Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West

F9F-5 Bu No 125539


In the early 1970's I made my first of four attempts to locate a Grumman F9F-5 Bu No 125539 USN that crashed SW of Wrightwood in the San Gabriel Mountains. The F9F-5 in question had crashed on 2/2/57 killing the pilot as he and his flight leader were buzzing snow covered Blue Ridge and the town of Wrightwood. In July of 2001, thanks to information provided by a local resident and the assistance of a USFS ranger, I was finally able to locate the crash site of Bu No 125539.

Accompanied by my son and an old friend we hiked in the bottom of Prairie Fork Canyon to the Los Angeles and San Bernardino County Line as had been described to us we found all that remained of Bu No 125539. An extensive clean-up effort by the Navy in the early summer of 1957 left only about 1% of the aircraft remaining for us to see. Nonetheless, we were glad to document the site and bring this search to a close.

Click on thumbnail to see large view!

Jon K. Lawson at the start of our search entering the Sheep Mountain Wilderness.

Patric J. Macha and a piece of tire from Bu No 125539.

Control pulley with original pencil writing "855 left" from time of manufacture.

This wreckage was found scattered over 250 feet of forest floor.

A view looking into Prairie Fork Canyon.

More small parts from the F9F-5.



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