Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West

F4U-4 Crash Site
Orange County, Ca
Project Remembrance


The relatively low coastal hills of south Orange County, Ca. include the crash sites of at least six W.W.II era aircraft. With urban encroachment accelerating, I decided to see if anything might remain of a U.S.M.C. Douglas SBD-5 that crashed in the Aliso Creek area in 1944.

My first visit was to "Top of the World" and a cursory look at the chaparral covered east slopes of the high ridge. My second trip started with a visit to the Aliso and Woods Canyon County Park headquarters off Alicia Parkway. Fortunately, Park Ranger Tom Maloney was in his office and said he had visited a crash site near "Top of the World" following a brush clearing effort using goats and he had picked up some pieces that he had boxed and allowed me to examine. The faded blue metal raised my hopes that the SBD site was now within reach.

None of these parts included the manufacturing parts numbers or stamps, but the crash site map provided by Mr. Maloney enabled me to drive back to "Top of the World" and hike about one half mile to the crash site. I found small aircraft parts scattered over 100 yds. of hillside. An impact crater was evident about 20 feet below the ridge top of the east-facing slope. The crash site lined up perfectly with U.S.M.C. Air Station El Toro, indicating that the pilot had crashed shortly after take-off from El Toro.

Examination of the crash site resulted in locating parts with "VS" stamped on it. VS is the code for Vought Sikorsky Aircraft Company and confirmed that the wreck was a F4U-4 "Corsair". Because of the blue paint on the exterior surfaces of the wreck, I was able to determine that the crash would have occurred between 1945 and 1955 because the color scheme was consistent with that time period.

Following a four hour examination of the site that included a G.P.S. fix, extensive photos and notes, I determined that only 1% of the aircraft remained. Further research determined that the cause of this accident had been a mid-air collision with another F4U-4 Bu 81038 USMC aircraft resulting in the death of Capt. C. D. Paizis USMCR. 2nd Lt. A. G. Sadeski bailed out successfully and his F4U-4 USMC aircraft is site that is described here.

Aircraft type: Vought F4U-4 USMC Bureau Number: unknown Date of crash: 4/23/46
Fate of pilot: 2nd Lt. A.G. Sadeski made successful bailout with minor ankle injury. Cause of accident: Practicing air combat tactics.

Article in the Orange County Register, "Crash site revives 60-year-old memories" - Sunday, January 14, 2007

Click on thumbnail to see large view!

Mary Jane Macha finds the first parts from F4U-4 Corsair at 'Top of the World" south of Laguna Beach, CA.

Armor plate from behind pilot's seat with hiking stick.

My grandson, nephews, brother-in-law and son with parts recovered from crash site.

Parts from F4U-4 crash site. Please remember to take photos only - leave everything else for posterity and out of respect.

Propeller tip from F4U found 250 feet below ridge top.

Orange County Park Ranger Tom Maloney with parts that he found at the crash site of F4U-4 BuNo 81369 in the year 2000.

Major A. E. Sadeski USMC
( photo courtesy Mrs. Betty Sadeski )

Mrs. Betty Sadeski, left and daughter Gail on the right examine wreckage from BuNo 81369 in January 2007.
( photo courtesy Mrs. Betty Sadeski )

1/18 scale model of Vought F4U-1D rests cowling skin of Vought F4U-4 at the crash site of BuNo 81369. The F4U-4 had a larger engine and a four bladed propeller.
( photo courtesy Mrs. Betty Sadeski )




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