Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West
(3) F4F-4 2/13/42
The Japanese attack on December 7, 1941 triggered an immediate need to move military assets to the West coast of the U.S. where they could be shipped to the rapidly expanding Pacific Theatre of Operations. On February 13, 1942 a flight of four U.S. Navy Grumman F4F-4 fighter departed Tucson, Arizona en route to Naval Air Station North Island near San Diego, California. The weather conditions that this ill-fated flight encountered included a fast moving winter storm that brought rain and snow to the mountains of eastern San Diego County.
Into to this maelstrom flew four Grumman Wildcats flown by Ensign Carl W. Peterson in Bu No 5044, Ensign Julian Locke D’Este in Bu No 5046, Ensign Charles D. Davy in Bu No 5049, and Ensign Samuel Kime in Bu No 5053. Only one of the F4F-4’s reached civilization when Ensign Davy force landed on a roadway near the small town of Ramona some thirty plus miles northeast of San Diego and his destination of North Island Naval Air Station. Ensign Davy sustained only minor injuries, but his factory fresh Wildcat was damaged. as result Ensign Davy was written up for negligence, even though he managed to fly through the storm, and was the only survivor of this four plane flight.
More about the crash site here.
On 2/13/42 a flight of five Navy Grumman F4F Wildcats were on a ferry flight from Tucson, Arizona to San Diego, California. Along the way, the flight entered bad weather conditions consisting of extremely rough air and severe icing conditions. Out of the five airplanes in the flight, one of them #5049 with pilot Ensign Charles D. Davy was able to land on a dirt road damaging the plane, but without injuries to himself. Three of the others, #5044 with pilot Ensign Carl W. Peterson, #5046 with pilot Ensign Julian Locke D’Este and #5053 with pilot Ensign Samuel Kime crashed in the mountains killing the pilots. All three of these airplanes went missing and were found at a much later date. #5046 was found on 6/1/52 by two men that were searching for Indian relics in one the canyons. #5044 and #5053 were found on 3/26/57 by two surveyors of the State Division of Beaches and Parks. They found wreckage and skeletal remains of the two pilots in a deep ravine.
The crash site visited on this hike was that of Ensign Julian Locke D’Este’s F4F-3A #5046.
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