C-47B Skytrain, serial number 43-16151, crashed December 25th, 1944, near Quartzsite, Arizona

Summary:  This Dakota was on the final leg of it's flight to Los Angeles. The pilot departed Tucson, Arizona for Los Angeles, despite being warned that severe thunderstorms and low clouds could hinder his visibility. About 20 Miles southeast of Quartzsite, Arizona the low-hanging clouds shrouded the mountains and peaks in the area, including Black Mesa. Tragically, the C-47 slammed into the side of the mesa about 12 feet from the top, killing all 17 men.

Records indicate that some of the men were in the Navy headed to their ships in San Diego, while others had just come from basic training in Georgia and headed home for a short leave before their combat duty. When I first found the site, I came across coins from French Morocco, which really confused me. A closer look at the men on board indicated that some had already served overseas fighting the Germans in North Africa and Italy. Clearly, one of these men had saved some of this foreign currency as a souvenir.

A local in the area told me that the crash was left until a salvager cleaned in up in 1947-48. Today, not much is left of the C-47 except a large burn area with scattered debris. The largest parts left are a few engine cylinders and engine parts.

The crew on board were: Captain Ben Gibson (pilot), Lt. George Winzler (copilot), Sgt. Jack Maier (engineer), Pvt Frank Byrne (radio operator). The passengers were: Infantry Pfc's George Jones, Dudley Hutton, George Francis, Bruce Carden, Haig Sansian, Infantry Private Leroy Thomas, Infantry Sergeants Williams Yates and Clyde Wikadel, Navy Yeoman James Woodley and Donald Brakebill, Navy Seaman Edgell Powell, Navy Chief E.O. Milliron, and Flight Officer A.C. Middleton.

The cliff where the C-47 impacted, just 12 feet below the crest. One of the engine crankshafts. Most of the wreckage was catapulted up on the mesa. Here is the propeller-feathering mechanism.


Coins from French Morocco and a Marksmans badge A few instrument faces.