Mount Yale, CO Bomber Crash, Sep 1956

Mt. Yale COL plane wreckage 9-24-1956.jpg Mt. Yale COL plane wreckage 9-24-1956 2.jpg Mt. Yale COL plane wreck site.jpg




Salida, Colo. (AP) -- An Air Force C-47 crashed into the rocky north face of 14,172-foot Mt. Yale in southwest Colorado Monday, and undersheriff Harold Thornoff said a ground party found 12 charred bodies in the burned wreckage.
The plane was attached to Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) at Colorado Springs, Colo., and was bound for Hamilton Air Force Base near San Francisco.
Col. Barney Oldfield, public information officer, said the twin-engine plane left Colorado Springs' ENT Air Force Base at 10 a.m. and was due at Hamilton AFB at 4 p.m. Its failure to arrive there, plus the partial numerical identification, helped establish its identity.
Oldfield said 12 persons, including one woman in service, were aboard the plane. They included both military and civilian personnel.
Despite the fact one occupant still was unaccounted for at the crash scene, Oldfield said it was presumed all were killed.
The undersheriff said the 12 bodies, all burned beyond recognition, were found strewn among a huge rockslide above timberline near the Continental Divide 120 airline miles southwest of Denver.
Seven members of the ground party traveled five hours to reach the remote crash scene at about the 11,000-foot level.
They said one wing of the plane bore the number 34846. The prefix AF normally is used for Air Force planes, but this apparently was burned off the wreckage, thus delaying indentification of the craft.
The undersheriff said deputy sheriff Frank Mansheim and Coroner Joseph Stewart intended to remain overnight at the scene and that no attempt would be made to remove the bodies until Air Force officials arrive.

Continued on Page 2.


Yale Plane Crash


So sorry about the long delay in writing back to you, but just now saw your reply to me. My dad was in the 10th Mtn Division at Camp Hale, but that was back in WWII, but left the military in 1945. The day of the crash, a local Buena Vista resident, Ronald Little, an equipment operator for the Chaffee County Road Crew saw the plane coming across the Upper Arkansas Valley and saw stopped at the time, so he watched the plane and witnessed the plane do the death dive, straight down to it's fateful resting place. He quickly drove to town to report what he saw to the Chaffee County Sherriff's Office and that put the locals busy to getting a rescue team together. My dad at the time was Postmaster in BV and it was a possibility of the plane carrying mail, so he offered to go along with the members authorized by the Chaffee County Sheriff's office as the rescue team. They actually put together 2 different rescue teams and they took different routes to the wreckage, as the exact location was not known. One crew took in pack horses and the crew my dad went in with, just hiked in. After arrival at the scene it was obvious that no one had survived and they set out to identifying the members of the fateful flight, By evening they had identified almost all the members. That night the Chaffee County Rescue Crews stayed on scene and spent the night. My dad says that he slept the best he had ever, while camping. He was very warm and toasty in his sleeping bag, until another member woke him up and told him his sleeping bag was on fire. OOOOOPS, I guess they were sleeping too close to the wreckage and hadn't put out all the hot spots. A couple months ago I talked to another local, Bryce Kelly and he was in high school at the time and 2 days after the crash, a few of the high school guys got together and hiked into the site to see for themselves what it was. He also verified the story about Ronald Little

1st Close-up Observers

To Paul: Your dad must have been a member of the Mountain and Cold Weather Training Command (M&CWTC) which was stationed at Camp Hale. I was an Army Aviator with that unit. Another pilot and I had received a message that an airplane had crashed in the vicinity of Yale Mountain. So we immediately flew out of Camp Hale in an Army red and white colored H-19 Sikorsky helicopter to look for the crash scene. We found the wreckage rather quickly on that fateful day because it was exposed in a cirque area on light-colored rock where no trees were growing. Through our aircraft radio I reported to Army officials exactly where the crash site was located on Mount Yale and I stated that no one aboard the airplane would be expected to have survived the crash and the flames that followed it. Apparently, the message started the round-up of several M&CWTC soldiers to climb Mount Yale that same day; to investigate the wreckage; and to guard it from predators. Because of the extreme angle of the crash-site area we could not land the helicopter there.

First Viewers of C-47 Crash Site

An Army Aviator buddy and I (from the M&CWTC at Camp Hale) were the first viewers of the crash scene. We flew a helicopter above the wreckage but the steep incline did not permit us to land. I radioed the military precisely where the wreckage laid and that no survivors were apt to be found due to the crash and the fire that followed. My radio message alerted the M&CWTC Mountaineers to organize a party to ascend the mountain, assess the situation, and to protect the site from predators.

1956 Crash of Air Force C-47 on Mount Yale, Colorado

I am posting this for Don, who saw a story I wrote about Camp Hale on my website:

Paul: Your dad must have been a member of the Mountain and Cold Weather Training Command (M&CWTC). So was I. I was an Army Aviator with the unit. Another pilot (Robert Knowles) and I, flying out of Camp Hale, in an Army red and white colored H-19 helicopter, spotted the wreckage on that fateful day. I reported by our aircraft radio, through Army Channels, exactly where the crash site was located and that no one aboard the airplane would be expected to have survived the crash and the flames that followed. Apparently, my message started the round-up of M&CWTC soldiers to climb Mount Yale that day, and to investigate the wreckage, and to guard it from predators. Because of the extreme angle of the crash-site area we could not land the helicopter there. Don

1956 Mount Yale Colorado Air Force C-47 Crash

My buddy and Army Aviator friend and I were the first to find and to view the crash site from an Army H-19 helicopter flown from Camp Hale, CO.

C-47 Mount Yale Crash 1956

My dad was one of the rescuers that hiked into the crash site the day of the crash and spent the night there. The initial crash was witnessed so the rescue effort began immediately. I would love to see your pics and also have pics from the crash the day of or day after the crash.

I have some photos of some of

I have some photos of some of the wreckage that I took yesterday, if you would like to have them for this post. you can email me at >claytrell@macdotcom<

Small Correction

The 1956 article says this aircraft departed Ent Air Force Base. Actually, it would have departed from Peterson Field, about 7 miles east of Ent. Ent AFB was located in downtown Colorado Springs and had no runways. Peterson Field (now Peterson Air Force Base) was both the military airfield supporting Ent as well as the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport.

C 47 crash in Buena Vista ,Colorado ,sept 24 ,1956

Hiked up near crash sight yesterday. It was easier than I thought . I have hiked up there a few times . Yesterday I parked at the west end of the North cottonwood forest road. Hiked in on the Bear lake trail. Got to the bridge that crosses the N Cottonwood creek. the crash sight is up and to the left . There was a heavy snow last year and an Avalanche wiped out the hill side . I hiked up the avalanche to 11,000'. I got about a 1/2 mile from GPS sight. I did not get closer, It was thundering and I wanted to get back into the trees. I did not see any debris. I will go back .
I left too late in the morning. Thanks for the help in locating the crash sight. It was a great hike, with views of Columbia and Harvard Mountains. I did see a bear on Columbia turning over rocks, above tree line.

Mt. Yale C-47 Site Coords

As per request from Jim
CAP data 3851N 10619W UNK, C-47, UNK, BLOWING ALUM ON HILL, 12.5
GPS coords 38deg 51' 39.0" 106deg 17' 51.2" at 12,000' level scattered to 10,000'
GPS decimal 38.86085 106.29756
UTM 13S 0387417, 4301927 UTM
Datum used NAD 27
County Chaffee County, CO

24 Sept. 1956
VC-47A Tail #43-48146

Good luck and let me know if this helps.