Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West

Picture Archive 1

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Latest Pictures on page 9 - April 17, 2013

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In the summer of 1963 I went to work at a YMCA youth camp in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. It was near here that I happened to stumble upon the wreck of an Air Force C-47D. Seeing the remains of C-47D #45-1124 strewn on the east flank of 11,499 foot Mt. San Gorgonio (Old Grey Back) made a lasting impression.

C-47D 45-1124 as seen glinting from State Highway 38 near Onyx Summit in August 2010. The wreckage continues to slide farther down the NE flank of Mt. San Gorgonio with each successive winter season.(G. P. Macha photo)


From that summer to the present I have been on the trail, whenever possible, documenting old aircraft wreck sites. Tragically thirteen men died in the crash of #45-1124 on 12/1/52. Heavy snowfall prevented rescuers from reaching the crash site until 12/21/52, but no bodies were removed until 5/3/53. One of the passengers had survived the crash, but died of exposure within days.

I took this photo of #45-1124 in July 1963. Today the wreckage has slid farther down the mountain, and the yellow X has faded, but the impact of seeing #45-1124 remains undiminished for all who pass by.


Pre-WWII insignia on empennage of Boeing B-17C USAAF #40-2047 lost 11/2/41.

Pat J. Macha and door located aft of bomb bay on #40-2047.

G. Pat Macha and wing center section of #40-2047.

G. Pat Macha and horizontal stabilizer of #40-2047.

G. Pat Macha and Don Jordan meet for the first time in July 2002 at B-17C #40-2047 crash site in El Dorado National Forest. What a day! Visit Don's web site for the full story on this accident.

Three people were killed when their Cessna 172 N4503L ran out of fuel at night east of Big Bear Lake on 5/17/69.

Date unknown. Schweizer 2-32 crashed in bottom of the east fork of San Gabriel River Canyon two miles south of Vincent Gap. Wreckage is visible and unmarked.

1/12/37. Boeing 247D NC-13306 of Western Air Express crashed into the north slope of Pinetos Peak near San Fernando. One crew member and four passengers died in the crash. However, two of the crew and six passengers survived with serious injuries. The well-known African explorer Martin Johnson died in the crash but his wife, Osa, survived. This was a weather related accident. Only a few small parts remain at site today.


Lt. Edward F. Bickford was killed in the crash of a U.S.A.A.F. AT-6C 42-48918 on July 2, 1947. in rugged Grand Canyon below the ruins of the Mt. Lowe resort. The accident occurred following a fly-over of his home in Pasadena, California during which he performed several aerobatic maneuvers. Following the maneuvers Lt. Bickford flew up a steep and rugged canyon where he crashed below the ruins of the old Mt. Lowe Resort. Lt. Bickford was a highly decorated 9th Air Force Ace. Photo depicts the starboard wing of the AT-6C with star and bar insignia (Photo by G.P. Macha circa 1989)


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