USAAF Consolidated PBY (AO-10) Catalina # 44-34096, crashed August 1, 1945, 25 miles southwest of Grants, New Mexico

Summary: While on a flight from Hunter Field, Georgia to Mather Field in California, the Catalina developed engine trouble and crashed. The details as to the exact cause of the crash are unknown as the aircraft was completely destroyed. The only witness before the crash was a P-51 Mustang pilot flying near the PBY over Tucumcari, New Mexico. He stated that he asked the Catalina pilot if he was okay, as he had one landing gear up and the other down. Lt. Wilson Parker stated everything was under control. The P-51 pilot then noticed a slight smoke trail coming from engine #1 with an oil leak on top. The Mustang pilot reported this to Lt. Parker, who responded again that everything was okay. The Mustang pilot then flew away.

As the Catalina was over Cibola National Forest, crash investigators were able to determine the plane turned approximately 90 degrees from course, feathered his engine, and was likely trying to return to Albuquerque to land when the plane crashed. The Catalina was so destroyed that investigators were unable to determine the exact cause of the crash. The crew were Lt's Wilson Parker, William Bartlett, James Garland, and Sgt's Irwin Marcus, Robert Crook, Harold Post and John Jackson.

To get to the crash you must hike over 75-foot high lava tubes for over a half mile. The half mile takes about 30 minutes to cross. An overview of the crash site on the lava rock bed. A massive external gas tank attached by a bomb shackle. A Navy data tag on the bomb shackle.


A rusted emergency water can and parachute buckles. One of the engine cylinders. One of the Pratt & Whitney R-1830 14-cylinder Twin Wasp air-cooled radial engines. An exhaust manifold and scattered debris.


Two engine cylinders and a propeller hub. One of the landing gear. More debris. A massive 12 foot section of wing.


This tail section is about 15 feet wide.