Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West

Books by
Pat Macha


Book Review by Nick Veronico

Historic Aircraft Wrecks of San Diego County

In a typical year, San Diego County has more than 265 days of sunny flying weather. There has always been a great deal of military flying in the area, and the wartime production and later experimental aircraft operating from the Convair plant at Lindbergh Field through the late 1940s to the mid-1960s contributes to the interest in the area’s aviation history.  

Southern California native, aviation archaeologist, and author G. Pat Macha has been exploring and documenting historic aircraft wrecks for more than 50 years. Having written a half dozen books on crashes and crash sites, Macha’s latest work, Historic Aircraft Wrecks of San Diego County (The History Press, 978-1-46711-836-1, $21.99) details wrecks in the area from the beginning of the aviation age to the new millennium. His knowledge of where these aircraft came to rest has also enabled him and to take numerous relatives to the final resting places of these aircraft bringing closure to many family members. Macha brings out the human side of each accident, whether the occupants survived or met a tragic end, showing the depth of his research, and this attention to detail makes for an interesting read. 

Historic Aircraft Wrecks of San Diego County is broken up into sections describing aircraft wrecks up to World War II, the war years, those that occurred in the tremendous growth years after the war, and concludes with an interesting chapter detailing a number of crash sites off the San Diego coast. Many of the wreck types described in the book are extremely rare, including a Douglas TBD-1 Devistator and a Vought O2U-3 Corsair. Commercial wrecks detailed include American Airlines’ DC-3 NC21799 Flagship Baltimore, and the Sept. 25, 1978, mid-air of a C-172 and a PSA Boeing 727. Off-shore wrecks run the gamut from the usual fare of Navy aircraft and detail other interesting types that went down into the sea off San Diego including a 10-engine B-36D Peacemaker. There are dozens more historical aircraft profiles in this highly informative book. It is a great companion to Historic Aircraft Wrecks of San Bernardino County and Historic Aircraft Wrecks of Los Angeles County.



Pat Macha's New Book
Available at Barnes & Noble, Planes of Fame Museum Shop, and other booksellers.

Air Classics Magazine, March 2015 issue has book review on page 64 for Historic Aircraft Wrecks of Los Angeles County

Three Idiosyncratic Little Books About the L.A. Area
With Review of "Aircraft Wrecks of Los Angeles County" Book
Los Angeles Times
Jacket Copy

Peninsula Senior Productions Video: Pat Macha Speaking w/accompanying Power Point Presentation
 of "Historic Aircraft Wrecks of LA County"



Published 2013
Available at Barnes & Noble, Planes of Fame Museum Shop, and Mountain History Museum, Lake Arrowhead, CA

Historic Aircraft Wrecks of San Bernardino County
Pat Macha. The History Press,
September 2013. ISBN: 1626190127, paperback, 6”x 9,”
128 pages, 75+ images and illustrations, index, bibliography, glossary. $19.95

This is the latest book in the excellent aircraft archaeology series by author Pat Macha.  In it he tells the stories of over 425 aircraft wrecks that have occurred in California’s San Bernardino County (east of Los Angeles). This area is the largest county in the lower 48 states, and stretches from barren deserts to towering mountain peaks. It is also the home of many past and present military bases and test ranges. Because of these factors, this area has been a fertile ground for aircraft accidents, and this book tells the story of many of them.

The book begins with coverage of the early days of flight  in the county, both civil and military, up through WWII and the beginning of flight operations with jet aircraft. Many different types of aircraft were involved. These ranged from small single-engine private planes and military trainers to multiengine bombers and transport aircraft. Some examples were the Consolidated B-24 and the Douglas C-47. Experimental flight operations operating out of Edwards AFB have also added to many wreck sites in the county. One of the most famous of these accidents was caused by the mid-air collision of a USAF XB-70A Valkarie supersonic bomber and a Lockheed F-104 chase plane while on a photographic mission over the county. This crash and other well-known accidents are also well documented and described. The final section covers missing aircraft. These were aircraft that have disappeared while flying in the county area. Some of these aircraft have been located, while many have not been seen again.

 The book is very well written and the author’s style leads the reader from one story to the next in a seamless manner that makes for an enjoyable and informative read. Due to the extensive amount of data and the author’s interesting presentation, the book will appeal to the history buff as well as the person reading for entertainment. The book is highly recommended for these audiences.

Paul Butler                                                      AAHS FLIGHTLINE #188, 3rd Quarter 2014


Published 2002

This book is no longer available

Published 1997

This book is no longer available

Published 1991

This book is no longer available


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