Aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson [ Missing ]

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Aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson [ Missing ]

Post by arizonawrecks » Jul 15 2007 12:09 am

Hello,

I am looking for information regarding a wildland firefighting aircraft wreck site from June 21, 1961 near Payson.

Was wondering if anyone had run across wreckage or knew of particulars about this crash. Both pilots were killed spotting for borate bombers in the "Hatchery Fire" of 1961.

The aircraft was a Cessna 180 tail-dragger. It crashed near or within the hotspot of the fire and I imagine most if not all of the wreck was left on site as it was totally destroyed and burned. I just dont know where it is.

Newspaper article says: "1/4 mile east of the old Horton Creek Road, some 16 miles northeast of Payson."

Does anyone know what old Horton Creek Rd. is called now (Rim Road?)? Or run across aircraft aluminum in this area?

We are building a dedication page on our website to aircraft fire tanker crew fatalities in Arizona and had wanted to locate this crash site in particular because it is one of the oldest in the state.

I'll attach my write-up about the crash which is derived from about 20 newspaper articles I have retrieved on the crash. Civilian aircraft crashes prior to 1965 are very difficult to get records or reports on, otherwise we may have progressed further on this one.

Cessna 180 “birddog” Forest Service fire spotter plane
June 21, 1961

A Cessna 180 flying “birddog” spotter duty for borate bombers near Payson, Arizona collided with a Forest Service T-34 observation plane and crashed on this date. Killed onboard the C-180 was pilot Art Goodnow, age 40, a Forest Service contract pilot and passenger Constantine Kodz, 33, a Forest Service helicopter fire attack crew member.
The crash occurred at 7AM while both aircraft were guiding borate bombers into the fire. Their wings brushed with the T-34 (ex-USAF training aircraft). They were acting as “lead-in planes” for the borate bombers.
The Cessna plummeted to the forest ground near Horton Creek, a half-mile east of one of the hottest spots of the forest fire. It burst into flames causing another fire, which was put out by fire crews.
The T-34, piloted by Lou Parker, a Forest Service contract pilot, limped back to Payson Airport and landed safely with no injuries to himself or his passenger Howard Shupe, a Tonto air operations and fire control officer.
It took helicopter crews two and a half hours to reach the scene of the Cessna crash. Ground parties reached the site around noon and found the two Cessna crewmembers deceased. The bodies were removed and returned to Payson Airport.
Fires rages in the Tonto National Forest that summer. 5 days earlier, pilot Charles Cochran was killed in a converted WWII TBM Avenger borate bomber following engine trouble in the same area east of Payson fighting a separate fire called the “Robert’s Burn” which consumed 3,000 acres.
This Cessna 180 was helping to fight a second 400-acre fire in the area called the “Hatchery Fire”. More than 500 firefighters were fighting the blaze which was touched off by lightning in the D i c k Williams Creekarea southeast of Tonto Fish Hatchery. They were struggling to keep the fire from reaching the top of the Mogollon Rim.
The fire eventually burned 540 acres and knifed along a ridge close to the Mogollon Rim crest but the blaze fell back under the weight of firefighters and downhill winds. Fire crews actually built a fire line on top of the rim to stop the fire had it reached the top.

Constantine Kodz’ wife filed a wrongful death suit against the estate of pilot Goodnow and others for this mishap in the amount of $200,000 approximately 1962 (other defendants were Shupe and the owner of the Cessna 180, A.H. Davidson). She was awarded $70,000. Howard Shupe onboard the T-34 was also a defendant for directing the air operations that day. A couple other lawsuits commenced as well. Goodnow’s widow and daughter sued another unknown party (Forest Service?) for $100,000 and settled for $35,000. Another suit for $21,594.65 was filed by Payson Weight Flyte Service and their insurance company (probably for the cost of the aircraft) and settled for $15,000.

We aren’t sure of the basis of the lawsuits. It appears that the C-180 was supposed to relieve the T-34 and they should not have both been in the same area at the time of the mid-air. Fault may have been placed on Goodnow or Shupe and USFS for misdirecting operations that day, but we are not sure.

Lou Parker, pilot of the T-34, was killed in another air tanker crash in 1964 but we have been unable to find information on this crash.

There are two streets in Payson named Goodnow and Kodz. Both lived in Payson at the time of their deaths.

Thanks for any help ... it is much appreciated.

Best Regards,
Chris Baird
http://www.arizonawrecks.com

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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by joebartels » Jul 15 2007 12:26 am

"old Horton Creek Road"
I don't know but I'd assume it's the main trail (an old jeep road) that goes to the springs.
That could be a big search area as the trail/road is four miles long.

most recently on site is this guy is from Southern AZ
http://hikearizona.com/dex2/profile.php ... le&u=32980

there's a few other guys that are heavily into wreckage I'll post up if I remember
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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by arizonawrecks » Jul 15 2007 12:54 am

Thanks very much, Joe.

(and for the forum fix on the location of the creek)

I bet you are right about the old two-track, that would fit. I am only semi-familiar with the area having looked for F-100 and P-51 crashes near there.

This Cessna 180 site is even more important in my opinion, considering what they were doing at the time.

I would bet my hiking rig that the whole wreck is still on site, insurance carrier wouldnt have bothered recovering this one. I just hope we can nail it down and pay respects...

Cheers,
Chris Baird
http://www.arizonawrecks.com

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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by Nighthiker » Jul 15 2007 8:36 pm

Check with the Payson Rager District, Tonto National Forest and the Tonto National Forest main office in Phx. Also check the Gila County Sheriff's Department and the records from the county coroners office and the county highway department for road info. One of the wildland slurry bomber association has info on crashes as well but I can't find the link.
jk

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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by arizonawrecks » Jul 15 2007 10:50 pm

Cheers JK,

That's a great idea. I hadnt thought of old sheriff's records.

The slurry bomber website I think you might be talking about is this one (under "Memorial"):

http://airtanker.com/

They dont have this crew on there. Or location information. But it is nice of them to make the dedication.

The problem with getting civilian accident reports from that era is that it was the old CAA (not FAA or NTSB). These documents seem to have been lost forever (in fact, anything prior to 1978 is very difficult to get in detail).

Thanks for the help, I very much appreciate it.

--> Chris B.

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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by arizonawrecks » Jul 16 2007 11:39 pm

I did some old-fashioned paper-map work and think Joe may be right about Old Horton Creek Rd being the trail to Horton Spring and the area of this aircraft crash. The only other option seems to be the powerline road just west. Last option being the Rim Road.

See attached Googlearth images.

That's some rough terrain to be looking for a little Cessna 180 wreck.

Another pushpin point on the Googearth map is the Roberts Burn area. This is where a converted TBM Avenger borate bomber crashed a week earlier fighting another, larger fire...I havent looked into that one fully at all (2nd newspaper article attached).

I'm only guessing at the crash location though. It could be anywhere in there as newspaper article descriptions are often off by miles.

--> Chris Baird
http://www.arizonawrecks.com
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1.jpg
2.jpg
Charleston Gazette June 22 1961.JPG
TBM Payson crash Yuma Daily Sun June 16 1961.JPG

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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by joebartels » Jul 17 2007 12:18 am

now I'm really curious on the fire coverage
granted that was 40 years ago, those pines in there are huge!
Then again I don't have a clue much east of the creek.

Must be somewhere in the area between Horton and Derrick trails.
If it wasn't so dang hot I'd jump on that exploration. Might squeak out an on-trail loop, but forget scouring off trail this time of year.

jk knows the area better then most around here


arizonawrecks you should PM jeremy77777
he probably won't logon until Octoberish but he knows that area (off trail) very well
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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by arizonawrecks » Jul 18 2007 11:34 pm

I want to thank you all for your help (and reiterate that I am only guessing as to the Cessna crash site location on those Googlearth images).

I have requested (per Nighthiker's advice) documents from USFS thru FOIA, and Gila Co. Historical Society and Sheriff's, etc. to try to nail this site down. I dont expect any luck from NTSB, FAA, or the Dept of Transportation (from previous experience regarding pre-1965 aircraft accidents).

You're right about the burn area, Joe. Just east of the hatchery, doesnt look like a fire was there, that's for sure (even though I havent been up there in 3 or 4 years now) and since it has been 46 years, I guess those trees could really bloom.

It's possible the aircraft wrecked further N or NW of where I guesstimated it.

But anyway, I was happy to finally post something on hikearizona and appreciate the assistance.

Warmest Regards,
Chris Baird
http://www.arizonawrecks.com

PS--will post any findings and followup success

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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by Nighthiker » Jul 19 2007 9:10 pm

You may also want to check the forest service wildland headquarters in Bozeman Montana. I need to check my USGS topo maps of the area.

At the time of the fire it is possible they were using the 15 min. maps instead of the 7.5. Fires were usually named (at that time) after a feature labeled on the map. I am wondering if the fire was actually located near Pieper Springs Hatchery (just below General Springs) and the aircraft collided near Horton Creek. Friends who have been hiking the Horton Creek area have been reporting numerous rattlesnakes lately.
jk

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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by arizonawrecks » Jul 20 2007 6:41 pm

You may be right, JK.

Seems the wreck wouldve been common knowledge closer to the Payson Hatchery.

I just dont know.

I already heard back from USFS and they have no aircraft accident records prior to 1978 (via a Freedom of Information Act request and also a general request). Will be difficult to research this Cessna 180 from 1961. I expected as much...

As far as the TBM Avenger torpedo-bomber crash a week earlier (Roberts Fire, same general area but west). That wreck was largely salvaged in the 80s for aluminum but I guess the huge Wright R-2600 Cyclone engine and other small parts are still there.

Our intitial webpage is here ... but it is still rough and under construction:

http://arizonawrecks.com/azairtankers.html

Thanks again for the assistance.

--> Chris Baird
http://www.arizonawrecks.com

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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by Nighthiker » Jul 20 2007 8:06 pm

Records exist no telling how/where they are filed. Most debris if not salvaged was piled underneath vegetation.
jk

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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by joebartels » Jul 20 2007 10:37 pm

I am wondering if the fire was actually located near Pieper Springs Hatchery (just below General Springs) and the aircraft collided near Horton Creek.
over by East Verde, now you have me wondering that too
arizonawrecks wrote: across wreckage or knew of particulars about this crash. Both pilots were killed spotting for borate bombers in the "Hatchery Fire" of 1961.
are there two "Hatchery" fires?

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcb ... e-prm.html
The Dude Fire was not the first major wildfire on this ravaged country. The 2,500 acre Robert's Mesa fire burned through in 1961 and the 7,200 acre Hatchery Fire burned through in 1968. Both served as fire breaks limiting the spread of the Dude Fire.

Dudley Lake Fire - 1956

Scorching 21,000 acres of ponderosa pine in 1956, the Dudley Lake Fire is the largest wildfire to date on the Coconino National Forest. It was started by a logging operation in a dry, windy season, and was fueled by a heavy accumulation of logging slash (Schaefer 1957).
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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by Nighthiker » Jul 24 2007 3:39 pm

Very interesting site Chris. I have witnessed three aircraft crashes, Super Connie out at Falcon Field, T-38 at Williams (both ejected safety), T-38 into the Superstitions. I have also heard but did not observe two other crashes, T-38 into a Cliff it what is now White Canyon Wilderness and a civilian aircraft near Heber, pilot was pinned in the wreck and was found alive several days later.
jk

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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by sp369 » Jul 24 2007 11:48 pm

Hi,

I am hiking Horton Creek trail this weekend. Please let me know the trail to the wreckage site. The maps attached suggest that its 'possible' location is towards east of the Creek. Let me know if any one has an update on this.

Thank you.

sp369

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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by arizonawrecks » Jul 25 2007 12:31 pm

SP369,

I am only guessing where that wreck is based on newspaper article info, etc .... I dont know where it is. I marked it on that map as a guess.

Period newspaper articles put the crash in the Williams Creek Area, southeast of the fish hatchery, sw of Prominitory Butte, etc, etc. But they are also describing the location of the "Hatchery Burn" fire itself so I am not sure.

I know the plane crashed inside the burn or right on the edge of it (it was an approx. 500 acre burn).

--> Chris Baird
http://www.arizonawrecks.com

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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by sp369 » Jul 26 2007 3:34 pm

Thank you.

We will try and find the location.Depends on weather and our morale too. I wil update on this space later.

sp369

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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by sp369 » Jul 29 2007 3:19 pm

Well, unfortunately we cancelled the hike due to bad weather in Payson.

I will try and making it next time.


sp369

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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by arizonawrecks » Aug 02 2007 11:36 pm

SP369,

Thanks for the posting. I hope you make it up there before me....HA!

Hard terrain.

Thanks,
Chris B.

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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by Nighthiker » Aug 12 2007 6:10 pm

Talked with a person who has a cabin near Tonto Village and a life long Arizona resident. Apx. 30 years ago he found a crash site of what he called a WW II bomber NNE of Tonto Village. You have mentioned though a C- 180 (Cessna ?) and the T-34 which are smaller aircraft. However he did not elaborate on any information as to the type of aircraft.
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Re: Looking for aircraft wreck site, Horton Creek area, Payson

Post by arizonawrecks » Aug 14 2007 8:01 am

Thanks Nighthiker,

That's very interesting. I bet it was the TBM Avenger torpedo bomber that crashed June 1961 (borate bomber). (and yes, I was talking about a much smaller Cessna 180 over by the hatchery)

Craig Fuller at AAIR (http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/) told me the entire TBM Avenger wreck was in the woods until the early 80s when the aluminum was scrapped out (the huge radial engine remains there though).

I dont personally know of any other WWII bombers crashed in that immediate area but there could be many more.

East of there, near Airplane Flat campground, is a P-51 Mustang crash. I havent looked for that one yet, and it's aluminum is probably scrapped out too. I think it impacted between the campground and the cattle tank called "P-51 Tank" northwest of the campground. It crashed into the trees killing the pilot August, 1948.

Thanks again for the help!

--> Chris B
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