Missing P-40 Located in Southern Sierra

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Messages 1 - 32 of total 32 in this topic
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 21, 2016 - 04:25pm PT
I decided this needed a separate thread, I was posting it in the 1977 crash thread as a curiosity until Marmot astutely recognized this as the missing P-40. I just got confirmation from the expert, Pat Macha, that I have located the P-40 that has been missing for 72 years.

Jon,

You have located the Curtiss P-40 39-213 flown by 2nd Lt. J.H. Pease. The bailout date is 10/24/41. Your find is historic, and to my knowledge no one who looks for aircraft wrecks has seen this site.
The site should not be disturbed in any way. The site has the protection of the Antiquities Act if it is located on federal land. The prefix number for the P-40 Tomahawk is 87-. An example is 87-23-156, or 87 25 071. 87 is the key prefix.

The missing P-40 flown by Len Lydon is located in Sequoia Kings Canyon Park somewhere close to where he bailed out.

If you have any additional photos Iíd be glad to see them too, and what you have sent are great!

Is there any chance of visiting this site with you sometime this summer?

Thank you for contacting me, I greatly appreciate it.

G. Pat Macha
skcreidc

Social climber
SD, CA
Jun 21, 2016 - 04:33pm PT
Very cool find! After all these years too...
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Jun 21, 2016 - 04:36pm PT
Where exactly did you find it?
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jun 21, 2016 - 04:39pm PT
According to posts and letter, that's the Pease site. It's a known.

that I have located the P-40 that has been missing for 72 years.

What am I missing here?

From Marmot1, other thread...

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=73572&msg=2832825#msg2832825

The first to experience engine problems was Lt. John Pease and he bailed out 15 miles north of Lake Isabella near Wild Rose Canyon. Lt. Pease survived and his P40 was recovered.
Lt. W.H. Burrell's bird crashed north of Bass Lake at Gray's Mountain to which a memorial monument was placed next to the only remaining artifact the engine.
Two others are located in the Sequoia National Forest area. Lt. Jack C. West crashed just west of the Roaring River Ranger Station and survived. Some debris still remains at that location.
Lt. Richard N. Long crashed and wasn't discovered until 1959 southwest of South Guard Lake at 11,200 feet, to which a memorial stone was placed. Some debris still remains at that location.

The fifth bird has never been located, even though many professional wreck hunters searched the Sequoia National Forest area, but never found a clue of its whereabouts.
The pilot, Lt. Leonard C. Lydon, bailed out and survived, but the location of the wreckage remains a mystery today.

re: Pease plane
to my knowledge no one who looks for aircraft wrecks has seen this site -Macha

so it appears we have a bit of conflicting info
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
Jun 21, 2016 - 04:40pm PT
Amazing! Congratulations!
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Jun 21, 2016 - 04:49pm PT
people were running dope in '41?
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jun 21, 2016 - 04:53pm PT
Yes, better to trust an expert (Macha) than a reporter probably.

Marmot1 link...

http://www.sierrastar.com/2010/07/07/52848/searching-sequoias-mount-brewer.html
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 21, 2016 - 05:22pm PT
So I believe what High Fructose Corn Syrup is saying is that
if Pease's P-40 crash site was 15 miles N of Lake Isabella,
and your newly found P-40 crash site is 5 miles N of Kennedy Meadows,
the new one can't be Pease's P-40. (This assumes due N, but might match if NE of Lake Isabella).
But it could be Lydon's.
So why did Pat Macha list serial numbers for Pease's plane?
Did Pat Macha miswrite, and the serial numbers were for Lydon's plane?
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 21, 2016 - 05:53pm PT
I am also confused, I emailed Pat Macha for clarification. I think what I found was bits and pieces at the Pease site based on this article:

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/149355/Mystery-of-the-Nevada-Triangle

Fuller cited another example, that of Lt Leonard C Lydon who parachuted to safety in 1941 after his Army fighter squadron got lost over the mountains.

He saw his P-40 fall within a mile of where he landed in the remote Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.

But to this day the wreckage has never been found.

Edit

Pat got back to me and I think he cleared it up. The Pease plane was recovered and what I found is what remains.

Peaseís plane is not missing, but once the rescue was effected the site was forgotten about. Years later some folks wanted to find Peaseís plane, but the information about itís location was vague at best.
During the Project Tomahawk recovery efforts of the late 1980ís interest in the Pease P-40 ramped up. Lydonís P-40 is somewhere near the Sphinx Crest or Mt. Brewer, and has never been found. Just like
Lt. David Steeves T-33A has never been found in the SEKI area.

In the course of my research I interviewed Jack West and Walt Radovich, both of whom bailed out of P-40ís assigned to the ill-fated flight of 10/24/41. Other P-40 pilotís also stated that once you bail out of the P-40 aircraft
it drops like a rock.

The Pease P-40 may have been seen by hunters and hikers who thought it was just ďanother old plane wreckĒ. The BT-13 that you wrote was removed by the Sierra Club in the late 1970ís. I have photos of it in my archive. There are many other
crash sites in the general area that you were hiking in, mostly light private aircraft.

Hope this clears things up.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 21, 2016 - 06:53pm PT
Cool - thanks for the update / clarification!
Threads like this are great because you find out what people know besides climbing (and not politics...)!
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Jun 21, 2016 - 07:01pm PT
Any pics?
zBrown

Ice climber
Jun 21, 2016 - 07:02pm PT


Nice work and yes indeed, a new thread is warranted.

The guy I used to work for owned this Mustang P-51. I wasn't offered a ride.



EDIT:

RENO

Qualification Rounds (September 9-11, 1996)

John Penney, flying Lyle Shelton's Grumman Barecat "Rare Bear," set the pace in the qualifying rounds by establishing a new course record of 491.266 mph. DGP also let it be known that his modified P-51 "Dago Red" was back in top racing form by qualifying at 490.826 mph.

DGP crashed one year and gave up flying in the races and the plane.

Lorenzo

Trad climber
Portland Oregon
Jun 21, 2016 - 07:13pm PT
The site has the protection of the Antiquities Act if it is located on federal land

Really? The President has declared it a historic or scientifically valuable site?

sounds fishy. Get a real park archeologist if you show anybody.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jun 21, 2016 - 07:22pm PT
Hope this clears things up.

I'm not sure.

Aren't 15 mi n of Isabella and 5 mi north of Kennedy Meadows quite a distance apart.

Jon, your pics are from the 5 mi north of Kennedy Meadows site?

I recently found a crash site in a remote off trail area 5 miles north of Kennedy Meadows. -Jon

The Pease remains are NOT 5 mi N of KM, or are they?


So apparently (a) 5 mi N of Kennedy Meadows and (b) 15 mi N of Isabella are the same locale: the Pease locale. Rough values it seems.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jun 21, 2016 - 07:26pm PT
people were running dope in '41?

Sure.

Marijuana, opium and cocaine were illegal back then. There has always been a drug-abusing element in American society.

For example, right after the Civil War, opium and morphine addiction spiked. The same thing probably happened after World War I.

The anti-marijuana propaganda film, Reefer Madness came out in 1936. The "reefer" back then would have been coming in from Mexico, like it does today.


The sheer volume of today's smuggling operations tremendously dwarf those of 1941, for sure.

But, people have been smuggling drugs and other contraband into the United States since before it was a nation. Florida has been a haven for pirates and smugglers since at least the 17th century.





EDIT:

The guy I used to work for owned this Mustang P-51. I wasn't offered a ride.


How did you expect the pilot to operate the controls, with your sitting on his lap?

That thing only has one seat (unless it's a rare trainer version, or has been modified).
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Jun 21, 2016 - 07:55pm PT
" Lydonís P-40 is somewhere near the Sphinx Crest or Mt. Brewer, and has never been found. Just like Lt. David Steeves T-33A has never been found in the SEKI area."

That's interesting. I was teaching an Outward Bound course along the Silliman Crest back in the 90's, and found a bunch of large caliber ammunition rounds way off trail. After taking some pictures, we turned them over to the SEKI NPS.

Related?
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 21, 2016 - 08:02pm PT
The Steeves story is fascinating

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Steeves

http://www.getouttheremag.com/articles/2943/the-mystery-of-lt-david-steeves
Sula

Trad climber
Pennsylvania
Jun 21, 2016 - 08:23pm PT
Tom posted:
That thing only has one seat (unless it's a rare trainer version, or has been modified).
Many (most of the surviving examples?) have been modified to include a second seat. Many such conversions were done by the Cavalier Aircraft Co.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jun 21, 2016 - 09:33pm PT
All you do is take the fuel tank out behind the pilot's seat and put in
a small one. Then you can charge $1500/hr for rides.
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Jun 21, 2016 - 11:01pm PT
Fruitnuts had a good question?

this whole story sounds contribed
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 21, 2016 - 11:38pm PT
Fruitnuts had a good question?
this whole story sounds contribed
It was a good question, but I think the clarification from Pat Macha in Jon Beck's 5:53pm post answered it -
the original "15 miles N of Lake Isabella" was not an exact location.
The actual exact site of Pease's crash was forgotten, so the above was a rough approximation.
Guernica

climber
dark places
Jun 22, 2016 - 12:54am PT
Sorry for the thread drift here, but apogee, I was in fact on an Outward Bound trip near the Silliman Crest in 96 (I think it was). During the last phase we were attempting Thunder Mountain when a rock rolled over a poor girl's ankle, apparently breaking it and in any case rendering her unable to move. One instructor, a lanky dark haired wild man, stayed with her and the other instructor, a Canadian named Brian (again I think it was), raced off alone to summon help. The rest of us students were actually allowed to complete the last couple days alone, meeting up with the others in the predetermined ending location.

Since you were teaching around then, did you ever hear anything about that?? What happened with the girl?? We did hear a chopper the next day, assuming it was for her...

Awesome find Jon, sorry again to hijack.
Vegasclimber

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
Jun 27, 2016 - 02:04am PT
Holy SH#T man!

As an "aviation archaeologist" (That's what us wreck chasers call ourselves to be fancy-like) I have to hand you a HUGE congratulations on locating this wreck. It's one of many that have languished in my "cold file" for years.

I'm sure that Pat has already explained it, as he's really good at what he does, but please do not post photos that show the location or directions to the wreck site on open media. There are too many people out there who would just tear that wreck apart and there would be nothing left.

Very exciting news. If you haven't already, the folks over at wreckchasing.com would love to hear the tale.


Edit to add - the numbers that Pat was giving, were part number prefixes specific to the P-40 aircraft, not the serial number of the plane itself. That will have to be determined either by location, or by data plates within the wreckage or visible numbers in the paint if any is left.

Edit Edit - The missing T-33 is probably THE Holy Grail of missing Sierra wreck sites. There are a couple other military birds missing, but finding the 33 would be a huge accomplishment.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 13, 2016 - 11:51am PT
Will be going back to the site with a NFS archaeologist in the near future, to document it and hopefully recover some items before they are pilfered. Pat Macha has spoken to the pilot, Col. Pease, 97 years old, the Colonel's son wants to hike out to the site.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jul 13, 2016 - 01:18pm PT
Cool! Amazing the pilot is still around and talking, too!
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jul 13, 2016 - 01:22pm PT
Neat! Iv'e often wondered about planes going missing in places like the Sierra. The forests aren't that fit and satellites seemingly can read the license plate number on the car in your driveway.
Coach37

Social climber
Philly
Jul 13, 2016 - 01:53pm PT
There is a P-40 static display outside the 30th Space Wing HQ, you California types can pop by and have a look at an intact version of this plane. There is another at Dobbins and one at Hanscomb, for you east coasters.
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Jul 13, 2016 - 03:28pm PT
Wow, keep us posted Jon.
BruceHildenbrand

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
Jul 13, 2016 - 07:29pm PT
Not to hijack this thread, but if you have an interest in WWII aircraft recovery here are a couple of interesting stories.

This is a link to the recovery of one aircraft from a flight of P-38's which were crash landed in Greenland.

http://p38assn.org/glaciergirl/index.htm

Here are a couple of links to the attempt to recover a B-29, Kee Bird, which also crash landed in Greenland in 1947 after WWII.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kee_Bird

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1u4YBwjQTds
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 13, 2016 - 07:34pm PT
The Nova documentary about the attempt to fly the B-29 off the ice is very good. Sad ending though, when it catches fire and the crew can do nothing but watch it burn.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Topic Author's Reply - May 21, 2019 - 12:05pm PT
Belated finish to this story. Went back out to the site with 6 others including Col. Pease's son, Pat Macha's son and some others. They did a good job of documenting the remains. One of the people that went with me put together the pictures on a website.

Col. Pease asked us to look for his B-4 bag which contained his wrist watch and other personal items, it was never recovered, he assumed it was left there when the wreck was originally recovered. Would be cool to find that but the bag would have be long gone and the watch would be like finding a needle in a haystack.

http://suntothenorth.blogspot.com/2016/09/more-hidden-history-of-sierras.html
BruceHildenbrand

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
May 21, 2019 - 04:22pm PT
Cool, Jon. Thanks for the update!
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