
especially those who remain missing and unaccounted for, in the vastness of the American West and the Pacific Ocean.

Web site by Ron Funk    


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