Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West



On June 16, 1961 air tanker pilot Verd Beatty was flying Grumman TBM-3E N9428Z over the Gila Mountain Wilderness. Beatty was following another TBM en route to a wildfire, and as he flew over a mountain ridge he was heard to exclaim “watch this”, where upon he collided with a tree causing his TBM to plunge into the bottom of a deep canyon. The wreck of N9428Z remains today mostly undisturbed in a remote, and beautiful New Mexico wilderness. This site is very tough to reach, and difficult see from the air or on the ground.

Historical information courtesy Craig Fuller at AAIR
All photos courtesy Brent Farlie

N9428Z had served in the U.S. Navy as TBM-3E Bu No 86026 prior to becoming an air tanker. As the fire fighting red paint fades, the USN blue and Bu No are revealed.

Tire from the main landing gear assembly.

Left wing with the standard red and white fire fighting paint scheme.

View of TBM-3E empennage and horizontal stabilizers with elevators still attached.

Another empennage view with good close-up of once fabric covered elevator.

Wing and flap as seen from the folding point, with main landing gear tire



button2.gif (2200 bytes)