White Mountain, CA (near Burbank) Plane Crashes Into Mountainside, Nov 1946



Burbank, Nov. 14. -- (U.P.) -- A fleet of 10 airplanes, supported by ground crews with walkie-talkies, took off in the midst of a rain storm to comb 500 square miles of foothills for a Western Airlines transport that vanished more than 24 hours ago with 11 persons aboard.
Shortly before search crews under direction of Sheriff's Lieut. SEWELL GRIGGERS were to take the air, rain began to fall and so obscured visibility that GRIFFERS ordered a postponement.
Low Ceilings.
"With this kind of soup, we couldn't get down into those low canyons where we will have to concentrate our search," he said.
A short while later, he ordered the search to begin, explaining that "we'll hunt where we can now, and spread out if the storm lifts."
Ceilings in the search area were reported between 5000 and 7000 feet shortly after the planes took off.
Ground search headquarters, equipped with two-way radio communication, was established at Newhall, 30 miles northwest of here.
Father Joins Search.
CARTHEO W. MILLER, 59, Huntington Beach, Calif., father of the missing pilot, GARRETT J. MILLER, 34, Van Nuys, Calif., was to fly in one of the search planes.
Three WAL pilots, all friends of young MILLER, stood by to join in the search with their personal planes. They were Capts. E. MUSSELMAN, J. KEELEY and E. K. HERTFORD.
The missing transport plane vanished into a blinding rainstorm before dawn yesterday, less than five minutes from a landing at Lockheed Air Terminal.
Sent Across Town.
The pilot reported he was encountering storm flurries and was instructed to land at Municipal airport, across town and near the ocean.
Five Western Air Lines planes and five craft from the sheriff's aero detail were to lead the search, reporting all tips to forestry lookout stations to check, and relaying on army and civilian ground searchers for further aid.
WAL officials feared the transport might have been engulfed in a sudden squall after acknowledging the order, and that it might have crashed against the mountains which loom perilously close to the San Fernando valley terminal. They admitted they were baffled by the disappearance less than five minutes from populous Los Angeles and Hollywood.
No Ocean Crash.
Airline officials discounted the possibility the plane could have crashed into the ocean. They said the pilot was too familiar with the region to have missed municipal airport by so far.
They also pointed out that he undoubtedly would have made another radio contact if he had stayed aloft long enough to have reached the ocean. Flying time from Burbank to minicipal airport is 12 minutes.

The San Mateo Times California 1946-11-14




Burbank, Nov. 15. -- (AP) -- Western Air Lines spokesmen said today they had definitely established the wreckage of an aircraft signted on the rocky slope of White mountain on the Ridge route 50 miles north of here was their passenger plane which vanished early Wednesday with 11 aboard.
There were no signs of life in the still smouldering debris, said C. N. JAMES, Western Air vice president, who flew as low as 200 feet over the scene in a DC-3, identical to the wrecked ship.
Near Ridge Route.
"I could distinctly see the big 'W' on the tail," JAMES reported, "although I was unable to distinguish the numerals. I'm afraid there's no doubt it is our plane."
The scene of the wreck was described as about 12 miles north of Gorman and about four miles off the ridge route, inland highway to San Francisco. The site of the crash was belileved about 5,000 feet elevation.
The wreckage was first sighted by two Western Airline pilots, Capt. MAX KRALL and Capt. JIM CONERY, from a training plane in which they were cruising slowly over the rugged mountain terrain.
No Life.
"There was no sign of life," KRALL said. "I distinctly saw the tail section of the plane. I'm sure it was ours."
KRALL said on his return here that brush and scrub timber around the plane were "smouldering," leading to the supposition that the airliner had exploded and burned and affording even less hope that any of the occupants survived.
He described the wreckage as being near Snowy Peak, about four miles off the Ridge route. The place was described by KRALL and his companion, JIM CONERY, as being about 12 miles north of Gorman, a small mountain settlement just south of Lebec.
Sheriff On Way.
Sheriff's posses were immediately organized at the Newhall substation and left at once for the site. They took with them several pack horses in trucks for the possible grim task of removing bodies.
Search headquarters immediately dispatched a fleet of other planes to check the report, and ground crews were being moved in with medical equipment, supplies and stretchers in case any of the eight passengers and three crewmen are found alive.
Lebec is on the higher reaches of the Ridge route, one of the highways leading north to San Francisco, and was heavily covered with snow in the recent three-day storm. Searchers said GARRELL J. MILLER, pilot of the missing DC-3, could easily have wandered that far off his course in the heavy weather which prevailed when the ship vanished, or could, for some reason, have been seeking a landing field north of here.

The San Mateo Times California 1946-11-15