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1954 Plan Crash near El Oso Mine [ Found ]

Posted: Nov 03 2003 2:53 pm
by juswalkin
I'm looking for a historical plane crash site from 1954 that my Grandparents were killed in. The newspaper article from the time said that the sheriff from Globe drove to the El Oso mine, thansfered to a Power Wagon for two miles over rough trail, then by foot to the crash site. The plane missed clearing the ridge by 50 feet that was the edge of the Tonto Basin.

I went to the El Oso mine about three weeks ago and hiked around for three days, but didn't find anything. Has anyone ever found anything like this in their hiking or heard of any stories?

Thanks Juswalkin

Posted: Nov 03 2003 7:37 pm
by Daryl
If news was as accurate in 1954 as it is today, I wouldn't but much faith in the details.
If you'd like help you may be able to gather some volunteers from here and perform a line search of the area. I'd help, sounds interesting.

Posted: Nov 03 2003 8:00 pm
by Marc LaBelle
There's nothing like closure where the family is concerned. Since public service is my thing, I would help if is that important to you. loving my job is two fold. I love getting to wear the uniform, and I get to unselfishly help those around me who are in need. And as Daryl said, It does sound interesting. keep me posted.


possible sources of info

Posted: Nov 03 2003 8:10 pm
by montezumawell
Your post sparked a memory of a story we read in a national magazine awhile back about "wreck chasers"--they are people who are in a unique subcategory in the broader avocation of aviation forensics.

Anyway, after we penned our first reply to your topic we went off and actually found an article on the topic in an Internet archive of Smithsonian magazine.

We think the original article we read was perhaps in the National Geographic Traveler. As esoteric as the hobby of "wreck chasing" seems to be, we are fairly certain it is moderately well documented in various media. Anyway, it's interesting to see it in the Smithsonian magazine.

We're suggest you contact the primary individual in this story. It is quite likely he can help you find the site immediately. ... efile.html

We will continue snooping 'round El Net looking for various sources of info on both wreck chasing and aviation forensics.

Will let you know if we find anything more. Good Luck!

And God Bless Your Grand Parents!


This is a link found via the Smithsonian's website:

It shows the site of a B-23 crash on Loon Lake, Idaho. Ironically, the aviationarchaeology people are based out of Falcon Field in Mesa and give seminars on military wrecks. We'd betcha a dollar to a dime that someone there would know "right off" how to find your the site which you seek. Please let us know if these sources provide any value in your quest.

Posted: Nov 03 2003 9:48 pm
by bzachar

I poked around at If you click on "Crash History in Arizona" you'll find the following:

"If you have any information regarding a crash site please contact me as I am always looking for leads. If you or someone you know was involved in a wreck in Arizona, please don't hesitate to contact me as I can probably point you in the right direction for finding information on the crash, or even the crash itself as I have many resources pertaining to the mishaps during WWII and the years following. Out of respect for these sites of lost airmen or aircraft, I do not give out locations except for legitimate reasons including family members or friends wanting to visit the site."

The site contains contact info for Craig Fuller and Trey Brandt.


Posted: Nov 04 2003 9:43 am
by AZ_Hiker
depending on when.. i can help in the search.. this is the time of year to do it.. let us know.

Crash site

Posted: Nov 04 2003 10:22 am
by juswalkin
Wow, I wasn't expecting this kind of responce and this really gives me a good feeling. You go thru life and just get used to rude store clerks, getting cut off in trafic and this is a very pleasent change. That being said I have had help from Craig Fuller, he went to the State liberary and got the newspaper clippings for me and has asked a friend in the FAA for help. I sent a e-mail to Brent also. They both were helpful, but search for milatary crash sites and don't have allot of experence with civilian sites.
I don't plan on going back till spring of next year to continue my hunt and hopefully I will have some additional information from records of the time. I will keep everyone posted on my progress. Thanks to All

Re: Crash site

Posted: Nov 04 2003 8:42 pm
by joebartels

give us as many details on the area you searched as possible
(ie: distance/radius from the mine, terrain you encountered etc.)

I think there's at least a dozen of us just dying to scour the area

search area

Posted: Nov 05 2003 9:38 am
by juswalkin
When I went there I camped in Big Pine Flats in a motorhome just off the El Oso road. I have a Honda trail 70 that I used on the road to the mine, some places are very rough. I used a two mile radius for my search, but tried to look in as much open area as possible for the first time. I looked in the east area from the mine at Big Pine Spring and the Denton trail to where it starts to drop off, then crosscountry to about seven small peaks. I went west from the Forest Service road, it's not shown on my topo and it's shown as the Mazatzal Divide Trail, to as many points as I could get to from the north at Ballantine Canyon to the south at Coyote Springs. The story goes that Sheriff Jack Jones from Globe drove by car to the El Oso mine, transfered to a Power Wagon for two miles over rough trail til the underbrush got to thick. Then continued to the crash site by foot getting to the crash site at 9:00 pm. Working thru the night with flash lights and lanterns to remove the bodies the recovery was complete by 2:00 am the following motrning. The crash site was first spotted by Captain Victor J. Ruffer from March Air Force Base, Riverside Ca. Air Rescue Squadron at 6:35 pm and he radioed a smaller plane in the area from Star Flying Service Yuma, that stayed at the crash site and guided two miners from the El Oso mine to the downed plane. The Civil Air Patrol From Pheonix was involved in the search.

Posted: Nov 05 2003 10:30 am
by Sredfield
I called the Sheriff's office in Globe, and got a dose of what you mean about service and concern for others. I was informed that they keep records for only 5 years, thank you very much and have no idea of where else to look.

Anyway, this is intriguing. The ridge top is the county line in that area I believe, so if that sheriff was involved, the site should be on the east side of the ridge.

How big a plane was it?


Posted: Nov 05 2003 11:00 am
by pfredricks
I am willing to bet this is one of those things that you would almost have to be right on top of it to see it. Being very methodical would be pretty important.

Have you considered the possibility of arial photographs? I dont know if that would help or not, but maybe. I am almost certain there would have been some taken.

IF i could get the time off, i would be interested as well.

Posted: Nov 05 2003 11:16 am
by Daryl
The crash is 50 years old. Plants and trees have grown over, erosion may have buried parts of it, people may have taken parts home or moved them... It could be a needle in a haystack search.

1954 crash site

Posted: Nov 05 2003 1:35 pm
by juswalkin
I agree with all that with 50 years and people possible finding the site, fire, overgrow by who knows what that it is not going to be easy or possible to find. It was my mothers parents that were killed and we took over the operation of a chicken ranch that my grandparents had when I was 4 years old, so I have always grown up with this story and I just feel a need to try and find it.
I have a request with the Civil Air Patrol, and the Air Force for information but haven't heard anything yet.
Yes the Gila and Mericopa county line run thru the mountain ridge and I to have tried to use allot of that kind of thinking as to where it might be. The fact that the plane crash site was spotted at 6:35pm. The sheriff drove there by car from Globe over the old road and got to the crash site by 9:00pm after stopping at the mine.My cousin that is now almost 80 flew to the crash area, landed at a dirt strip near the lake and was driven to the mine that night. He told me that it was a very short distance from the mine, close enough that you could walk to from his memories and that doesn't match the newspaper stories. He also said that it was on the east slope of the souther most peak of the Four Peaks and that doesn't match either. My Uncle, my mothers brother, was flown to the same landing strip the next day, getting there around 3:00pm and as they were starting to drive up they meet the hearst coming down, so followed it in to Miami to Mills mortuary. I have found allot of information, some helpful some not. Maybe I need luck now.

Posted: Nov 05 2003 2:04 pm
by hikeaz
A metal detector might be of use......

Also, infared arial might help, as any metal would store heat during the day & be visible @ night......

Just my 2 cents.

Posted: Nov 05 2003 2:11 pm
by Daryl
I can't promise anything, but I can propose it to my search team as a training. You, and anyone else would be welcome to participate.

Do you mind if I propose it?

1954 crash

Posted: Nov 05 2003 2:17 pm
by juswalkin
forgot to say that the plane was a one year old Cessna 170 single engine four passanger plane silver and red.

1954 crash site

Posted: Nov 05 2003 2:32 pm
by juswalkin
At this time I feel that everything helps. Thank You for your thoughts.

Posted: Nov 05 2003 6:29 pm
by bzachar
Daryl wrote:I can't promise anything, but I can propose it to my search team as a training. You, and anyone else would be welcome to participate.
If this takes place, what would be the requirements (training, conditioning, equipment) to participate?

Posted: Nov 05 2003 6:48 pm
by mttgilbert
Daryl, as long as the timing works out, you can count me in for this also.

Posted: Nov 05 2003 7:23 pm
by Sredfield
Me too?