It's the story of an airplane that never should
left the ground, an inexperienced crew struggling against adversity,
finally, of the families they left behind.
Most aircraft accidents occur with little warning. Things are going fine until an engine quits just after takeoff, or the pilot emerges from a low overcast to discover he's heading for touchdown at a 45-degree angle. However, some crash reports unfold like a classical tragedy, with bad decisions and bad breaks piling up so fast that the reader is seldom surprised when the outcome proves fatal. Such was the case when a B-29 Super Fortress on a ferry flight from Hawaii smashed into Central California's Wauhab Ridge in the predawn hours of March 19, 1946, killing all seven aboard.
At war's end in the Pacific, military authorities faced the task of transporting enormous amounts of materiel and thousands of war-weary troops back to the States. The doomed Super Fortress, known by its call sign of "Fox-3960," was one in a flight of five returning Stateside that day for mothball duty. These awesome, long-range bombers — designed to rain destruction on the Japanese homeland from distant island bases -- found themselves without a mission once hostilities had ceased.
So the B-29's came home, not to the hero's
welcome reserved for their flesh-and-blood counterparts, but to a less
genial fate. Some became the backbone of America's air defense in
the early years of the Cold War, before losing their jobs again to the
swift jets of the early fifties; others, like Fox-3960, were destined
await obsolescence in a reserve role, or to become a target at
weapons test facility in the desolate regions of an emerging super
But what's certain is that most of these returning warbirds, like the
they often ferried home, were battle-worn and seldom in the best of
Fox-3960's homecoming flight had been delayed in Kwajalein while its
engine was replaced. It was an omen of things to come.
In the new book "Aircraft Wrecks in The Mountains and Deserts of California" (3rd edition), by G. Pat Macha and Don R. Jordan, you'll read the full story of this tragic flight. Several trips were made to the crash site of this giant bomber to document and photograph what remains.
The story, "So Near, and Yet So Far" will also tell the personal side of the accident. Family members from the pilot and copilot traveled to the mountain where their loved ones perished. Emotions ran high as they caressed the scraps of wreckage left at the scene.
This new book is now available at all retail book
stores, or directly from Don R. Jordan and G. Pat
This story will bring tears to your eyes!
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