Duarte, CA Jetliner - Military Jet Crash, Jun 1971

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

LA Jetliner, Fighter Crash In Air; 50 Die

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A jetliner carrying 49 persons cartwheeled "like a shooting star" into a mountain region and exploded after a collision with a Marine jet fighter. The only known survivor was one of the two crewmen aboard the military plane.

The Sunday night crash of the Hughes Air West DC9 was the worst civilian plane disaster in California history. And it was the first crash in the United States of a scheduled airliner in more than a year.

The radar interception officer of the Marine F4 Phantom jet parachuted to safety after the in-flight collision east of here.

He was the only reported survivor, but a helicopter pilot later reported sighting a parachute which he said he believed to be that of the pilot of the F4. It was sighted near the wreck of the fighter plane.

Ed Spruill, a county fire battalion chief who spent the night on the mountain, said the survivor told him the naval plane saw the other craft and attempted an evasive maneuver but it was too late.

Nine bodies were spotted from helicopters in the wreckage of the twin-engine airliner, which crashed into a deep gorge in two pieces and was still smoldering hours after the disaster.

Wreckage was spread over a mile-square, tree-studded area.

Fire officials and sheriff's deputies who flew over the wreckage before darkness fell said they were convinced no one aboard the DC9 could have survived.

A thick fog prevented sheriff's search and rescue teams from climbing down a cliff to the airliner or reaching the fighter during the night.

A sheriff's spokesman said the terrain "rugged beyond belief just to hike" requires use of ropes to climb down steep cliffs to the crash site.

Most Rugged Area.
"It may take two or three days to get all the bodies out," said Dr. James Kono of the Los Angeles County coroner's office. All the bodies will have to be brought out by helicopter in separate baskets, he said, because the "closest we can land the helicopter is 800 yards from the crash scene."

Because of night and morning fog, the airlift might not start until about noon, Kono said.

The crash occurred over the mountainous Van Tassel Canyon area of Angeles National Forest. Authorities described the region "the most rugged area in Los Angeles County and perhaps in California."

The Air West airliner, Flight 706 carrying 46 passengers and a five-man crew, had taken off from Los Angeles International Airport only 18 minutes before the collision. It was en route to Salt Lake City, Boise and Lewiston, Idaho, and Pasco, Wash.

The F4 was flying from Fallon Air Force Base in Nevada to its home base at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station near suburban Santa Ana.

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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.