P-51D Mustang California Desert Crash Site

Witness Statements:
Arthur D. Goodwin
  At approximately 12:30 to 1:00PM, 26 March 1945, I was standing in my back yard and my attention was drawn to an airplane over head which seemed to be diving at a high rate of speed, 
indicated by the extremely loud scream of the aircraft. I could only hear the whine and could not determine whether the engine could be heard or not. The weather was clear and a medium
wind was blowing at the time. I did not see the airplane at any time. As the high whine died away, I waited for the aircraft to pull out, but did not see or hear anything else following it's passing
over this area.

Frank N. Fox
  At about 1:00 or 1:15PM, 26 March 1945, my attention was attracted to an airplane approaching over head, very high, by the high whine of either the airplane or its engine. I did not see the airplane
at any time, but was following the whine and roar. All of my neighbors were attracted by the same sound and the whine scared the livestock in the entire area. As the sound passed over a ridge
about 10 miles from my house, I saw a large cloud of black smoke arise. Immediately following this, I contacted the Twenty-Nine Palms Naval Operations Station and reported the possibility
of an airplane crash. The weather was clear with a high wind blowing at the time I was first attracted to the noise.

 

  North American Aviation test pilot Spencer Jennings (33) took off from Mines Field on March 26, 1945 at 12:15 on a routine check flight in a P-51D, BuNo 44-73636. At 12:40 Jennings checked in with the North American Aviation radio station 10 miles south of Palmdale at an altitude of 12,000 feet. 
  At 13:00 another test pilot contacted Jennings and they discussed the low carburetor air temperature.
  At about this same time people in a desert community stated that they had heard an airplane, seemingly very high, and at a terrific rate of speed, this was assumed because of the abnormal screaming sound of the airplane traveling through the air at a high velocity.
  Witnesses never saw the aircraft. A C-47 was attracted to the area by black smoke and reported a aircraft crash with no signs of life. A jeep was guided to the area.

  Positive identification was possible through the wallet and identification cards of the pilot found beside the wreckage. Parts of the airplane shown in the crash report show the impossibility or feasibility of trying to determine cause of failure. 

  Crash Investigator F. A. Hill submitted the following statement; 
"My opinion after the investigation, is that something happened to the pilot, because he had time to do any of about three things. First, he could have used his radio to indicate trouble. Second, he could have stopped his engine. Third, he could have jettisoned his enclosure and jumped, all of which indicated that he was temporarily unable to help himself". A check of the pilots background indicated that Mr. Jennings was in the best of health.

  Thanks to Pat Macha for the the crash report that enabled me to hike my butt off in search of this lost to time site.

 

Crash site photo taken near the same spot in the crash report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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