Summary: Flight instructor 2nd Lt. Lowell Wright and Chinese Air Force student Air Cadet Ming Chwei departed Avra Auxiliary Field at 9 a.m. for a dual instrument flight that was to last an hour. When the aircraft failed to return to the base, an air search was commenced and the wreckage was spotted two days later in a remote area high in the Catalina Mountains. A ground party was dispatched to the crash, but the area was so rugged it took another two days to reach the wreckage.

Investigators found the wreckage in the bottom of a steep canyon but were perplexed as to how it crashed there. Interestingly, they surmised the most likely explanation was that the instructor fell asleep while the student was flying under the hood for his navigational training. As the BT-13 flew up the steep canyon, they believed the turbulence probably awoke the instructor, who then tried to violently turn the airplane in a 180 degree turn, but clipped some tall pine trees and crashed to the canyon floor.


The instructor pilot, 2nd Lt Lowell Wright. The BT-13's empennage. The bottom side of a wing. Side view of the wing.

 

The inside of a wheel cover Aircraft skin.. The exhaust manifold and rear of the Pratt & Whitney R-985 radial engine. The bent Hamilton-Standard propeller.

 

The engine cowling still retains the black, green and yellow paint. The aircraft serial number stenciled inside the cowling. This made sure the correct cowling went back on the proper plane when maintenance was performed. Data plate on the wing. Manufacture date stenciled on a part.

 

'No Step' on the wing. The topside of a wing. Note the black walkway that led to the cockpit. Standing next to a wing. Radio component.

 

Empennage and more debris. Looking in the direction the plane came from when it hit the tops of the trees.

 

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