Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West
P-38G Huntington Beach
On Sunday afternoon June 27th 1943, a U.S. Army Air Force Lockheed P-38G 42-13389 departed Santa Ana Army Airfield. The P-38G was flown by Flight Officer Eugene R. Fair assigned to the 332nd Fighter Squadron. F/O Fair was flying a training mission along with three other P-38ís when the right engine lost power causing him to feather the propeller. F/O Fair then saw that the manifold pressure was dropping on the left engine and he bailed out.
The P-38 began a descending turn that tragically led to a crash on a densely populated stretch, of what is now Huntington Beach, California. Four children were killed, and more than forty others were injured. Two of those injured sustained serious life threatening burns. Meanwhile, Flight Officer Fair landed safely by parachute east of Pacific Coast Highway. Tragically, F/O Fair had intended that his P-38G crash into the Pacific Ocean.
The accident was forgotten about until 2016 when Maria Mendez Young launched an effort to place a memorial marker at or near the P-38G crash site. On June 27, 2016 a gathering was held about a quarter mile from the crash site at the Huntington by the Sea Clubhouse. In attendance were relatives of the Borrego and Silva Families whose loved ones were killed and injured in the worst aviation accident in Huntington Beach history.
A memorial plaque was dedicated and placed at the Huntington by the Sea Clubhouse, until a more accessible to the public site can be found.
Memorial plaque donated by The Shore, LP & Advanced Real Estate Services, Inc. was dedicated on June 27th 2016 honoring the memory of those killed and injured on June 27, 1943. (Photo Courtesy Chris Epting)
The families who suffered, and lost loved ones on 6/27/43 did not blame the pilot as they understood it was a tragic accident. The P-38 pilot, Eugene R. Fair went on to serve with distinction in the European Theatre of Operations during WWII, earning the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. 1st Lt. Fair flew combat missions in the Korean War, and passed away in June 1958. (Photo Courtesy Marc McDonald)