Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West

Champion Citabria


A routine gas pipeline patrol flight ended in tragedy on July 7, 1968 when a Champion Citabria N8340V crashed and burned in a remote area of the Mojave Desert. The pilot, had been an air force flight instructor, and was a commercial pilot at the time of the accident.  He had taken his fourteen year old son, along for a day long round trip flight that departed Bakersfield, en route to Needles, California. As the Citabria approached the tiny hamlet of Bagdad (non-existent today) the aircraft apparently stalled and spun into the desert killing both father and son instantly. The pilot had logged 1,250 hours in the Citabria while flying pipeline patrol missions, and the NTSB report listed the probable cause as undetermined. Weather was not listed as a factor based on prevailing conditions at the time. Smoke from the post impact fire was seen and reported by drivers on Highway 66 who notified authorities from a gas station in Amboy.

On February 12, 2015 Tom Maloney and I found the crash site of N8340V. We stood silent for several minutes at a place where two lives had been lost so long ago.

In memory of Harold Bassett and Eldon Bassett.

Special thanks to Elgin F. Gates (R.I.P.)

All photos by G. Pat Macha

The remains of Champion 7GCAA Citabria N8340V.

The port wing and one unburned fuel tank with horizontal stabilizer silhouetting the rugged Bristol Mountains of San Bernardino County in the background.

Retired Orange County Park Ranger Tom Maloney photo documents the wreckage N8340V on a windless winter day in 2015.

Remnants of the trim tab on the port elevator of N8340V.


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