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Hangman

Registered: 06/28/13
Posts: 5
 #1 

I wrote the following story which was published in Lost Treasure magazine (losttreasure.com) in December 2012. I'd like to know if anyone has heard of this story / wreck. I have abandoned my research work on this case, but if new information is found I will continue to chase down the lead.

1. The Lost Frost Eye Diamond Hoax

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY - The story briefly of the lost Frost Eye Diamond began during the early morning hours on December 12, 1941. Millionaire industrialist Harold G. Stone (Some accounts claim he was British) was in Los Angeles when Pearl Harbor was attacked. In the days to follow reports of Japanese subs were spotted off the California coast.

Fearing an attack on Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego, Stone chartered a Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) DC-3 cargo plane to fly his extensive diamond collection including the famous Frost Eye diamond, an African gem cut in the shape of a huge teardrop once owned by King Ludwig of Bavaria and worth $750,000 at the time to banks in the east for protection.

Stone's diamond collection valued then at $2,500,000 was packed in a felt lined iron case and loaded onboard the charted DC-3 under heavy guard. At precisely 6:30 am the plane took off from the El Toro airfield with three crewmen, two of Stone's aides and two heavily armed guards; their destination was Wichita, Kansas.

At 7:15 am the pilot reported to the tower that the right engine had malfunctioned and was causing stability problems. The tower told the pilot to return to Los Angeles or divert to the airport at Flagstaff, Arizona. The tower advised the crew to report in every 15 minutes with a status update. The pilot acknowledged the tower; it was the last time the plane was heard from. The aircraft, its seven passengers and over $2,500,000 in diamonds vanished.

Three days after the plane vanished a resident of Needles, California reported seeing an aircraft going down of the horizon in the early morning hours of December 12, 1941. It is believed the DC-3 crashed somewhere in California's Mojave desert between Barstow to the north, San Bernardino to the south, and Amboy to the east. According to the story Stone mounted three expeditions during his lifetime to search for the downed DC-3, but no trace of the aircraft was ever found.

Research:

I have spent six years researching this story in preparation of an expedition to the site. Six years into research I believe it to be a hoax. But with all the twists in this story I admit I could be wrong. My research failed to located any millionaire industrialist named Harold G. Stone in Los Angeles or elsewhere.

There is no record for any diamond named the "Frost Eye." It is said King Ludwig of Bavaria was the original owner of the famed diamond which in at least one account is called the "Tear Drop" diamond. King Ludwig was a collector and he owned many prized diamonds, but none called the Tear Drop or Frost Eye.

There is no mention in local newspapers of the time of a Harold G. Stone, his diamond, a missing DC-3, or the search for the downed aircraft in the Mojave desert. In 2006 I was in contact with an unknown party only known by his screen name "CascaAmI" who claimed he found the original newspaper accounts of the incident while doing genealogy research at the Santa Monica Family History Library of the LDS church.

CascaAmI said he took notes from the newspaper accounts he read to research the story more. He states the DC-3 "left from the El Toro Airstrip bound for Arizona." But that's impossible since the USMC El Toro Air Station (Orange County) wasn't built until 1942. In another 1983 account by Michael Paul Henson he declared "Stone's jewelry collection was recognized as one of the finest in the United States." But there is no account of any such collection.

According to records one airplane did crash in California on December 12, 1941, killing Major General Herbert A. Dargue and seven others. The B-18 left Phoenix bound for Hamilton Field in San Rafael, California. But this is not the plane the eye-witness reported seeing from Needles. Dargue's B-18 crashed 279 miles north of Needles and at night. According to G. Pat Macha the only lost aircraft in California from 1941 was a USAAF Curtis P-40. The pilot was rescued but the aircraft was never found.

The facts are, Harold G. Stone didn't exist, the "famed" diamond doesn't exist, the DC-3 flight never occurred, and the airport the plane took off from didn't exist. There are no newspaper accounts of the missing flight, or the subsequent large scale search that followed. Case Closed. So it would seem.

While recently digging through Lost Treasure's extensive archives I stumbled onto a letter to the editor which appeared on page 8 in the November 1974 issue of True Treasure magazine concerning this story. David D. Hatch of Cypress, California ruined my day. Hatch wrote... "While stationed at a weather-information facility just south of Los Angeles in 1941, I served as an assistant weather consultant."

Hatch stated his job required him to travel to various military and commercial airfields in southern California. He wrote, "I remember being at a field a few days after the war started. On one end of the field was an aluminum-colored DC-3 with all kinds of guards around it. It wasn't a, military plane, but it had military guards. Most of us thought it (the DC-3) was (carrying) secret orders, or some dignitary."

"The next day there was a report that the plane was missing. Later on we heard something about a bunch of diamonds. After reading Ferguson's article I'm certain it was the same plane. This article cleared up an old mystery in my mind."

Much of this story is based on the account of CascaAmI. He states he researched this story extensively and spent a small fortune flying over the desert to locate the DC-3. In closing CascaAmI wrote, "I cannot say for sure whether this aircraft ever existed, or the true identity of this rich man." Like me the author found no evidence of a Mr. Stone, a lost aircraft or the diamond. 

 

 

NickV

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Founder of Wreckchasing.com
Registered: 11/28/06
Posts: 252
 #2 
Hangman,
Welcome to the board.

According to the resources list in the back of Wreckchasing 101 (Appendix IV, DC-3 Crashes in the United States -- compiled by Ed Davies), there were only seven DC-3 crashes in 1941, and they occurred in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. 

Is there a chance the aircraft type in question was something else – a Lockheed Model 18 perhaps?

Nick

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djordan

Registered: 12/09/06
Posts: 352
 #3 
My resources indicate that there were 18 crashes involving DC-3 type aircraft in 1941.  However, one was in San Salvador, and one was in Ontario, BC.  Both of those were scheduled American airliners.  I didn't read all of the details from each crash report looking for anything that might be related to the Mojave crash, but will do so in the near future.  There were some Lockheed and Sikorsky type aircraft involved in accidents during that same time period as well.   The crash reports are quit detailed and might make for some good reading.

Don J.

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Don Jordan

"Aircraft Wrecks In The Mountains And Deserts Of California"
http://www.donrjordan.com
JR

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Registered: 11/29/06
Posts: 255
 #4 
This tale has been around for a long time in one form or another and ranks up there with the "Flying Dutchman's Mine", "Peg Leg's Gold", "Peralta's Treasure" and other treasure stories that may or may not be true.

I researched this 25 years ago, and again about five years ago when I started researching missing aircraft.  The holes in this story include:

1)  I could not find any evidence that a Mr. Harold G. Stone ever existed and if he did, what business he was in.

2) There is no record of a missing chartered DC-3 or any other similar aircraft missing in California during late 1941. Yes, all CAB and CAA accident records are gone, probably for good, but the accident reports for airliners and other chartered aircraft are still available. There was no report for a missing DC-3, anywhere, in 1941 that is still missing to this day.

3)  Finally, in the same hysteria that drove "Mr. Stone" to try and move his loot east, the US Government declared martial law all up and down the West Coast right after Pearl Harbor and ordered all non-military and non-essential flights grounded. Most general aviation aircraft in WA, OR and CA were ordered moved to airports in the eastern half of those states were they remained grounded until the owners were compelled to turn their aircraft over the military in mid-1942.

There are several variations of the same story that has been published in numerous books and magazines that cater to treasure hunters.  The story seems to have started circulating in the early 1960s around the time a couple of general aviation planes went missing in Southern California that were rumored to have had large amounts of valuables aboard. One variation of the story has the plane going down in the San Francisco Lava Flow north of Flagstaff.  I-40 now crosses along the southern border of this 1800 square mile patch of rocky and inaccessible lava flow.

A story like this would certainly have been big news in 1941, war or no war, and there would have been plenty of historical evidence to be found. But I have found none except hearsay, second and third hand tales passed on by word of mouth and the few odd stories in books and mags about lost treasure that have been published since the mid-1960s.  Letters to the editors of those same magazines seem to feed this story. 

In 1986 I bought a guide to lost treasure from a mining and prospecting store in Pasadena. This "guide" listed every story, incident, episode of lost mines, buried treasures and valuables lost and found in Southern California. It listed the story of this lost DC-3 and advanced the opinion that the incident never happened.

In my personal opinion, I am 100% certain that this story is false and never happened.
Hangman

Registered: 06/28/13
Posts: 5
 #5 
Nick, its possible it was not a chartered DC-3 as the original story indicates. However I agree with JR that this story is fiction. As he points out, there would've been newspaper accounts and other documentation that could not be avoided even if the the millionaire had paid to keep it quiet.

This isn't the first story I've debunked as a field editor for Lost Treasure magazine. Yes I guess we're supposed to support these fictional accounts since the publication does support the treasure hunting / metal detecting & detector sales community, but that doesn't work for me. I was an honest cop who was disabled in the line before I began writing. I've been with the magazine for 10 years now and not once have I ever been hampered about debunking fictional accounts by the publication. Its just one of those personal things, if I investigate it and my name goes on the report I got to be able to back it up.

Honestly I wanted this story to be true so I'd have an excuse to go back to the Mojave (which I love) and do some camping and looking around. But it didn't work out that way. By the way I didn't realize you guys are the ones who published your Wreckchasing book when I joined this forum. But I'm glad I did since I had hoped to hike into the Tell's Peak crash site this year, which isn't too far from home however those plans have been delayed until next year. I know some of you guys have visited this site and I have a copy of Don Johnson's online article on this crash. 

I'm not really a treasure hunter, don't own a detector, but I love investigation work and photography. I also enjoy the outdoors hiking in & out as well as camping. I did a wreckchasing article for Lost Treasure some years ago and will look for it as time permits. Thank you all for posting its good to know my work is supported by the work of others. 

djtod

Registered: 02/23
Posts: 1
 #6 
I have to say I am stumped by this one to, I read this story about ten years ago
and recently tried to relocate the story with no luck. But what I do recall is that
the plane was a chartered C-47 Cargo that left from Burbank California, which
would make that Burbank Airport which I don't think was built yet, it would have
been Lockheed Airfield. I do remember something I read that stuck in my head it
was early in the morning when this plane took off, an the pilot contacted the tower
reporting a problem as it made it's easterly bank headed for it's destination , I
put myself in the pilots seat and said what would I do? I am just clearing the
San Gabriel mountains probably flying parallel to them Approaching San Bernideno
mountains I am looking for a place to put down, it's December Winter that means
most likely the lakes are frozen over, from above that would look like a pretty 
flat surface to land on? no fire no smoke no plane, then I scratched my head an
realized I had open another can of worms.
 
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