Lone Pine, CA Plane Crashes On Mt. Whitney, Feb 1969
35 ABOARD LOST L.A.-NEVADA PLANE.
AIRLINER MISSING ON CASINO FLIGHT.
Hawthorne, Nev. (AP) -- A plane carrying 35 persons back to Southern California after a night of Nevada gambline vanished Tuesday in the mountainous desert of the California-Nevada border 200 miles north of Los Angeles.
An all-day ground hunt in a drizzling overcast produced no clues, and only one search plane was able to get aloft.
A rancher 60 miles south of Hawthorne reported he heard a low-flying plane at 4:20 a.m. The Civil Air Patrol sent two ground search teams into the area.
"It sounds good. It is a good lead," said Col. JAMES HELM of the CAP Walker Lake Squadron.
The propeller-driven DC3 last reported routinely by radio over Mina, Nev., at 4:05 a.m. shortly after taking off from Hawthorne.
The search did not get underway for nearly six hours.
Due In Burbank.
GENE KROPF, public affairs officer at the Federal Aviation Administration's regional office in Los Angeles, said the plane was due at Burbank, Calif., at 6:03 a.m. Following routine procedure, the FAA began checking at 6:41 a.m.
KROPF said the FAA called the operators -- Mineral County Airlines, doing business as Hawthorne Nevada Airlines -- at 7:53 a.m.
"We were told by a man who called himself the manager of the line that the plane was safely in Long Beach," KROPF said.
"At 9:51 a.m. the line called back and said the plane was overdue. We notified Hamilton Air Force Base." The base coordinates air rescue and search operations.
The plane, with a crew of three and 14 passengers from Long Beach and 18 from Burbank, had made the regular Monday night flight to Barney's Casino near Hawthorne, 120 miles south of Reno.
The passengers $10 round trip fare included dinner, entertainment and seven hours of gaming.
About 4 a.m. Tuesday the party took off for Burbank and Long Beach.
Neither the line nor the casino could furnish a list of those aboard.
Air line officials were not available for comment on the FAA report.
The area where the plane was presumed to have crashed is generally barren high mountains and desert valleys.
Mina has an altitude of 4,600 feet, but directly south lie the snowy Excelsior mountains, more than 9,000 feet.
Boundary Peak, highest in Nevada, towers 13,145 feet some 30 miles south of Mina on the direct route south to Burbank.
Star-News Pasadena California 1969-02-19
NEVADA WILDS SEARCHED FOR LOST CASINO PLANE.
Hawthorne, Nev. (UPI) -- Ground parties searched through a vast, desolate area of western Nevada Wednesday for an airline "gamblers special" that vanished with 35 persons aboard during a snowstorm.
The twin-engine DC3 was presumed down in the mountains near the California-Nevada border. Peaks rise to more than 14,000 feet in the sparsley populated area dotted with ghost towns.
The ground party of more than 80 men in a fleet of 38 jeeps and widetrack vehicles attempted to check out three reports of low flying aircraft about the time the airliner disappeared. They were hampered by drifts from the storm that dropped 2 1/2 feet of snow in two days.
The Air Force managed to send up four search planes but more than two dozen light planes from the Nevada and California Civil Air Patrol were grounded at several airports because of the storm.
"The craft probably hit a mountain," speculated Lt. Col. JAMES HELM of the Nevada CAP.
"If the plane was in trouble the pilot would have radioed, but there was no contact with the ground after the pilot filed his flight plan shortly after takeoff."
HELM said the pilot, FRED HALL of San Fernando Valley, had flown the route between this gambling town and Southern California "more than a 1,000 times in eight years." He described HALL as "one of the best pilots in the business."
The search centered in an area from 40 to 100 miles south of Hawthorne.
"We had three possible leads reported during the night which the ground parties are trying to check out," said a spokesman for the Western Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Center at Hamilton AFB near San Francisco. The leads came from ranchers who reported hearing a plane and a possible explosion early Tuesday.
"I heard a plane going over about 4 a.m.," said ARCH BARNARD of the Cemo Ranch south of Dyer. "Then, there was an explosion like a plane going through the sound barrier."
Dyer is a small community about 50 miles south of Hawthorne where the airliner took off on the return leg of a flight that originated in Southern California. The DC3 carried 32 passengers and a crew of three.
The plane, civilian version of the reliable C47 of World War II, was one of three operated by Mineral County Airlines for nightly gambling excursions to Hawthorne's El Casitan casino. The flight cost $10 and included dinner and cocktails.
Hawthorne, Nevada Airlines today released the following list of passengers and crew aboard its DC3 plane lost on a flight from Hawthorne to Burbank and Long Beach, Calif.
Boarded at Long Beach:
MRS. JACK UPLINGER.
MRS. WILLIAM PREDER.
J. H. PAGET.
MRS. J. H. PAGET.
Boarded at Burbank:
MRS. D. SWIGER.
FRED HALL (Pilot).
RAY HAMER (Co-pilot).
PAT NANNES (Stewardess).
Star-News Pasadena California 1969-02-19
(Transcriber's Note: The wreckage of this aircraft was located near Lone Pine, California. If flew into the side of Mt. Whitney at the 11,800 foot elevation. All died in the crash. The wreckage was recovered on August 8, 1969.)