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.
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.