Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West

Piper PA-18


Piper Super Cub N1256A departed Chiriaco Summit airfield flown by a twenty-eight year old pilot bound for his home base at Cable Airport in Upland, CA. The weather along the Interstate 10 corridor was clear initially, but west of the Banning Pass it was IFR into Cable Airport area. Apparently the pilot flew above the overcast using the San Gabriel Mountain peaks as reference points. Selecting a peak near the mouth of San Antonio Canyon the pilot flew down the canyon hoping to break out under the clouds, and then make his way VFR to Cable Airport.

When N1256A failed to arrive at Cable Airport a search was initiated on with no result. It was not until 4/15/79 that the wreckage of N1256A was spotted and reported.

The crash site was located on a small mountain near Upland at 2,900’ MSL on a very steep and brushy slope. The wreckage is concentrated in a 50’x50’ area mostly concealed by the undergrowth on a south facing slope.

In the spring of 2011 environmental biologist and wreck hunter Ryan Gilmore found the wreckage of N1256A, and was surprised that 85% plus still remained at the site.

Thanks to Ryan’s efforts George Petterson, Bruce Guberman, and myself were able to visit the Super Cub crash site in June 2011. The weather on our hike was cool with a stratus deck of “June Gloom” clouds enshrouding the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Conditions similar to the day N1256A disappeared. After several hours of walking, and climbing we arrived at a point where we could see the Super Cub wreck. At this point only Bruce went over the main impact on a very steep and slippery slope. George and I observed Bruce from about 150’ away where we took photos of him examining the crash site.

Sometimes VFR pilots are able to drop into the greater L.A. Basin by flying down a canyon where they successfully pop out under the weather to find their way home.

Many times this is not the case for a variety of reasons and the consequences are often tragic as in the loss of N1256A.

Link to visit to PA-18 video


With clouds swirling in the background Bruce Guberman, on right and George Petterson on left, en route to the PA-18 crash site. The weather during our hike may have mirrored that fateful day in May 1978. (G.P. Macha photo)

Our first view of the Piper PA-18 Super Cub crash site. (G.P. Macha photo)


Bruce Guberman traversed to the crash site. (G.P. Macha photo)

The smashed and entangled remains of N1256A. (Bruce Guberman Photo)

The Avco Lycoming four cylinder engine remained intact, but hard to photo document due to the undergrowth. (Photo courtesy Ryan Gilmore)

Bruce Guberman photo documents the engine firewall. (G.P. Macha photo)



Bruce Guberman takes photos of wreckage within the undergrowth, where thankfully no Poison Oak was observed. (G.P. Macha photo)




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