Gustine, CA Mail Plane Crashes, Apr 1927

WRECKAGE OF LOST AIRPLANE LOCATED.

MISSING AVIATOR AND PASSENGER FOUND DEAD IN RUINS.

FLYERS CRUSHED TO DEATH BY MAIL SHIP IN CRASH NEAR MODESTO IN SWAMP.

FORCED LANDING IN DARKNESS PROVES FATAL TO TWO MEN IN CALIFORNIA SERVICE.

San Francisco, April 6. -- (AP) -- EDWARD NEHER, pilot, and ALFRED SCHALLER, passenger aboard the air mail plane that crashed to earth three miles from Gustine, were crushed to death when the plane made a forced landing, struck a pool of water and turned over.

Modesto, Cal., April 6. -- (AP) -- The wrecked airplane found near Gustine, thirty miles southwest of Modesto this morning has been positively identified as that piloted by EDWARD NEHER, air mail aviator. The bodies of both NEHER, and ALBERT SCHALLER, office manager of the Pacific Transport Company, have also been identified, according to word received by the News-Herald at noon today from Gustine.

Mail Found In Wreckage.
The sacks of mail NEHER was carrying on his fatal northward flight from Fresno to San Francisco were found in the wreckage. Both the bodies were badly mangled and it was with some difficulty that they were extricated from the wreckage. A flashlight was found clutched in NEHER'S hand.
NEHER came to his death but a short distance from his home city, Turlock, where he had lived five years before entering the air mail service. He was last seen flying over Turlock about five o'clock Sunday morning.

Landed In Darkness.
Finding of a flashlight in NEHER'S hand leads to the belief that he was forced to make a landing in the darkness.
The plane apparently landed right side up and then turned over about one hundred feet from where it first struck the ground.
The bodies will be taken to Merced and placed in charge of the county coroner.

Ranch Man Finds Plane.
A man named BRIGGS, cattle boss for the MILLER and LUX ranches, reported to the Modesto News-Herald this morning the finding of the wrecked airplane near Gustine.
Gustine is on the route usually followed by air mail ships on their way from Fresno to San Francisco.

Reno Evening Gazette Nevada 1927-04-06

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Comments

Air Mail Crash

This was my grandfather's brother- his name was actually Edgar A.A. Neher. This is the first article I could find on the internet about this crash. It was written up in the papers of the time from the time he went missing April 3,1927- literally hours after they failed to show in San Francisco to days after it was found on April 6, 1927. He had been a pilot for almost a decade at the time of the crash. But I can't find anything on this crash. The owner of the company later joined with Boeing and eventually they became United Airlines. I think they wanted to keep this highly pulicized crash quiet along. The company was Pacific Air Transport and they lost 6-7 planes within about six months of initiating operations. They were mostly Ryan M1's like this one.

Alfred Schaller

I am editing a book of travel letters by Dorothea Schaller Bonavito, only daughter of Alfred Schaller who was killed on that plane. Mr. Schaller apparently was the office manager for Pacific Air Transport. I have his business card and Dot' memories that her father was killed in a plane crash in 1927, I am not sure that helps you very much. These were the pioneering days of aviation.

Sallie CRENSHAW