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SixbyFire

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 #1 
There is a lot of confusion in the media reporting of these two crashes since the military crash reports conflict with the media reports, but the even the military's own crash reports conflict with each other. Both the media and the military initially thought this was a mid-air collision, however, I don't know why they eventually discounted that, perhaps the two minutes between crashes was the deciding factor in that it would have taken less time for both planes to crash had they been involved in a mid-air collision. Regardless of who crashed first and where, two young pilots lost their lives back on December 5th, 1943.

I knew where one plane crashed, as did anyone else doing casual research into this, the aircraft demolished the house at 73 Alexander Ave. in Daly City, while the other reportedly crashed in the hills nearby. That would be the one I would hope would still be in the open space with something left to find. The plane that crashed in the hills crashed near the location of the 140th Signal Radio Intelligence Squadron and finding that old location enabled me to eventually locate the crash site.

I have been researching this crash on and off for years, but I actually had a dream last night that I found it today, so even though I was flying solo without my son (he had other plans already) I decided to search for the crash site in the hills and also get some photos of Alexander Ave. as it stands today to compare to a photo I bought on eBay taken the day of the crashes. To my knowledge nobody had previously located the crash in the hills. It's a micro site, but there were still a lot of interesting pieces to find as you can see in my Flickr album:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sixbyfire/sets/72157651327433430/

Jeff


NickV

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 #2 
Jeff,
Another nice find! Congratulations and outstanding research.
Nick

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DaveTrojan

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 #3 
Tis the year of the P-39s! You found one (congratulations!), I found one (story to be posted soon) and another was found in Washington state. My research indicates they had a very high accident rate. There are a lot more P-39 crash sites out there. 
DaveT
Dennis

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 #4 
"Don't give me a P-39, with the engine that's mounted behind.  You'll tumble and roll and you'll make a big hole.  Don't give me a P-39"... (from the poem)  I like P-39s.  Dennis
Vegasclimber

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 #5 
Nice find! Congrats.

Your "Made in Japan" part is a dirt bike clutch handle. Someone must have taken a bit if a tumble and busted it off.

They did crash an awful lot of 39s, there is a decent site by Vegas that went down after the motor stopped running and the pilot bailed out successfully.
SixbyFire

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 #6 

Thanks for the info on the dirt bike clutch handle, it was pretty beefy, so much so I was wondering if it wasn't from a motorcycle and not a bicycle like I had originally thought. I also found what I think might have been a gas cap, but I forgot to photograph it! I have to check another area for add'l crash debris after taking another look at current aerial imagery and I'll see if I can find more from this dirt bike too.

Jeff

colsonj8

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 #7 
Another nice find! Thanks for posting. Interesting story too.

cJ
SixbyFire

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 #8 

My son and I went back to the crash site in the hills today to try to find more debris. We did, however, this site is a lot smaller than one would think, especially given the witness statements in the crash report. We found more aluminum with torn rivets and a Dzus fastener on the other side of the trail. After GPSing it out the current debris field is only about 50 wide by 100 feet long, going roughly SW/NE with a trail cutting right through it.

We were finishing up our search when a hiker came by, it was one of the people I talked with last week and she commented that I was in the same spot. We showed her what we found and I commented, almost as an aside, that the site seemed a lot smaller than we thought it would be. She told us that many years ago, as part of a habitat restoration project, they bulldozed and regraded a large area in the area we were searching in, and even hauled some dirt away! So it is possible that more was here but got hauled away, or regraded into the earth. We did get quite a few hits that we couldn't dig up, so there is more out there.

Didn't find anything more from the motorcycle, just that gas cap I had previously found, which looks to be non-aircraft after all. I am going to request the death certificates from the County for both pilots, hopefully that will clear up who crashed where and when once and for all.

Jeff

SixbyFire

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 #9 

Updating an old thread. I did get the death certificates from the County and that 100% cleared up who crashed where, and I think I cleared up who crashed first. I believe the media reported the crashes in the order in which they were reported to authorities, so the second crash into packed neighborhood of houses was called in before the first one that crashed in the hills just two minutes earlier. The death certificates list the same time of death so that wasn't helpful and while the media reports the crashes were two minutes apart, the military says the same thing, but that the crash in the hills was actually first.

I do know the Daly City Historical Society was interested in learning more about these crashes since they only have a few newspaper clippings and I will be reaching out to them with our findings.

After doing more research on Flight Officer Criswell, the pilot who died when his plane crashed in the hills above Daly City, it appears his younger brother, John Edgar Criswell, was killed on April 15th, 1943. He was an Aviation Radioman 2nd Class in the United States Navy, however, further research didn't reveal any additional information on his death.

My son and I did some more searching and I'm not sure that much was hauled away during habitat restoration like the passing hiker told us. The site is very, very well defined, and there isn't anything outside a specific area as one would expect if large earthmoving equipment was moving dirt around. I did add a few newer photos to my album on Flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sixbyfire/albums/72157651327433430

Jeff

SixbyFire

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 #10 

Another update. Today my son and I met with one of the primary people who runs the Daly City History Museum. We presented to her a binder full of information, including photos, maps, the crash reports, and digital copies of same. They had little info on these accidents and in fact, they didn't have any good info on Camp Daly City, where the 140th Signal Radio Intelligence Squadron was located, and who were the first ones to arrive at the crash in the hills. We are going to be in contact with them since we didn't have enough time to look over all their info, and we didn't have enough time to share all of ours. We are going to recover a few items from the crash site so that a permanent display, hopefully including both aviators, can be set up. They have quite a bit of WWII era things so this should fit in nicely. They also have a scrapbook from a pilot, donated to the Museum from his family, that chronicles his service. He died during the war in a plane crash in England, and hopefully we can see what information is available on his crash.

Jeff

 

DaveTrojan

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 #11 
Good follow up. It is always nice to find a museum for artifacts. 
philthyinc

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 #12 
sixbyfire mr jeff  my name is phil i live in ssf ca i am 36 years old when my grandfather was alive he always shared his interest with me about planes he used to have a propellor hanging up for the longest time and later tucked it away he passed away dec 15 th 2008 . well today my dad and i were talking about him and his propellor and he told me when my grandfather was young 13-14 maybe in the 1930-40s he found a crashed plane as he lived in daly city and the family owned a coal and hey business i believe this is  were he obtained the propellor and some wing parts also some canvass with the numbers 22 painted on it  black letters silver canvass seen that you are very involved in the history i was wondering if you can help me out   it would be fun to get some information thanks
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SixbyFire

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 #13 

Phil, I got your e-mail, I'll reply to it today!

Jeff

DaveTrojan

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 #14 
new thread started
unknown Daly City 
concerning reply by Phil
SixbyFire

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 #15 

I am giving a talk about these crashes and other historical and WWII information about San Bruno Mountain in Daly City. If anyone is in the SF Bay Area and wants to check it out, see the attached flyer.

Jeff

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