West White Pine Mtn C-46 Trips

Trip #1:

When I first moved to Ft. Collins in 1983, I had some time on my hands because I was between careers. We’d just moved here so my wife could work as an Engineer for Hewlett-Packard Co. I had just finished my service in the Navy as a nuclear submarine officer and was working on tuning my resume to match what civilian companies might want. In order to reward myself for performing the stressful tasks of resume trimming and cold-calling on potential employers, I would take my trusty Honda XL185 trail bike up in the mountains exploring. I’d read some local history from the library and was interested in the Flowers Road story and I spent several afternoons following the Flowers road and side trails.

During one of these excursions I found a very faint side trail off of a section of FR on the east side of the Pingree Park road. I travelled this sidetrail as far as I could, then parked the bike and walked further.

Initially it seemed that this side trail was for the purpose of supporting a mobile sawmill because there was a bark pile to one side, but the road was really quite bad beyond here and it seemed very old.

As I followed it thru the woods it finally turned almost directly uphill. Now, as a road, this didn’t make sense. It was too steep. But I also saw that there were marks on the trees such as would be made by winch cables. Interesting.

After climbing a few hundred feet directly uphill I came to what I recognized even then, as being the site of an airplane wreck. The trees were knocked down in the forest, there were bits and scraps of aluminum, wire, piping, cable clamps, a landing gear leg and many small pieces in the clearing.

On this first visit I found the point of impact as a charred area and, using a stick, I dug thru the center of impact turning up an unbroken vacuum tube, the rims of some Ray-Ban sunglasses and some other odds and ends which I laid upon the nearby landing gear leg.

After digging for a bit, I circled the wreckage perimeter and found above the main point of impact some gear oil buckets (in olive drab paint) and some bound books - some sort of manuals but the pages were so bleached that I couldn’t tell what had been printed. I assumed that the cable marks on the trees had been from the trucks that had been used to haul the wreckage out of the hills. I stood and thought about THAT job for awhile but didn’t see how it had been done. But it had been done. There was no way to tell what kind of plane it had been because I didn’t recognize the landing gear leg. I mentally filed this away as an interesting thing to find in the woods and then went on my way.

I forgot about the wreck for about 12 years.

Trip #2:

After receiving the CAP list I started plotting every interesting wreck site onto NFS maps and found that a C-46 Curtiss Commando wreck was listed as being on White Pine Mountain. The coordinates were pretty much where the wreck I’d remembered was so one summer Saturday I set off to use GPS to pinpoint the site.

This time I took my Yamaha XT350 to the side trail and found that the NFS had bermed it off so no one would try to drive it. That made little difference because I knew I wasn’t going to go far anyway so I rode the bike around the berm and up the hill a little ways in order to get it out of sight from the road. I stashed my riding jacket and helmet in a camouflaged sack and set off up the hill with GPS, camera and some time.

The hike itself really wasn’t memorable so I won’t say much about it here. Suffice to say that it was a little further than I’d remembered it but not greatly so. The coordinates I had from the CAP were remarkably accurate - within 0.1 mile and so the C-46 was quietly logged and "bagged"

Duke has spoken to some sources and the word is that the airplane was carrying engines for the USAF.

That would explain the gear oil buckets and perhaps the blank books were actually engine logbooks???

I'd really like to know how the wreckage was removed. My Unimog would have a problem with getting up and down that hill.

Home Moggie!  

Last Modified: 1/1/2008