Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West



JF-104A 5/1/57.

On May 1, 1957 Engineering Test Pilot for Lockheed Aircraft John J. Simpson, Jr. was flying Lockheed JF-104A-1-LO # 55-2962 on a routine test flight from Palmdale, California when he experienced a right aileron malfunction that led to a violent pitch down that resulted in the the loss of the tail assembly. Mr. Simpson ejected upside down at approximately 17,000' at some 380 to 400 knots. Amazingly he landed without major injuries near Hwy 58, East of Kramer Junction on the Mojave Desert. #55-2962 made a crater in the desert some two miles north of  Hwy 58, NE of Kramer Junction. 2% to 3% of Jack Simpson's JF-104A remain at the crash site today.

When I told my sister Cindy Macha-Skjonsby, Director of the Western Museum of Flight at Hawthorne Airport that that I had visited Mr. Simpson's JF-104A crash site she said that she knew "Suitcase" and that she would arrange for us to meet. Since our first meeting in the Spring of 2005 I've learned a lot about Jack "Suitcase" Simpson and his aeronautical achievements. If you would like to learn more about the life and adventures of "Suitcase" I can recommend his book in two volumes titled Socrates 'N Suits. To order his books go to , or , or phone 1-888-7954274. These books are recommended for mature readers only.



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North American Aviation F-86F painted in Jack "Suitcase" Simpson's Korean War markings. All the planes he flew he named "Appleknocker".


"Suitcase" Simpson and G. Pat Macha with "Suitcase's Appleknocker" at the Western Museum of Flight.

"Suitcase" with his Lockheed JF-104A #55-2955 "Appleknocker" circa 1957. This aircraft was written off in a successful dead stick landing.
(Photo courtesy Jack Simpson"


Pat J. Macha in the impact crater of #55-2962.

Assorted wreckage of "Suitcase's" JF-104A, including engine turbine blades.


Many of the parts remaining have the F-104 series prefix numbers 72-, 74-, 76-, etc.

The wreckage of #55-2962 is scattered over a wide area of vacant desert.




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