Duarte, CA Jetliner - Military Jet Crash, Jun 1971

Jetliner-Military Jet Collision Photo, Jun 1971, submitted by Stu Beitler

49 Die As Marine Fighter Crashes Air West Jetliner

By John Williams
DUARTE, Calif. (UPI) -- An Air West DC9 jetliner disintegrated so utterly after colliding with an F4 Phantom jet and crashing into a mountain that no sizeable[sic] portion may ever be found, a federal investigator said Monday.

All 49 persons aboard the passenger plane, including two infants and five crew members, were killed. The pilot of the Marine fighter-bomber also died but his radarman survived and was in good condition.

The two aircraft collided at 12,000 feet above the San Gabriel range at 6:11 p. m. PDT Sunday on the flight path that scores of planes fly daily on eastbound routes from Los Angeles International Airport which the DC9 had left 10 minutes earlier en route to Salt Lake City.

The Phantom, the marine's fastest and highest flying fighter-bomber with a top speed in excess of 1,600 miles an hour, was returning to its home base at El Toro Marine Air Station after a routine training flight from Fallon AFB, Nev.

A 12-man team of the National Transportation Safety Board flew to the scene from Washington. Chief investigator George Baker said preliminary reports indicated small pieces of wreckage were strewn over miles of rugged terrain at the 3,000 foot level of Mt. Bliss north of Azusa.

"We are going to look into everything that will help us determine why those two planes were in that same piece of air space at the same time," Baker said.

"We are going to check all the ingredients – air speed, altitude, altitude[sic] and so forth."

A heavy fog clinging to the mountains Monday hampered fire department and sherif's[sic] helicopters in ferrying out bodies to a makeshift morgue set up in two tents on the grass of a city park in wund[sic] parties reached the Stone Cabin Flats area where some authorities believed the main part of the plane had crashed but found only small bits of metal. Part of the tail section was located two miles south.

The Phantom fuselage was in Fish Canyon but the body of the pilot, who ejected but was considered almost certain to have died, was not immediately found.

An empty yellow parachute was found on a brush covered hillside but their was no trace of the missing pilot.

The survivor, Marine Lt. CHRISTOPHER E. SCHIESS, 24, Salem, Ore., parachuted and was treated for minor injuries at a Duarte hospital. He declined to talk with sherif's[sic] deputies about what happened.

The Federal Aviation Administration said controllers had the Air West plane on their radarscope "but at no time was the Marine jet observed."

A recorder which the DC9 carried was being sought but it was doubted whether the airliner crew had any warning of the impending collision.

Sheriff's deputies said observers on the ground reported the F4 ripped into the side of the DC9, opening a gaping hole and that "articles" came streaming out of the airliner as it seemed to "float" into the mountainside.

John Paquette, 16, whose home faces the mountains, said he was standing on his front lawn and saw the planes.

"I saw the little plane going down on fire," he said. "Then the big one just glided into the mountain. It made a boom and shook the whole house."

The Fresno Bee Republican California 1971-06-07
Photos courtesy of the excellent site
www.lostflights.org by Mike McComb
Visit this great site


i work at Royal oaks

i work at Royal oaks Elementary "now Academey" down the street from the park, seeing shadows and smelling cigarette smoke a lot lately.. im thinking the new renovation to the school may have triggered something.. is it true the school was used as a morgue? something has to explain what ive been seeing and smelling.

Air crash 71

Always facinates me how we can be chosen to go at anytime? An air rash, car accident or poor health? I think we are hanging on by the skin of our teeth every day so just enjoy life and be as positive as you can. When your times up your times up and there nothing you can do about it? Heartbreaking when small children are involved though! RIP to your brother and everyone else on board! Times a great healer! We can all recover......

I saw it from Glendora

I saw it from Glendora

My father died on that flight

Odd, I happened to do a Google search on Ted Wilkerson, my dad. Found this website and article. I was 4 years old when he died in 1971. I think he had other children not known to me.

Uncle Ted

He was named after 2 presidents: Theodore Woodrow Wilkerson. He was 28, my Uncle and leader of a band (who had all gone home on a previous flight) My mom & he were close and it still affects her horrifically when she thinks about it for too long. Thanks to all of you who shared your experiences, memories and continue to pray for us. You're AWESOME!!

I was one of two eyewitnesses

I was one of two eyewitnesses at the crash site moments after the collision. We cleared brush on a cliff a hundred yards from the fuseloge of the airliner. We also helped coroners mark the bodies before sunset.

I saw it

I saw it

June 1971 Military-DC9 Plane Crash in San Gabriel Mountains

I was thirteen, sitting on my best friend Diana Navarro's front porch that faced North, playing rummy... we both saw the planes collide in mid air, saw the flashes and felt the earth tremble and the windows rattled. I ran all the way up the street to my house and told my Mama and Daddy what I had seen and they all ran out to the front to see. We drove up to Fish Canyon to see if we could help in any way. It was harrowing to see something like that... it was in all of the papers and on the evening news... We prayed for the victims in church and at home. It was traumatic!

'71 Duarte jet collision

Curiously on the previous weekend, after midnight, 1 or 2 military planes flew inverted over the Azusa/Glendora foothills at approx. 1000.' I thought at the time that this was a bit reckless to say the least. One week later this occurs & I've always felt that it was more than coincidence.

plane crash

I remember being at my brothers lil league baseball game I was 8 at a baseball field off huntington dr. In Duarte when I heard a boom , I looked back to the mtns and I could actually see the plane going down will never forget that . Then I remember going to Royal Oaks park in Duarte and seen the helicopters bringing down bodies and laying them at the park.