C46 Commando Crashes on Mount Baldy


On October 5, 1945, a Curtis C46 "Commando" crashed on Mount Baldy. The ill-fated flight was caught in bad weather and almost missed hitting the top of 10,060 foot Mount Baldy. The underside of the craft grazed the peak and plummeted into the canyon below, breaking apart as it tumbled down the mountainside at a high rate of speed. Scratches and marks are still visible in the granite to this day! The fuselage and one wing landed at a point 2000 feet northeast of the peak and about 1000 feet down the side of the slope.


WRECK SITE VISITED


In October 1996 some friends and I set out to find the C46, two Hellcats and a T33 that crashed near the summit of Mount Baldy. The trail leading to the crash site is a moderate four-mile hike from the ski lift at Mount Baldy Village.

As we approached the summit of Baldy we noticed small pieces of wreckage on the ground. I traversed over the side of the mountain and located more wreckage which was scattered in a northwesterly direction starting at the summit and extending for about 2000 feet. The slope of the mountain is about 45 degrees and drops rapidly into a steep canyon about a mile or two below. The slope is covered with loose gravel, which makes the trek to the wreck site slow and very dangerous.


I was able to locate the cockpit area of the plane and uncovered the control quadrants, ADF radio, a few intact instruments and the control wheels from the plane, all of which were buried under several feet of rocks and debris. Nearby, a wing with landing gear attached is laying on a rock outcropping where it had come to a rest 51 years ago.


One of the wings from the C46 was found in a drainage 300-feet down the south slope and on the other side of Mount Baldy.

In addition to the C46, there are two Hellcats that crashed on the south slope of Baldy in 1949 (see related story on homepage), and a USAF T-33 that crashed on the western slope in 1959. In addition, there have been numerous civilian plane crashes over the years. I attempted to locate the T-33 without success, so I am planning another attempt in the near future. It was reported that the T33 lays partly intact at the 8000-foot level with USAF insignia clearly visible on the wings.