Crash Site Discoveries 2011 to Present

Total aircraft crash sites reached: 27
MIA personnel accounted for: 279

View Crash Site Discoveries 2003 to 2010

Note: The text below are excerpts from the original Army Air Corps or USAAF accident reports that were filed shortly after the aircraft disappeared.  These archival reports were typically the Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) or Report of Major Accident.  The reports frequently stated the crash site was believed to be “unrecoverable” or “all but impossible to recover”, due to the very remote and rugged terrain where the aircraft crashed.  Employing the services of local tribal guides, I was able to reach and document these crash sites.  Without exception, all the sites were very difficult to reach, often involving many days of trekking from the nearest road and multiple river crossings.

C-46A #42-96721
Found 19 Dec 2021

This aircraft was assigned to the 1333rd AAF Base Unit and was based at Chabua, India.  On 06 Jan 1945, it was on a routine flight from Chabua, India to Kunming, China to deliver cargo.  After unloading its cargo and boarding passengers, the aircraft departed Kunming at 0937Z.  It was given instrument clearance on Charlie course back to Chabua.  On board was a crew of 4 and 9 passengers.

The weather was very bad, with areas of severe turbulence, violent updrafts and cross winds and moderate to severe icing along the entire route.  Rough weather prevailed from 15,000 ft to 38,000 ft with thunderstorms and heavy overcast.  Cloud tops were at 23,000 ft.

At 1420Z, queries on the whereabouts of this aircraft were sent to all aircraft, ground stations and airbases that could have had any information regarding the ship.  As all queries were returned with a negative answer and the tower at Kunming had the last known radio contact with the ship, the aircraft was declared missing in flight.  This aircraft was never heard from again.  It simply disappeared somewhere on the Hump.  The plane’s nickname was Stork.  Dead: 13.

Pilot: 2nd Lt. Sydney L. Murphy
Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Delmar K. Brown
Radio Operator: Cpl. Alvin P. Palecek
Flight Clerk: Pfc. Edmund T. Murphy
Passenger: 1st Lt. William K. Scherer
Passenger: 2nd Lt. Carl D. Moyes
Passenger: T/4 Lee R. Casey
Passenger: T/4 Pryor D. Collings
Passenger: T/4 O.G. Dishman
Passenger: T/4 Robert F. Sherman
Passenger: Sgt. Raymond F. Brunner
Passenger: Sgt. J.V. Dolton
Passenger: Sgt. Kenneth Hart

View the Crashed Aircraft Site Report

Approach
+ 41

 

 

C-47B #43-48368 a.k.a. BuNo 17254
Found 24 Feb 2021

This C-47 aircraft was assigned to the US Military Group – Navy Section, Chile.  It was enroute from its home base at El Belloto Naval Air Station near Vino del Mar, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a stop at Los Cerrillos airport in Santiago for the necessary international clearance.  It departed Los Cerrillos at 2050Z (1650/4:50 PM) on 04 Aug 1969 for Buenos Aires.  There were 4 crewmembers and 12 passengers aboard.  The passengers were US Navy and US Air Force personnel and some of their dependents.

The pilot, CDR Ralph J. Touch, started filling the Flight Plan form, but there was some uncertainty as to whether to file IFR or VFR.  The co-pilot, LCDR James P. Kuhn, continued filling the form and signed it and filed IFR.  The Flight Plan was approved by Pudahuel Air Traffic Control (ATC) and the chosen route was for the aircraft to fly S to Curico, then SE to Cerro Planchon (mountain pass on Chile-Argentina border), then continuing SE to Malargue and then NE to Buenos Aires.  The pilot was to fly at 12,000 ft. altitude until Curico, then climb to 17,000 ft.

Weather conditions were bad, with snow, moderate turbulence up to 14,000 ft. altitude, severe turbulence above 14,000 ft. and ice formation at 5,000 ft.  Wind was from the WNW at 20 knots (approx. 23 mph) below 14,000 ft.  Above that altitude, the winds were 50 knots (approx. 58 mph) and possibly up to 100 knots (approx. 115 mph) to over 20,000 ft.  Chief of Meteorological Station at Los Cerrillos Airport warned CDR Touch to return to Santiago if the Cordillera (Andes Mountains) was closed because of bad weather.  CDR Touch answered: “No, because already I am one day late”.  Note that this flight was originally planned to depart on 03 Aug, but was delayed because of bad weather.

The aircraft reported over Angostura at 1707, flying at 12,000 ft. and estimated to reach Curico at 1733.  One minute after the aircraft communicated this position, the ATC overheard part of a conversation over an open microphone in which the co-pilot was recommending to the pilot that they start climbing to a 14,000 ft. level to avoid bad weather ahead.  At 1715, Santiago Center contacted the aircraft to confirm its altitude, and the aircraft acknowledged it was at 12,000 ft.  This was the last contact with the aircraft.  One minute later, an open microphone was heard from the aircraft for a few seconds, without sound of voice.  All further contact with the aircraft was lost.

The US Navy search for this missing aircraft spanned only 10 days, from 05 Aug 1969 to 14 Aug 1969, and was never resumed.  The search was hampered by 3 to 4 meters of fresh snow, rugged terrain and severe weather conditions.  A total of 162 missions with nearly 1,000 hours were flown.  972 persons assisted in the search effort, involving personnel and aircraft from the US, Chile and Argentina.  The 1969 search area was divided into 5 zones, with the search concentrated in Zones 2 and 3, to the N of Curico.  The USN official conclusion stated the accident was a result of poor weather conditions: “Atmospheric conditions on the Santiago – Curico – Malargue route were such that a flight was not advisable, especially for a C-47 aircraft with limited capability for crossing the Andes Mountains, and even more so if it’s considered that the minimum flight altitude on the Curico – Malargue route is 16,000 ft. and it was icing at 5,000 ft.”  Dead: 16

Pilot: CDR Ralph J. Touch, USN
Co-Pilot: LCDR James P. Kuhn, USN
Radioman: ATC Joe Fernandez, USN
Aircraft Mechanic: ADRC John T. Higgins, USN
Passenger: LCDR Harold L. Mooney, USN
Passenger: TSgt. Robert L. Patterson, Jr., USAF
Passenger: SSgt. Ronnie J. Ball, USAF
Passenger: SSgt. Frank A. Homer, USAF
Passenger: Norma R. Orcutt Ball, Civilian dependent
Passenger: Claudine Cox Fernandez, Civilian dependent
Passenger: Carol Homer, Civilian dependent
Passenger: Shelby Penn Mooney, Civilian dependent
Passenger: Esther Zuluaga Paterson, Civilian dependent
Passenger: Elisabeth/Elizabeth Anne Smith, Civilian dependent
Passenger: Carol Tilton, Civilian dependent
Passenger: Norma Ann Heist Touch, Civilian dependent

View the Crashed Aircraft Site Report

Flight plan
+ 35

 

 

C-54D #42-72469
Found 07 Aug 2020

This US Air Force aircraft from Biggs AFB in El Paso, TX was assigned to the Strategic Air Command (SAC), 8th Air Force, 97th Bomb Wing, 2nd Strategic Support Group, 2nd Squadron.  On 26 Jan 1950, the aircraft departed Elmendorf AFB near Anchorage, AK for Great Falls AFB (now named Malmstrom AFB) in Great Falls, MT.  There were 8 crewmembers and 36 passengers aboard, consisting of 41 USAF personnel and 3 civilians.

The flight plan was for the aircraft to fly E from Elmendorf AFB, across the international border into Yukon Territory (YT) of Canada, then fly SE following the Alcan Hwy through Yukon Territory, continue S through British Columbia and into the US.  The aircraft was to check-in over Snag, YT, then again over Aishihik, YT and Whitehorse, YT before continuing S into British Columbia.

Last position given by the aircraft was over Snag Radio at 2309 Z (1609 PDT/4:09 PM PDT), on course for Aishihik, cruising at 10,000 ft. altitude and with tailwinds of 52-70 knots (approx. 60-80 mph).  Nothing further was heard from the aircraft.

With 44 persons aboard, this was probably the largest unresolved missing aircraft case in North American aviation history.  A massive joint US-Canada search effort, codenamed Operation Mike, was promptly launched when the C-54 failed to check-in over Aishihik or Whitehorse.  It was believed the aircraft entered instrument flying conditions shortly after passing Snag.  Heavy icing conditions were reported over Snag at the time, along with 50 knot (approx. 58 mph) winds from the NE.  The winds were more extreme aloft, possibly reaching 70 knots (approx. 80 mph).

Extensive air searches were conducted from Snag down the flight plan airway to Watson Lake in SE Yukon Territory and to Ft. Nelson in NE British Columbia.  Additionally, numerous leads were submitted to authorities by local citizens, but none of the leads produced any evidence of the C-54’s location.

There were 3 days of continuous snowfall after the aircraft’s disappearance.  Search efforts were hampered by the heavy snowfall, then by extreme cold, ice fog and haze.  The air search effort mainly utilized C-47 aircraft.  Unfortunately, C-47 aircraft lack sufficient visibility from their few and small windows, and this significantly reduced the coverage factor and thoroughness of their search sweeps.  Report of Major Accident for this aircraft loss emphasized the majority of mountain peaks in the southern Yukon area were not searched immediately because the base of the cloud cover was below the mountaintop level.  This delay of some days while waiting for the cloud cover to dissipate and visibility to adequately improve would have allowed time for the wreckage to become buried under fresh snowfall or avalanches and no longer be visible by the time those areas could be searched by air.

It must be noted that large snow avalanches regularly sweep down the flanks of these mountains during the winter and spring months.

Searchers believed the area of highest probability for finding the missing C-54 was a 100-mile wide strip of the flight plan airway from Snag to Whitehorse, YT.  With 50 knot (approx. 58 mph) winds from the NE and the failure of the aircraft to check-in over Aishihik or Whitehorse, it’s very probable the C-54 was blown off-course to the W and into the St. Elias Mountains, where it crashed in rugged terrain laced with permanent glaciers.  Severe icing and/or violent winds were probably the cause of the crash.  Research indicates the crash site area is the Burwash Glacier along the NE flank of Mount Hoge.  This area is approx. 12  mi. W of Burwash Landing and approx. 75 mi. WSW from Aishihik.  There is no record of this area being searched during Operation Mike or at any time thereafter.

The search effort started closing down on 17 Feb 1950 and was officially suspended on 20 Feb 1950.  Dead: 44.

  • Senior Pilot: 1st Lt. Kyle E. McMichael
  • Pilot: 1st Lt. Mike Tisik
  • Co-Pilot: Maj. Gerald F. Brittain
  • Navigator: 1stLt. Joseph W. Metzler
  • Radio Operator: SSgt. Clarence A. Gibson
  • Crew Chief/Engineer: MSgt. Clyde A. Streitmann
  • Crew Chief/Engineer: TSgt. Harry W. McConegley
  • Crew Chief/Engineer: SSgt. Raymond H. Snow
  • Passenger: Capt. Frank E. Gregory
  • Passenger: TSgt. Jack P. Faris
  • Passenger: SSgt. Robert Ahearn
  • Passenger: SSgt. Jack E. Dickerson
  • Passenger: SSgt. Burnis T. Lively
  • Passenger: SSgt. Raymond G. Mangold
  • Passenger: SSgt. John J. McDonald
  • Passenger: SSgt. Clinton T. Tompkins
  • Passenger: Sgt. Ray L. Asel
  • Passenger: Sgt. Donald W. Dagl
  • Passenger: Sgt. Noel B. Jones
  • Passenger: Sgt. Roy F. Jones
  • Passenger: Sgt. Junior Lee Moore
  • Passenger: Sgt. Harold R. Noell
  • Passenger: Sgt. Tommy E. Rhoads
  • Passenger: Sgt. Julian C. Thomas
  • Passenger: Cpl. Albie P. Baughman
  • Passenger: Cpl. Jeff D. Johnson
  • Passenger: Cpl. Henry S. Kerchner
  • Passenger: Cpl. Raymond H. Matheny
  • Passenger: Cpl. Bernard Portrey
  • Passenger: Cpl. Richard L. Suggs
  • Passenger: Cpl. Thomas J. Young
  • Passenger: Pfc. John A. Chalopka
  • Passenger: Pfc. Charles W. Cook
  • Passenger: Pfc. Billie C. Cummins
  • Passenger: Pfc. Francis D. Hofer
  • Passenger: Pfc. Herman L. Lawson
  • Passenger: Pfc. Loyd E. Lowry
  • Passenger: Pfc. William W. Cranor
  • Passenger: Pvt. Robert M. Hiatt
  • Passenger: Pvt. Blake F. Maxwell
  • Passenger: Pvt. Robert J. Reitmeyer
  • Passenger: Eldon V. Dolansky – Civilian technician
  • Passenger: Joyce M. Espe – Civilian dependent
  • Passenger: Victor E. Espe – Civilian dependent

View the Crashed Aircraft Site Report

Mount Hoge and Burwash Glacier
+ 51

 

 

B-25D #41-30362
Recovered Nov-Dec 2019

On 10 Dec 1943, this aircraft was on a rescue mission over Burma when it was attacked by Japanese Zero fighter aircraft.  The B-25 tried to escape by flying westerly into India, but was pursued by the enemy aircraft.  The right engine caught fire after the main attack.  The crew feathered the propeller, but as they did that, a Zero that had been pursuing them shot out their left engine, setting the aircraft afire.  The pilot, Capt. John Porter, gave the order to bailout.  Only the co-pilot, 2nd Lt. James Spain, had his parachute on when the bailout order was given.  Lt. Spain’s clothes or parachute got caught while he was trying to exit the overhead hatch in the cockpit, and he was freed at the last moment by Capt. Porter pushing him out.  Lt. Spain reported the aircraft was entirely in flames by the time he exited, and it crashed and exploded about the time he deployed his parachute moments later.  No other crewmembers survived.  Dead: 5.

  • Pilot: Capt. John L. Porter
  • Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. James F. Spain
  • Radio Operator: SSgt. Walter R. Oswalt
  • Flight Engineer: Sgt. Harold W. Neibler
  • Gunner: SSgt. Harry D. Tucker
  • Passenger: Maj. Ralph L. Dewsnup

Note: Bolded name is that of sole survivor of this crash.

View the Crashed Aircraft Recovery Report

View the Crashed Aircraft Site Report

Recovery
+ 32

 

 

C-53 #42-6479 a.k.a. RAF #MA929
Found 25 Dec 2017

This aircraft was assigned to the 31st Squadron RAF at Palam, India.  Information about the aircraft loss is limited and conflicting.  Aviation Safety Network reports the aircraft departed Dinjan, India for Fort Hertz, Burma at 1330 hrs. on 31 Jan 1943.  The aircraft failed to arrive at its destination and has not been located.  It was reportedly last seen by a Hudson pilot at 1400 hrs., flying at 7,000 ft. near Kamku, India and heading for Fort Hertz.  However, this may have been an erroneous sighting because the crash site was found approx. 60 mi. NNW of Kamku.  The C-47 reference book, The First Seventy Years by Jennifer Gradidge, reports the aircraft as missing in flight on 27 Jan 1943 while enroute from Tezpur, India to Dinjan, India.  Either flight route could plausibly explain the crash site location.  Dead: 6.

  • 1st Pilot: F/O Hugh John Munro Campbell MiD RAAF
  • 2nd Pilot: F/Sgt. John Orson Nicholls RAFVF
  • W.Op./Air Gunr: W/O Kenneth Ross Phelps RAAF
  • W.Op./Air Gunr: W/O2 Joseph Jean Jacques Fernand Casaubon RCAF
  • Fitter llE: AC1 Thomas Gladstone Williamson RAFVF
  • Passenger: F/Lt. Norman Lee Baugh MC RAF

View the Crashed Aircraft Site Report

Crash site in valley at base of Siirundi Mtn.
+ 43

 

 

C-87 #41-23669
Found 07 Dec 2014

This aircraft was reported as missing in flight on 07 May 1943 while enroute from Yangkai, China to Chabua, India.  There was no radio contact with the aircraft.  Last report in Aug 1944 lists both the aircraft and crew still unaccounted for.  The aircraft was assigned to the Air Transport Command, 1st Ferry Group, 3rd Ferry Squadron.  Dead: 6.

  • Pilot: 1st Lt. Anthony Donabedian
  • Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Raymond C. Ziolkowski
  • Navigator: 1st Lt. Paul F. Heck
  • Radio Operator: Sgt. Raymond Plot
  • Crew Chief: Sgt. George L. Beeves, Jr.
  • Asst. Crew Chief: Sgt. Lyndal E. Daniel

View the Crashed Aircraft Site Report

Wreckage
+ 39

 

 

B-25D #41-30362
Found 09 Nov 2011

On 10 Dec 1943, this aircraft was on a rescue mission over Burma when it was attacked by Japanese Zero fighter aircraft.  The B-25 tried to escape by flying westerly into India, but was pursued by the enemy aircraft.  The right engine caught fire after the main attack.  The crew feathered the propeller, but as they did that, a Zero that had been pursuing them shot out their left engine, setting the aircraft afire.  The pilot, Capt. John Porter, gave the order to bailout.  Only the co-pilot, 2nd Lt. James Spain, had his parachute on when the bailout order was given.  Lt. Spain’s clothes or parachute got caught while he was trying to exit the overhead hatch in the cockpit, and he was freed at the last moment by Capt. Porter pushing him out.  Lt. Spain reported the aircraft was entirely in flames by the time he exited, and it crashed and exploded about the time he deployed his parachute moments later.  No other crewmembers survived.  Dead: 5.

  • Pilot: Capt. John L. Porter
  • Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. James F. Spain
  • Radio Operator: SSgt. Walter R. Oswalt
  • Flight Engineer: Sgt. Harold W. Neibler
  • Gunner: SSgt. Harry D. Tucker
  • Passenger: Maj. Ralph L. Dewsnup

Note: Bolded name is that of sole survivor of this crash.

View the Crashed Aircraft Site Report

View the Crashed Aircraft Recovery Report

Crash site on slope in rear-center
+ 32

 

 

C-46A #41-24708
Found 01 Nov 2011

This aircraft departed Mohanbari, India at 0423 GMT on 31 Jan 1944 for Kunming, China on a routine cargo flight over the Hump.

The route was overcast with cloud tops above 24,000 ft.  Winds were out of the SW and estimated to be 70 mph at 18,000 ft.  About 50% of the flight would have been flown on instruments and was further complicated by high winds.

There is no record of radio contact from the aircraft.  The last known position, cause or nature of the aircraft loss is not known.  It is believed the crash may have been caused by bad weather, mechanical failure or a sudden catastrophic event.  The cause of the crash was probably so sudden and so severe that the pilot didn’t have time to radio a mayday call.  The pilot had made 35 roundtrips on this route.  The aircraft has not been found and the crew has been declared dead.  Dead: 4.

  • Pilot: Capt. Alvin Catalano
  • Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Robert F. Kearns
  • Radio Operator: Pfc. John W. Briggette
  • Flight Engineer: Cpl. John W. Sadler

View the Crashed Aircraft Site Report

Crash site on green slope in rear-center
+ 29

 

 

C-47DL #41-18556 a.k.a. CNAC #60
Found 29 Sept 2011

This CNAC aircraft was enroute from Kunming, China to Dinjan, India on 17 Nov 1942. It was on a routine mission over the Hump back to its homebase.

The aircraft was loaded with tin billets in Kunming for transport to India.  Kunming tower notified pilot that there was an incoming attack by Japanese aircraft, and pilot should quickly depart to prevent his aircraft from being destroyed or damaged in the impending attack.  The aircraft hurriedly departed Kunming before the cargo of tin billets could be completely secured.

On Able route, about 1 hr. out from Kunming and slightly SE of Likiang, the aircraft was already icing badly.  Pilot, John Dean, radioed Kunming-bound CNAC pilot Robbie Robertson that #60 was icing badly and asked Robertson about weather on the more southerly Charlie route that Robertson had just flown.  Robertson replied he experienced no icing on Charlie route and saw no Japanese aircraft.  This was the last known radio contact with #60.

The aircraft did not arrive in Dinjan and was reported as Missing in Flight.  No trace of this aircraft or its crew has been found.  Dead: 3.

  • Pilot: John J. Dean
  • Co-Pilot: James S. Browne
  • Radio Operator: K.L. Yang

View the Crashed Aircraft Site Report

View the C47DL #41-18556 a.k.a. CNAC #60 ID Reference

View the article The Last Flight of CNAC #60

Summit ridge
+ 23

 

 

B-24J #42-73242
Found 04 Jan 2011

On 25 Jan 1944, this aircraft departed Kunming, China for Chabua, India on a routine ferrying mission.  The aircraft was assigned to the 14th Air Force, 308th Bombardment Group, 425th Squadron.

The aircraft never arrived in Chabua.  The cause of the crash and its whereabouts is unknown.  Dead: 12.

  • Pilot: Maj. Harry H. Musinski
  • Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Toney W. Gochnauer
  • Navigator: 2nd Lt. John B. Frazier
  • Bombardier: 2nd Lt. George R. Maupin
  • Radio Operator: TSgt. Joseph P. Kurta
  • Asst. Radio Operator: SSgt. Donah L. Adams
  • Flight Engineer: TSgt. Wellington W. Hull
  • Asst. Flight Engineer: SSgt. John W. Karns
  • Passenger: 1st Lt. Charles P. Mortimer
  • Passenger: TSgt. Jack R. Ferguson
  • Passenger: TSgt. Edward W. Higgins
  • Passenger: SSgt. Robert O. Watson

View the Crashed Aircraft Site Report

View the letter about Haley’s Comet

Wreckage
+ 26

 


View Crash Site Discoveries 2003 to 2010

Important Notice:​ These MIA expeditions are mostly self-funded by Clayton Kuhles.  No funding assistance is received from the US government.  If you believe this is a worthwhile humanitarian project that needs to be pursued, then please visit the Funding page on this website to see how easy it is to support this project in a meaningful manner.  MIA Recoveries, Inc is a tax-exempt public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  EIN: 45-3174718.  Funding donations to MIA Recoveries, Inc are deductible under section 170 of the Code.