USMC Hellcats Crash on Mount Baldy



SHERIFF'S OFFICE, LOS ANGELES COUNTY - COMPLAINT REPORT

Date:March 2, 1949

Informant: CULVER ATC

Victim: UNKNOWN, USMC PERSONNEL

Location: Mount Baldy, 9000-9500 foot level

Informant called reporting that two Marine F6F's (Hellcats) had departed from El Toro Base on a local flight to practice instrument flying. They carried serial numbers 94202 and 94182 and large model numbers WF 9 and WF 14. They left at 9:00 AM to be gone on a three-hour flight and had 3-1/2 hours fuel. They were to confine themselves to the local practice area which was roughly defined as being south of a line due west from Los Angeles, north of the Mexico border, west of the coastline and west of Salton Sea. They radioed their tower at 10:40 AM stating they were on the east leg on the Santa Ana range.

At approximately 10:00 PM an APB was received from Orange County Sheriff's Office reporting that a Corsair F4U, serial number 97448, model number AB 16 had been missing since 2:30 PM this date. This teletype reported that this plane had sufficient fuel to last until 6:00 PM. Last contact with this F4U at 2:30 PM reporting that it was off Santa Cruz Island.

At 7:10 PM an APB was received from San Diego Sheriff's Office reporting that the two above mentioned F6F's and also that one F-84 "Fury" jet plane was also missing. This jet plane was later discovered down 50 miles northwest of Bakersfield, the pilot was uninjured.

On 3/5/49 the missing Corsair F4U was found crashed on Santa Cruz Island. On 3/6/49 the two missing Hellcats were found crashed on the west side of Mount Baldy at an altitude of between 9000 and 9500 feet. All of the occupants of these three ships were killed by the crash.


WRECK SITE VISITED


In October 1996, I located the Hellcat crash sites on the south side of Mount Baldy about 1000-feet below the peak. The tail section of one of the Hellcat's was laying intact up against a tree. The center section of the same aircraft was located about 100-feet north and there were numerous other pieces of fuselage, wings, radios and engine scattered about in the surrounding area.