Crystal Mountain DC-6B

Name Crystal Mountain DC-6B
GPS coords 40 32 00 N 105 24 48 W by GPS (24 mile error!)
GPS decimal  40.53152  105.41518   Closer to center
UTM 13T 0464835,4486625  (2005)   NEW! 
Datum used NAD 27
County Larimer, CO.

Pima Museum's VC-118
The USAF called it a C-118. This beauty is an Air Force One!

Photo by John Sepp. Courtesy of the Pima Air and Space Museum

(Click on pictures to get enlarged image)
debris scattered in raw earth closed trench
Wreck was bulldozed into a trench.

The wreck cause: Civil Aeronautics Board (the predecessor to today's FAA) determined that the Captain who was highly experienced in the DC-3 made an incorrect radio receiver switch lineup in the cabin. When he was supposed to be bracketing the southbound leg of the Radio Range to Denver, he was not correctly selected for it. They speculated that his lack of familiarity with the higher speed of the DC-6 kept him from becoming alarmed in time to discover and correct the error. It was noted that there are 3 selector switches for the receivers all in a row, all identical and all in a portion of the cockpit which has no light. Changing settings by feel could be done in error. After this accident, one of the switch handles in all aircraft was modified so that it could be distinguished by feel.

Transcript of the CAB accident report (typed in by Ron)

New as of 10/29/2005- Capt. Appleby's daughter has a very different theory for the crash from the CAB investigation. Click here to read it.

New as of 8/16/18 - Trip with Flight Engineer's daughter and grand-daughter


Miss Shirley Colmer, San Francisco. 
Miss L. Frudden, Charles City, IA.
Frances Hoffner, Stockton, Calif.
J.F. Schuster, St. Paul, Minn.
Mrs. S. Sussman, San Francisco.
Navy Lt. D.P. Zylla, Treasure Island, Calif.
E.D. Detleff, San Jose, Calif.
Mrs. Mary Green, Cherokee, Ia.
Miss E. Ivey, San Francisco.
Dr. C.W. Dingman, U.A.L. employee, San Francisco.
Meyer Brown, Oakland, Calif.
L. Ehrlich, Richmond, Calif.
George Harkness, Berkeley, Calif.
Mrs. Harkness, Harkness' wife, Berkeley, Calif.
Judy Larson, 9, of Oakland, Calif.
Mrs. A.S. Holmes, El Cerrito, Calif.
Air Force Col. Merle A. Parks, Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
N.S. Turner, Oakland, Calif.
K.C. Morgan, U.A.L. Employee, San Bruno, Calif.
Mrs. Lois Morgan, Morgan's wife, and three children, Jane, 16, Jim, 13, and Duane Morgan, 12.
Mrs. Warren F. Morse, U.A.L. employee's wife, Palo Alto, Calif., and her daughters, Zoe Ann, 5, and Ruth, 11 months.
Joe Coury, Pittsburgh, Pa.
A.W. Gerth, Alexandria, Va.
I. Thomas McKillop, Alexandria, Va.
Mrs. L.E. Montgomery, U.A.L. employee's wife, Palo Alto, and daughter, Mary Patricia.
George W. Haggard, Washington, D.C.
R.E. Bieghley, Youngstown, Ohio.
S.E. McCabe, Arlington, W. Va.
T.L. Evans, Clovis, N.M.
Two employees of the Pemco corporation, Nashville, Tenn.: Frank C. Drake, Nashville, and P.W. Cullom (no home address).
Five civilian employees of Wright air force base, Dayton, O., Joseph H. Britain, Benjamin Pingel, Francis E. Wise, George Piper and I.G. Vann.
J.W. Landers (no address)
Dayrell G. Ensign, Riverside, Ill.
Morton Orenstien, Oakland, Calif.
Crew members are:
Capt. Richard J. Appleby, Los Altos, Calif., pilot
Copilot Harry Grant Tower, Burlingame, Calif.
Flight Engineer August P. Petrovich, Redwood City, Calif.
Stewardess Frances May Smith, Palo Alto Calif.
Second Stewardess Carol J. Raymond, San Mateo, Calif.

Site Description:. .Certainly NOT visible from the air. (nothing large enough) This is probably initial report before wreck cleanup and possibly even before investigation. Small bits and pieces are scattered thru a large area under the trees. Mostly scraps of skinning and little structural. The debris was bulldozed into a trench after the investigation was finished and buried. Some of the debris is now poking up out of the compacted dirt.

Best route :  NO LONGER TRUE. Just drive the Crystal Mtn road to the closest reasonable point and walk a compass heading to the site. Small pieces are spread thru a fairly large area.The wreck is just off Crystal Mtn. Rd. (NFS road 344-2) To visit the site, I recommend you forego trying to access it by 344-2 since that road is in terrible condition.  Unless you are willing to walk the road. If you walk the road go to the stub road that was used to remove the engines and some debris. The stub road is at : 0464788, 446530 (2005) Sometimes the gate to FR 344 is closed quite a ways back so you might wind up having to walk quite a distance on the road. If  the gate is open I suggest you park at the mudholes at the 3 way intersection where the roads are converged on a creek and walk from there. Easy half-day trip from Ft. Collins.

August 5, 2012- The site and its access is unaffected by the High Park Fire.

June 28, 2015-  Road 344-2, the mudholes, were washed out in the 2013 floods and now that section is impassable. NFS gate remains closed since that road is the reason for public access thru the gate. Note also that bordering property owners have groomed the main road from private land, across NFS land, and back onto private land and also posted 344-2 as Private Property - No Hunting. I think that unless the NFS sold the land that the posting is in error - but Crystal Mountain has been disputed territory for many, many years up to and including the public being held at AR-15 gunpoint on NFS land. The road marker for 344-2 was nowhere to be seen.

August 16, 2018-  The NFS gate has been reopened. The border to the State Trust Land further along the road has a new, sturdy gate and No Trespassing signs posted.  This means that with a 4WD lo range vehicle one can get 1 mile closer to the crash site before you have to park and start walking.  This is what was done when I escorted Nancy and Mariah S to the site. Nancy is the daughter of August Petrovich the Flight Engineer on the doomed aircraft.  Trip report here.

2 April 2022-  BAD NEWS! The High Park Fire of 2021 burned over the site and flooding has destroyed the roads from the NFS gate. 

Current picture-

Trips to find the Crystal Mountain DC-6B (3 pictures)

I took Alan Gionet of Denver TV 4 to the site and he did this story:

Pictures in this frame courtesy Alan Gionet KCNC TV4 Denver

Pictures courtesy Alan Gionet KCNC TV4 Denver

Home Moggie!  


Last Modified: 4/5/2024