Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West



While working at YMCA Camp Conrad in the San Bernardino Mountains during the summer of 1964 I visited the wreck of Boeing Stearman PT-17 NC53475 on the old Heart Bar Ranch. On 7/15/45 one USAAF pilot and his civilian instructor ran out of gas and force landed in remote Fish Creek Meadows near the San Gorgonio Wilderness. The two men sustained only minor injuries and then hiked for several hours before they reached State Highway 38 at the South Fork of the Santa Ana River. A husband and wife who were picnicking at the river on that summer day so long ago, drove the flyers to Redlands to report the mishap. I knew part of this story since the 60ís, but I did not know the accident date, and I assumed the plane was USAAF. Thanks to Craig Fuller and his AAIR accident report files I was able to learn the crew names, exact date of the crash, and that the plane was assigned to the Civilian Pilotís Training Program. When the State of California took over the Heart Bar Ranch the PT-17 was hauled off to the dump and buried there. To learn more about the resources that Craig offers, click link below.


G. Pat Macha circa summer 1964 sits in the fuselage framework of Boeing Stearman PT-17 NC53475 that forced landed in Fish Creek Meadows on 7/15/45.
(G.P. Macha photo)




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