Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West
G. Pat Macha

Now Available At Fine Bookstores Everywhere!


Members of the Project Remembrance Team recently documented the crash site of American Air Lines DC-3 NC-21799, lost in bad weather on March 3, 1946. This accident claimed twenty-seven lives. The story of this tragic loss will be included in Historic Aircraft Wrecks of San Diego County, available from the History Press in September 2016. (G.P. Macha photo)

  KPBS Video: 70 Years After Plane Crash, Pilot Finds Wreckage In San Diego Mountains 

**  Breaking News High Sierra June 2016  **

Cessna 182C Accident on 11/10/69 near Big Bear Lake, CA 

  Video: San Bernardino Mountains SNJ-4 Mystery 
  Read book review for new release, Finding Carla by Ross Nixon 



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Web Site Updated  10/14/16

G. Pat Macha
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Author  "Aircraft Wrecks..." Book
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"The Wreck Finder Aircraft Archaeologist" KCET SoCal Connected Video

"An Aircraft Historian's Logbook"
Courtesy of KCET SoCal Connected

Project Remembrance = PR

Gertrude "Tommy" Tompkins in her leather flight jacket with Fifinella emblazoned on it.
(Courtesy Whittall-Scherefee Family)

Ongoing Search for
Gertrude Tompkins Silver

Silver update August 26, 2010
Congressional Gold Medal

In mid-May 2015 a Marina Del Rey Sportfishing boat captained by John Petrov raised his anchor with an 18’ to 20’ piece of aircraft wreckage attached. Note the cast metal structure with aluminum skin attached. Captain Petrov did not attempt to bring the wreckage on board, but he did GPS his position.

What had they found? Rick Oefinger of Marina Del Rey Sportfishing contacted wanting to know if we had any data regarding their most interesting find. Gary Fabian found the answer in his UB88.ORG data base. The wreck was most likely from the Douglas DC-8 LN-MOO flown by SAS that crashed into Santa Monica Bay at 7:22 P.M. on January 13, 1969 with forty-five passengers and crew on board. Fifteen lives were lost, but twenty-nine survived, seventeen of these with injuries. The empennage and tail section broke off and sank on impact, but the rest of the DC-8 floated and was salvaged. The cause of the accident was assigned by the NTSB to pilot error. (Photo courtesy Rick Oefinger)

Aircraft Crash Site Pages

Stories with Returned Artifacts

B-24D   4/9/44
B-24L   1/30/45
  10/2/44   PR

Story Archive
UH-1 Huey  

B-17F   5/30/43

B-24E   12/5/43
6/21/43   PR
B-36D   8/5/52   PR
B-47B 10/13/55  PR
BT-13B   10/2/44
BT-2B   2/8/31
C119C   1980
C-46A   10/5/45
C170A   3/2/57
Champion Citabria   7/4/67
Curtiss AT-9A   12/30/42
DC-2   3/1/38
DC-3   10/23/42
DC-3   11/21/50  
DC-3 GS  
2/18/69   PR
11/10/82  Info Request
F-105D   12/7/67
F3D-2   3/9/53 
10/3/56   PR
F-4D    4/20/67
(3) F4F-4   2/13/42
F4U-4   4/23/46   PR
JF-104A   5/1/57
Dakota MK IV  
3/13/45   PR
Lear Jet 24B  
Mooney M20  
 6/18/44 & 9/10/62
SNB-4   1/9/55  PR
5/15/55  PR
TWA Martin 404  
XRK-1   3/28/38   New Story

Steve Fossett

Monument Sites
A4D-2   7/8/59   PR
A.C. 690A
12/6/42   PR
B-24E   7/5/43   PR
B-24E   3/3/44  
B-24J    5/4/45
B-24J/TF100C 7/2/44 & 4/9/57
B-25D WASP   10/2/44   PR
B-26    12/30/41
B-47E   7/18/57
Beechcraft 50   5/5/79
Beechcraft 95   6/7/64   PR
C-47 Dakota 6/26/45  
C-47D   12/1/52
C-130A   6/17/02
C-180   1/31/05
DC-6B   10/1/92
DH-4B   12/7/22
F8F-1   7/17/45  
FG-1   5/4/44   PR
FJ-4   3/27/61   PR
HUP-2   11/7/09
N-3PB   4/21/43
P-40's  10/24/41  Breaking News 
P2V5/C118A   2/1/58
PV-1   2/24/44
SNB-5   11/18/50   PR
TB-26C   4/11/56
X-2   9/27/56
X-15   11/15/67
BLM Aircraft Historical Sites


David Trojan’s Project  Remembrance Stories
New Section w/ Stories

Project page links to 8 .PDF stories
2 more stories added   New
1 more story added   New


Idaho & Nevada Crash Sites
by Marc McDonald

B-17F   12/2/1942   
B-17F   5/5/43
B-24E   12/19/43
Video for the B-24E
B-24D   5/29/43   New Story
B-24D   6/11/43  PR
B-24J   1/8/44   PR 
Video for the B-24J Idaho  New Video
B-24J   2/9/45
B-24J   8/19/44  PR
B-23   1/9/43
BT-13A   4/29/47 
C-46F   1/6/53
C-130E   5/13/95
Electra 10A   12/18/36
FJ-3   5/5/56 
P-39   2/6/43  PR
P-47D   6/22/44   New Story
P-47D   8/1/44
P-47D   8/28/44  
P-47G   9/28/44
PA-22-135  7/2/15  New Story
PA-23-250   3/23/63
PA-23   3/12/71
RF-4C   11/12/70

B-17F   3/30/43
New Story

Nebraska Wreck Finding
& Memorials
Thanks to Jerry Penry
These Links Take You To The Penry Sites
New Section


Recent find in Oregon
Loggers find WWII-era wreckage
62 year old crash

Picture Archive
Latest picture posted

Veterans pictures

How to ID a micro-site
ID a micro-site
Info added   5/15/07

Related Story
World War II Airman Found
Frozen in Glacier

Continuing story 9/28/07

For a complete list of articles featuring
G. Pat Macha

Related Links, Organizations
& Associations

Links   European links

Recommended Readings
Latest posting   May 4, 2016  

Thomas F. Gossett
E. "Butch" Gates


Patricia "Patty" Nannes was only twenty-one years old at the time of the crash.

DC-3 Gamblers Special Story


Honoring our Veterans of the skies who made the ultimate sacrifice!


"A Veteran is a person who wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America, for an amount of up to, and including his or her life".

2nd Lt. Samuel P. Hall was twenty-one years old when he volunteered to be a fighter pilot instructor. He was assigned to the 3035th Pursuit Training Squadron Victorville Army Air Base flying the Bell P-39 Airacobra.  On July 29, 1944 2nd Lt. Hall took off from VAAB at 8:31 a.m. in P-39N 42-18540 to practice air combat tactics. At 9:20 a.m. his aircraft was seen to pull up in a steep turn, stall, and enter a spin from which 2nd Lt. Hall did not recover. His aircraft struck the ground and burned about six miles southwest of the airbase. The army air force accident report cited a possible pilot blackout, possibly induced by pilot fatigue. 2nd Lt. Hall did not have dinner the night before the flight, and no breakfast on the morning of the flight as he had suffered from heat fatigue while playing tennis the day before the flight.

In late September 2016, Doug Humes contacted the Project Remembrance Team to see if it might be possible to locate the final resting place of P-39N 42-18540. Mr. Hume hopes to honor the service, and sacrifice of his uncle, 2nd Lt. Samuel P. Hall by visiting the crash site. The first of two planned missions are scheduled for late fall 2016, and winter 2017.
(Photo courtesy Douglas P. Humes, Esq.)


United States Air Force Captain James B. Fowler was twenty-seven years old when he was tragically killed in the crash of McDonnell Douglas F-4E 68-0356 on February 9, 1970. Photo courtesy of his sister, Mrs. Linda (Fowler) Williams.

Project Remembrance


On the evening of March 16, 1957 Lockheed F-94C 50-1059 assigned to the 46th Fighter Interceptor Squadron disappeared without a trace.  The F-94C Starfire was piloted by twenty-seven year old 1st. Lt. Henry Charles Nicolay, and radar intercept officer 1st Lt. Harold A. Lewis. The crew of the Starfire was part of a four ship flight en route from Bunker Hill A.F.B., Indiana to Wurtsmith A.F.B. located in Losco County, Michigan. As the flight approached their destination 1st. Lt. Nicolay’s F-94C dropped out formation, and failed to respond to radio messages from the flight leader. Clouds and darkness are thought to be factors in the loss of the F-94C and its crew, who are presumed to have crashed into Lake Huron. 1st Lt. Nicolay was married, with two young sons aged one and half and six months respectively.

Recently, Steven R. Nicolay the youngest son of Lieutenant Henry C. Nicolay, has made an appeal calling for a renewed search effort in the waters northeast of Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport. Advances in side scan technologies, and recent updates to USGS data may help in locating the final resting place of Lockheed F-94C 50-1059 and her crew. Volunteers interested in pursuing this important search mission, honoring the service and sacrifice of two air force officers during the Cold War era, should contact Steven Nicolay via


Video of the Loma Ridge Site Visitation and Memorial Dedication 6/25/15 & 6/27/15

Next of kin gather at Loma Ridge on June 25, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the C-135A crash that claimed seventy-two Marines, and twelve Air Force servicemen.
(Photo Courtesy Fred Fourcher)

Project Remembrance  This the largest Project Remembrance mission yet, thanks to Eagle Scout candidate Jordan Fourcher. Families traveled from all over the U.S. to be here today.

Orange County Register article and pictures, June 25th, 2015

Memorial Dedication June 27, 2015
at Great Park Irvine, CA 1:00 PM Open To The Public
Some of the Servicemen who gave their Lives in the C-135A Airplane Crash are below

On June 25, 1965 USAF Boeing C-135A 60-373 departed El Toro Marine Air Base at 1:44 AM with eighty-four men on board. At 1:46 AM the C-135A struck cloud enshrouded Loma Ridge to become the worst aviation accident in the history of Orange County, CA.

Click picture for 2 page .PDF info about Memorial Dedication

During a survey on behalf of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy in May-June 2007 I found the dog tags of USMC Lance Corporal Howard Duane Hall, Jr. The tags were held by the IRC until the fall of 2013 when I was contacted by a representative of the Hall Family. The Irvine Ranch Conservancy promptly returned the dog tags to the family in December, 2013.  (Photos courtesy Stephen A. Hall)

Boy Scout of America Jordan Fourcher became an Eagle Scout on 10/15/15. Jordan, is congratulated by members of the Court of Honor for his outstanding project to honor the service and sacrifice of eighty-four Marines and Air Force servicemen who lost their lives in Orange County on 6/25/65. Jordan’s project was the impetus that brought together surviving next of kin, by honoring and including them in activities that spanned three days, June 25 – 27, 2015. (Photo courtesy the Fourcher Family)

Corporal Theodore E. Stark. (Photo courtesy Elaine Stark)  New Photo

Corporal Timothy M. Treweek. (Photo courtesy Natali Matthew Hansen)  New Photo

Airman 3rd Class Elwood C. Van Note, Jr.. Photo was taken two days before his death by his sister Rosemary. (Photo courtesy Rosemary Jean Van Note)  New Photo

Lance Corporal Robert E. Harvey. (Photo courtesy Alyce Harvey)  New Photo

Lance Corporal Douglas D. Everett. (Photo courtesy Nicole & Robin West)  New Photo

Lance Corporal Robert E. Harvey. (Photo courtesy Alyce Harvey)  New Photo

The grave of Corporal Anthony E. Nelson. (Photo courtesy D. Martin) New Photo


Private First Class Lawrence R. Van Ness, USMC, was a native of Rochester, NY,
and was engaged to be married at the time of his death. (Photo courtesy of his niece, Marilyn Shaw)
New Photo

Proud to be a United States Marine, Lance Corporal Alfred Eugene Peterson looks sharp in his uniform. He was married and a father at the time of his tragic death on June 25, 1965. Lance Corporal Peterson was one of seventy-two Marines, and twelve Air Force men who died in the crash of a C-135A Stratolifter on Loma Ridge near El Toro MCAS in Orange County, California.
(Photo courtesy of Lisa Hollingsworth)

Marine Staff Sergeant Jackson M. Sinyard, Jr. was 33 years of age at the time of his death on June 25, 1965. He was married, and had four sons aged three weeks to six and a half years. (Photo Courtesy Bryan Sinyard)


Air Force officer, 1st Lt. Robert H.K. Shannon was twenty-nine,and married with five children at the time of his death on aboard Boeing C-135A 60-373. (Photo courtesy Barb Shannon)

Cpl. James V. Matruski (Photo courtesy Diane Horton)


Twenty-seven year old 1st Lt. John A. Zielke was 1st Pilot aboard the C-135A on 6/25/65. (Photo via Marc McDonald)

Corporal Jimmie E. Brown was twenty-four at the time of his death. His niece described him as a “True hero, with a great love of his Country”. (Photo courtesy Nancie Sellars)


Brandon Shippy, Eagle Scout candidate presents his completed project on 12/13/14 in Robinson Ranch, an area within the City of Rancho Santa Margarita in Orange County, CA. Brandon’s memorial project honors the memory of four marine airmen lost in two accidents. The first loss occurred on May 5, 1944 killing Captain Calvin K. Vermillion, USMCR. The second loss occurred on February 12, 1987 killing Major William J. Anderson, USMCR, Major Dudley W. Urban, USMCR, and Sergeant Bradley A. Baird, USMCR. Both crash sites are near the memorial marker. (Photo by G. P. Macha)

FG-1 Story  PR
Video: Corsair crash site


Lieutenant Edward F. Bickford served with distinction during WWII in Europe assigned to the 9th Air Force. He flew sixty-eight combat missions with the 356th Fighter Squadron, shooting down 5.5 enemy aircraft. Lt. Bickford earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters for heroism.The 356th Fighter Squadron received a Presidential Unit Citation during Lt. Bickford’s combat tenure.

Lt. Bickford remained in the army air force reserve following the war, and had completed his first year at Cal Tech. He was twenty-three at the time of his death in the crash of a USAAF AT-6C Texan, 42-48918 on July 2, 1947. The accident occurred following a fly-over of his home in Altadena, California. After performing a few aerobatic maneuvers he flew north into the San Gabriel Mountains, and up a steep canyon where he crashed. He was survived by his wife, and a year old daughter. (Photo courtesy Eileen Vesely)

Lt. Edward F. Bickford in combat flying gear while assigned to the 356th Fighter Squadron. (Photo USAF Official via Eileen Vesely)

Photo depicts the starboard wing of the AT-6C with star and bar insignia (Photo by G.P. Macha circa 1989)




USAAF Pvt. Stewart L. Nengel survived the in-flight breakup of a Douglas C-53A on 1/31/43. His amazing story of survival and rescue will be posted shortly. (Photo courtesy Denise Robinson-Bartow)

Video: Douglas C53 Skytrooper and Waco CG-4A Glider accident in 1943 - Part 1

Revised Video: Family members and rescuer visit 1943 Douglas C-53 aircraft crash site-Part 2

Project Remembrance


Stewart L. Nengel

Stewart L. Nengel is remembered for his service during WWII in the U.S. Army from November 1941 to November 1945. His citations included the American Defense, and American Theatre of Operations Ribbons. At the time of his honorable discharge he had earned the rank of Sergeant, and the Good Conduct, and Victory Medals. While in good service to his nation, Stewart L. Nengel  on January 31, 1943 survived an air disaster in California, parachuting from an army transport aircraft at low altitude. He sustained serious injuries that required forty-one days of hospitalization. 



Lt. (jg) Jack E. Joynson was twenty-four years old when he died in the crash of  a U.S. Navy Douglas AD-6 Skyraider on July 6, 1960 near Big Bear Lake, CA. Lt. (jg) Joynson was serving with VA-215 at the time of his death. (Photo courtesy Jack E. Joynson, Jr.)


On June 21, 2014 members of the Project Remembrance Team located the crash site of the U.S.N. Douglas AD-6 flown by Lt.(j.g.) Jack E. Joynson. The pilot’s son will visit the crash site later this summer accompanied the Project Remembrance Team. (Photo by Pat J. Macha)


USAAF 2nd Lt. William E. Dryer looking sharp and confident less than a year before his untimely death on cloud enshrouded Mt. Pinos in San Diego County, CA. 2nd Lt. Dryer was flying BT-13A 41-22019 while engaged in a cross-country navigational training flight on March 14, 1945 along with Cpl. Joseph F. Schubert, his ride along passenger. (Photo courtesy David D. Dryer)

2nd Lt. Richard N. Long, USAAF pilot that lost his life on 10/24/41 in Curtiss P-40 39-287. The wreckage of 2nd Lt. Long’s P-40 was not discovered until July 1959 when hikers accidentally spotted the the plane near South Guard Lake in the High Sierra. (Photo courtesy Joshua Long)



1st Lt William Henry Birrell was a West Point graduate who received his wings on March 14, 1941. On October 24th, 1941 1st Lt. Birrell crashed to his death near Bass Lake, while flying P-40 39-200. 1st Lt. Birrell was one of five 57th Pursuit Group pilots to crash or bailout over the High Sierra on that fateful day. (Photo via Tony Kirzan)

P-40 Story
Project Remembrance


Captain John Phillips, Jr. was flying a Boeing KC-97G assigned to the Strategic Air Command’s 96th Air Refueling Squadron when he crashed in the cloud enshrouded Box Springs Mountains on June 27, 1954. The accident occurred at 1:58 AM as the KC-97G approached March Air Force Base in Riverside County, CA. Captain Phillips and all thirteen of his passengers and crew were tragically killed in this weather related loss.
(Photo courtesy Edward Phillips)

KC-97G Stratotanker
at Box Springs Mt, CA

Project Remembrance


USAAF Assistant Radio Operator Private Vern Bassett Smith lost his life aboard B-24D 41-24262 on December 6, 1942 along with five other air crewmen. The accident was caused by an engine malfunction coupled with heavy clouds and icing conditions near the crash site nine miles southeast of Stewarts Point, CA. (Photo courtesy Jacquelyn Morrison)

B-24D Story
Project Remembrance

USAAF Flight Officer Frank J. Pryor and his wife in photo taken one month before his death in the Crash of B-24J on Mt. Harrison in Idaho. F/O Pryor was the navigator aboard 41-100050. (Photo courtesy Craig Fuller via Marc McDonald)


USAAF Bombardier Instructor, 1st Lt. Bernard Corman was killed along with two of his students on 8/13/43 when the USAAF Beechcraft AT-11 #42-27429 that he was flying in, crashed NW of Hinckley on the Mojave Desert. Also killed was the pilot of the AT-11. (Photo USAAF Official via Mrs. Loretta Kreft)

Captain George F. Bingham was the senior pilot  and aircraft commander aboard Douglas C-47D  #42-1124 when it crashed on Mt. San Gorgonio  on 12/1/52 killing all thirteen men on board.        Weather, darkness, and lack of a VOR at the     Palm Springs Intersection were cited as factors  in this accident. Captain Bingham had served with the USAAF during WW II, and he continued to serve in the USAF until his untimely death on 12/1/52. (Photo courtesy of the George F. Bingham Family)

C-47D Story


Sgt. James B. Shelton, USAAF was an assistant flight engineer on a B-24D that disappeared while on a routine training mission in October 1943.  (Photo courtesy Marc McDonald via the Shelton Family)

On October 6, 1943 Consolidated B-24D 41-24041 departed Pocatello Army Air Field in Idaho for an over water navigational training mission to the Pacific Ocean southwest of Fort Dick, California. The B-24D was to have made radio contact with shore stations every thirty minutes until they landed at Hamilton Field in California. The only radio message received was at Klamath Falls, Oregon. When 41-24041 failed to arrive at Hamilton Field the aircraft and its crew of ten were posted missing, and were presumed to be lost at sea. No trace of the B-24D or its crew has ever been found.  Search missions were flown over the wilds of southwestern Oregon, and northwestern California in case the ill-fated B-24D had crashed on land. 



S/Sgt. Gordon L. Walker was the Crew Chief aboard North American Aviation B-25D #41-30114 assigned to Victorville Army Air Base in fall of 1944. Tragically, S/Sgt. Walker shown in this photo with his wife Alyene, was killed along with his crewmates on October 2, 1944 in a crash on the Mojave Desert. S/Sgt. Walker was twenty-four years old at the time of his death. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major Gordon S. Walker, the grandson of S/Sgt. Walker)

B-25D story
Project Remembrance


S/Sgt. Irving B. Kibler was killed flying a USAAF Douglas DB-7B (A-20) on October 10, 1942 while flying a gunnery training mission south of Blythe Army Air Base. The accident was attributed to possible target fixation during a strafing run. S/Sgt. Kibler was the sole occupant of the DB-7B and he was assigned to the 51st Bombardment Squadron at the time of his death. S/Sgt. Kibler was described as eager to serve his country in combat. (Photo courtesy of the Kibler Family)  

2nd Lt. Gordon A. Zempel served as a B-17 pilot during WWII, and he continued to serve in the USAF Reserve until his death at age twenty-three on January 24, 1948. 2nd Lt. Zempel disappeared in a USAF North American Aviation T-6D while on a routine proficiency flight from Norton Air Force Base. The wreck of his aircraft was not discovered until August 6, 1948 in the San Bernardino Mountains. (Photo courtesy William H. Zempel)

AT-6D Video
Project Remembrance



Additional Veterans Pictures


Site Dedication

This site is dedicated to the memory of those men and women who lost their lives in service to our nation,
especially those who remain missing and unaccounted for, in the vastness of the American West and the Pacific Ocean.

Web site by Ron Funk    


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          Copyright©, 2000 - 2016, G. Pat Macha