TBM-3 "Avenger" Crashes Near Acton


SHERIFF'S OFFICE, LOS ANGELES COUNTY - FIRST REPORT

Date:October 29, 1945

Informant:Operator McNeil, Palmdale Army Airport, Palmdale, CA

Victims: Three (3) Unidentified Navy Personnel

Location: Near SPRR Station, Vincent, California

Time:At approximately 2:10 PM this date

Upon arrival at Southern Pacific Depot, Vincent, we were met by Edward Lary, of Vincent, who located the wreckage, undersigned were directed to scene of crash by Mr. Lary

Upon arrival at scene found a Navy TBM-3 plane had crashed and burned, plane was completely demolished, victims mangled and burned beyond recognition.

At 4:30PM Deputy walked out and notified station of facts and Lt. Griggers, Aero Detail was notified, CAA at Los Angeles (Ward) notified and in turn notified Navy Department. Station desk notified Marine Air Station at Mojave, who dispatched crash equipment.

At 4:40PM captain England, Sgt. Keller and Deputy Roth arrived and assisted in the investigation.

Captain Morrison, Operations Officer, Marine Air Station, Mojave, arrived with crash equipment, being convoyed by radio car 133 Deputies Stockbridge and Gage.

Bodies were removed to Marine Air Station Mojave for possible identification and thence to be removed to O'Donnell Mortuary, Barstow, California.

captain Morrision stated that he believed the plane to be from Marine Air Base at Goleta, California, but was not certain at this time.

In view of the fact that the Navy will handle case to a conclusion request that this file stand suspended insofar as Lancaster Station is concerned.

Deputies Anderson and Dudley, Car 131 Days


WRECK SITE VISITED

After searching the hillside near the present day Vincent Hill station for about two hours, I finally stumbled upon a small, gray metal, canister that was badly ripped and torn apart. I proceeded down the hillside and into a deep canyon below. Near the bottom of the hill I found many pieces of aluminum, broken bits of Plexiglas, hoses and pipe fittings, and other related parts. It appeared that the TBM hit hard and was destroyed in the post impact fire. There also is a large depression near the crash site; possibly the Navy buried the remains of the plane on site, which was a common practice during the war.

The plane was traveling in a northerly direction towards Palmdale, or perhaps was headed towards the Marine Corps Air Station in Mojave, when for unknown reasons it struck a low hill and exploded into flames and was completely destroyed. The crash site is just east of the present day Highway 14 near Vincent Hill Station. Perhaps the pilot was "scud running" trying to avoid bad weather or was caught in the clouds, seriously off course, and below a safe altitude. We may never know what really happened, but one thing is certain, these brave soles lost their lives defending our country and fighting for the cause of freedom.

During the 1930's and into the 50's the major northeast airway leading out of the Los Angeles basin was situated almost over the present day Sierra Highway and parts of highway 14. Numerous commercial and military aircraft flew over the Sierra Pelona Mountain en route to the practice areas located in the Mojave Desert and to points east. During the war years There were many airfields and air bases situated in the Mojave Desert. There was a training base at Mira Loma west of Lancaster known as "War Eagle" where many British flyers earned their wings, to the north was Marine Corps Air Station Mojave, Palmdale was an Army Air Base, Muroc (now Edwards) to the northeast was an Army Air base and bombing range, and much farther to the east, in Victorville, was the Victorville Army Air Base (later renamed George AFB). The clear weather afforded year round flying and the military took advantage of this fact. The Marine's sent flyers in from the coastal air bases at Goleta, El Toro and others, to Mojave to practice dog fighting and to hone their bombing skills. P38's from Metropolitan Airport (now Van Nuys Airport) flew in to practice advanced flying maneuvers over the open desert and BT13's piloted by British and later American students filled the skies in Lancaster. Many accidents have occurred over Acton, Palmdale and Lancaster, and the Mojave Desert in general. Most people are not aware of the fact that during the war more than half of all aviation fatalities occurred within the United States! Many of these accidents were training related.

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