Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesj

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home

happy? – Jan 29 (Los Gatos crash)


Related threads:
Looking for a particular recording of 'Deportees' (50)
(origins) Origins:Deportees-seeking original Woody recording (137)
New Info About Woody Guthrie's Deportee (29)
(origins) Origin: Plane Wreck At Los Gatos (background) (44)
ADD: The Grape Pickers Tragedy (Jack Warshaw) (8)
song challenge: deportees/illegal migrants (6)
W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning? (57) (closed)
(origins) Origins: was Deportees based on Bold Robert Emmet (13)
oranges and creosote (10) (closed)

Abby Sale 31 Jan 06 - 12:30 PM
Joe Offer 01 Feb 06 - 03:07 AM
GUEST,Gerry 01 Feb 06 - 10:21 PM
Peace 01 Feb 06 - 10:30 PM
Peace 01 Feb 06 - 10:35 PM
Joe Offer 29 Jan 12 - 03:46 AM
Jim Carroll 29 Jan 12 - 05:14 AM
GUEST 04 Jun 13 - 08:24 PM
GUEST,Gerry 05 Jun 13 - 08:19 AM
Abby Sale 05 Jun 13 - 08:40 AM
Abby Sale 05 Jun 13 - 06:32 PM
GUEST,Gerry 05 Jun 13 - 08:22 PM
Share Thread
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum Child
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:

Subject: happy? – Jan 29 (Los Gatos crash)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 31 Jan 06 - 12:30 PM

The New York Times of January 29, 1948 reported the wreck of a "charter plane carrying 28 Mexican farm workers from Oakland to the El Centro, CA, Deportation Center...

The crash occurred 20 miles west of Coalinga, 75 miles from Fresno." (near Los Gatos Rd & Los Gatos Creek & the Fresno/San Benito county line.)

[Thanx Joe Offer for the research. The tune was written circa 1958 by Martin Hoffman.]

        Goodbye to my Juan, farewell Roselita
        Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria
        You won't have a name when you ride the big airplane
        All they will call you will be deportees

                WW Guthrie

Copyright © 2005, Abby Sale - all rights reserved
What are Happy's all about? See Clicky

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: happy? – Jan 29 (Los Gatos crash)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Feb 06 - 03:07 AM

The main discussion of the song is in this thread. In 2002, I got a note and some clippings from the local newspaper reported who covered the story in 1948. I was getting married about the time he wrote to me, and I never got around to contacting him. I did collect a number of newspaper clippings from the story. It was the worst California air crash up to that time; and it was front-page news in most California newspapers for two days, until Gandhi was assassinated.
It didn't get much coverage in the New York Times article that Woody read, but it did get good coverage in California. Although I found lots of coverage of the wreck, I never did find a list of the names of the deportees.

-Joe Offer-

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: happy? – Jan 29 (Los Gatos crash)
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 01 Feb 06 - 10:21 PM

I added a bit a few years back when Australia was shipping the survivors
of failed immigration attempts off to various South Pacific locations for processing.

The boat broke apart in the Indian Ocean
A torrent of water that drenched all our shores
Who are these friends all scattered like seaweed?
The six o'clock news says that they jumped the queue.

Goodbye to Mohamed, farewell to Fatima
Salaam aleikim, Abdul and Rakia
You won't have a name when we ship you to Nauru
All they will say is that you jumped the queue

Is this the best way to defend our borders?
Is this the best way to keep ourselves free?
To drown in the ocean, be scattered like seaweed
To be known as queue-jumpers, and not refugees

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: happy? – Jan 29 (Los Gatos crash)
From: Peace
Date: 01 Feb 06 - 10:30 PM

• 1948 •

Latest entry - added 10 December 2005
Date / Time: Wednesday, January 28, 1948 / 10:50 a.m.
Operator / Flight No.: Airline Transport Carriers, Inc. / Non-Scheduled Charter
Location: Los Gatos Canyon, near Coalinga, Calif.

Details and Probable Cause:   Based at the Lockheed Air Terminal in Burbank, Airline Transport Carriers, Inc., was a non-scheduled air carrier operating under a letter of registration issued by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and an operating certificate issued by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA).

Early on the morning of January 28, a crew of three -- pilot Francis "Frank" Atkinson, 30, stewardess Lillian "Bobbie" Atkinson, 28 (Captain Atkinson's wife), and copilot Marion Harlow Ewing, 33 -- were contracted to fly company aircraft NC79055, a Douglas DC-3, from Burbank to Oakland.   Upon arrival at Oakland, the plane, certificated to carry up to 32 passengers, was to take aboard 28 Mexican Nationals and a United States Immigration Department official and then fly the group to Imperial County Airport near El Centro, California, where the Mexican Nationals were to be processed at a deportation facility.

However, the flight crew mistakenly boarded the wrong company aircraft and departed Burbank for Oakland at 6:46 a.m. with aircraft NC36480, a similar twin-engine Douglas DC-3 (actually a former military version of the DC-3, a Douglas C-47B-40-DK Skytrain transport that had been converted to post-war passenger use).   This plane was certificated to carry only 26 passengers and was seven hours overdue for a required 100-hour maintenance inspection.

The flight from Burbank to Oakland was routine, but at some point during the flight Captain Atkinson apparently realized that he was flying the wrong airplane for he requested his landing instructions from the Oakland control tower using the appropriate call numbers for the aircraft being utilized -- 480.   The plane landed at Oakland at 8:49 a.m.

Since this particular DC-3 could only seat 26 passengers, and 29 were boarding at Oakland, this left three of the Mexican Nationals without seats in which they could be secured with safety belts.   According to the statement of a second United States Immigration Department employee who assisted with the passenger loading process, three pieces of unsecured luggage were present in the passenger cabin aisle at the time of the plane's departure, and "it is probable" that the three passengers were seated on this luggage after the aircraft taxied away from the loading area.   Total weight for the plane upon departure was 67 pounds over the maximum allowable weight.

Just prior to departure, the captain received a message from his company, relayed through the control tower, that he was to return directly to Burbank.   Atkinson's acknowledgment of this message was the last communication received from the flight, and the plane departed Oakland at approximately 9:30 a.m.

Over an hour and 20 minutes later the DC-3 was observed by various people on the ground in the vicinity of Coalinga cruising at an estimated altitude of 5,000 feet and emitting a stream of white smoke or vapor, 150 to 200 feet long, from its left (port) engine.

Moments later, flames were seen erupting from the left engine and after several more seconds the entire left wing and engine fell from the aircraft.   Eyewitness Frank V. Johnson, a foreman overseeing a gang of road camp workers, told the Associated Press that the plane "appeared to explode and a wing fell off" before it plummeted to the ground.   An estimated nine or ten occupants of the plane appeared to jump or fall from the aircraft before it hit the earth, he added.

The DC-3 plunged out of control into Los Gatos Canyon at the southern edge of the Diablo mountain range in western Fresno County and burst into flames.   All 29 passengers and three crew members were killed in the crash.   Twelve of the Mexican Nationals were never positively identified.

Investigators probing the wreckage discovered that the left-engine fuel pump contained a defective gasket that allowed a significant amount of fuel to be sprayed from the pump.   Since this defect was only detected after the pump was removed from the wreckage and disassembled, officials were not sure whether it would have been discovered during the course of the (overdue) routine 100-hour maintenance inspection.

It was noted by investigators in their final accident report that Airline Transport Carriers records disclosed that the airline was performing the required maintenance on its planes.   But the officials noted that had the company established some sort of alert or notice -- other than the aircraft log itself -- that the airplane was overdue for inspection and, therefore, "out of commission," the crew's error of taking the wrong aircraft might not have occurred.

As to the actual cause of the accident, investigators ultimately came to the conclusion that fuel, escaping from the defective gasket within the fuel pump, was ignited by an engine source, possibly the engine's exhaust stack.   The inflight fire then spread into the wing panel and burned through the main spar of the left wing, causing the wing to separate and fall from the aircraft.

The investigators' report also concluded that "the error of the crew in taking he wrong airplane and their overloading the aircraft with 3 passengers, who were not provided with safety belts, certainly indicated laxness and poor judgment on the part of the crew, but these considerations did not materially contribute to the cause of the accident."

Famed folk singer Woody Guthrie's song "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee)" is based on this aviation disaster.   Guthrie was reportedly outraged after hearing a radio news account of the accident in which the victims were referred to as "just deportees."

Fatalities: 32 -- 3 crew members; 29 passengers.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: happy? – Jan 29 (Los Gatos crash)
From: Peace
Date: 01 Feb 06 - 10:35 PM

Accident description

Status: Final
Date: 28 JAN 1948
Time: 10:50
Type: Douglas C-47B-40-DK
Operator: Airline Transport Carriers
Registration: NC36480
Msn / C/n: 16850/33598
Year built: 1945
Total airframe hrs: 2868 hours
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney R-1830
Crew: 3 fatalities / 3 on board
Passengers: 29 fatalities / 29 on board
Total: 32 fatalities / 32 on board
Airplane damage: Written off
Location: Diablo Mountains, CA (United States of America)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature: Domestic Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport: Oakland International Airport, CA (OAK)
Destination airport: Imperial County Airport, CA
Douglas DC-3 NC79055, certificated for 32 passengers, had been scheduled for the flight. The crew however took NC36480 by accident, certificated for 26 passengers and 7 hours overdue for a 100-hour inspection. The flight to Oakland was uneventful. At Oakland, 28 passengers boarded the DC-3, leaving three of them sitting on luggage without seat belts. While en route at 5000 feet, the no. 1 engine caught fire. Following an explosion, the left wing, including the engine, separated from the fuselage. The aircraft crashed out of control.
It appeared that the gasket in the engine driven left fuel pump was broken and the 4 studs holding the castings of the pump together were loose. Under pressure, gasoline probably sprayed from the pump, then being ignited by the exhaust. The aircraft was carrying Mexican deportees and a US Immigration & Naturalization Service guard.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the left wing in flight as a result of damage by fire which had its source in a defective left engine driven fuel pump."


ASN Accident description 28 JAN 1948 Douglas C-47B-40-DK NC36480

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: happy? – Jan 29 (Los Gatos crash)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Jan 12 - 03:46 AM

refresh - remember January 29 and the deportees

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: happy? – Jan 29 (Los Gatos crash)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Jan 12 - 05:14 AM

Jack Warshaw made a beautiful song on a similar theme based on Los Gatos entitled The Crop Dusters Lament
Jim Carroll

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: happy – Jan 29 (Los Gatos crash)
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 08:24 PM

Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno honors victims of 1948 Coalinga plane crash

Published: June 3, 2013
By Ron Orozco — The Fresno Bee

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno is trying to right a wrong for 28 Mexican citizens who died in a plane crash 65 years ago near Coalinga.

The group of migrant farmworkers -- employed in a program that allowed Mexican citizens to enter the United States to perform seasonal work and then return to Mexico -- never made it home. The chartered immigration plane they boarded out of Oakland for their return trip to Mexico lost its left wing and fell from the sky. Everyone aboard -- the farmworkers, three crew members and an immigration guard -- died.

The crew members and guard were buried at various cemeteries. The farmworkers were buried in a mass grave at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Fresno -- with a bronze grave marker bearing the words "airplane accident" and no names.

The Diocese of Fresno, which operates Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, has spearheaded an effort with author and former Valley resident Tim Z. Hernandez to install a new memorial at the grave site, bearing the names of the 28 Mexican citizens.

The diocese is planning a special Mass and dedication of an 8-foot by 4-foot memorial at 10 a.m. Sept. 2 at the cemetery.

Bishop Armando X. Ochoa, of the Diocese of Fresno, said the Mass and dedication will help correct a past wrong.

In a statement, the bishop said, "In death, those 28 lives were changed, with all the circumstances and aspects of their lives."

A plane plunges

The last evidence of the tragedy is a 4-foot-long pipe from the plane's wreckage that sits on a window sill in the Military Room at the R.C. Baker Memorial Museum in Coalinga. More than half of the pipe is smashed pancake-flat.

According to information at the display -- Fresno County's Biggest Air Disaster Happened Here in 1948 -- the plane was a war surplus twin-engine DC-3, designated C-47 by the military. It was owned by Air Transport Carriers, which was under contract with the federal immigration service.

The plane left Oakland Airport bound for Burbank on Jan. 28, 1948. The company had been making routine flights for about a year.

Inmates from the Fresno County Industrial Road Camp near Coalinga were working about a mile east of the camp and described smoke coming from the plane's left wing. The left wing separated and the plane plunged from about 5,000 feet into the canyon.

Area residents volunteered to help with a cleanup mission, burying a few scattered human remains at the scene.

That might've been the final chapter of the tragedy if not for Woodie Guthrie. The internationally known folk musician heard a media report about the crash and paid particular attention to the description of the passengers -- no names, just "deportees."

Guthrie wrote a protest song, "Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)" in 1948. The likes of Pete Seeger, the Byrds, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen covered it over the years, but it wasn't until a man with Valley ties uncovered the story that the effort to name the nameless was born.

Hernandez, an author and poet who was born in Dinuba but now lives in Boulder, Colo., was researching a new book and came across microfilm of The Bee's front-page stories and photos of the disaster.

In July 2012, Hernandez asked Carlos Rascon, director of cemeteries for the Diocese of Fresno, for the names. Rascon, who was new on the job, couldn't find them. In September, Hernandez came to Fresno to visit the grave site.

They worked together to get the names from the Fresno County Hall of Records.

Rascon said the effort pays long-overdue respect to the Mexican victims.

"To us, it's about the dignity, the respect and the treatment of them," he said. "The primary thing is making things right. But it affects people in many different ways."

Hernandez returned to the Valley in April to take part in fundraising for the memorial. He visited Dinuba High School, where a bake sale raised $200. Hernandez also spoke at a benefit concert at Fulton 55, where musician Lance Canales and others performed another rendition of "Deportee."

Hernandez is chronicling the story in a book, "All They Will Call You."

"When that accident happened, it took the media to get the word out, but it took musicians to turn it into a song," Hernandez says. "Now, an author is turning it into a book.

"Art has a way of sustaining history -- and closing history. Sixty-five years have gone by. It just needs to happen for them to find their closure."

About $9,000 has been raised to pay for the memorial ledger and expenses in staging the Mass and dedication. Rascon estimates total costs to be $10,000.

Honoring the 28

On a recent day at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Rascon reached down to clean the grave marker.

It reads, "28 Mexican citizens who died in an airplane accident near Coalinga, California, on Jan. 28, 1948. R.I.P."

That's all.

Rascon said the new memorial, weighing about 4,000 pounds, will feature a picture of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmworkers, as well as the names of the 28 farmworkers. It's modeled after the one installed for Bishop John T. Steinbock at St. Peter's Cemetery.

The names of the crew members and guard also will be inscribed.

Rascon said he is overwhelmed by the generosity of people wanting to help with the effort.

Bell Memorials and Granite Works in Clovis donated inscription work and will bring it to the cemetery. Berry Construction of Madera donated the footing and the foundation work to bear the weight of the memorial.

The Woodie Guthrie Foundation in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., a nonprofit organization that serves as administrator and caretaker of the Woodie Guthrie archives, also is helping with fundraising.

Stephanie McHaney, curator at the R.C. Baker Memorial Museum in Coalinga, said she is grateful for the effort to honor the 28 Mexican citizens.

"It's special," she said. "For many years, you didn't hear about them other than the old stories. Now, it has come back to the surface. They're known now. There are names to go with the people.

"It's about respecting them. There are actual names for people who lost their lives. They're not just forgotten. They're not just lost like some people might have thought."

Read more here:

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: happy? – Jan 29 (Los Gatos crash)
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 08:19 AM

Unreadable. Guest, do they have formatting where you come from?
    Formatting added. -Joe Offer-

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: happy? – Jan 29 (Los Gatos crash)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 08:40 AM

GUEST,Gerry, I doubt that was the most important issue. Besides, you know it's the end-of-line thingy - it may have been fine when written. Beneath you. Personally, I was able to read it fine - I think it was my attending school all the way through third grade that did it for me.

More importantly, this is a good issue. I'm pleased the WWG people are contributing.

"You won't have a name when you ride the big airplane"

Finally they will.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: happy? – Jan 29 (Los Gatos crash)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 06:32 PM

Thank you Offer Guru.
    Your servant I am.
    -Offer Yoda-

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: happy? – Jan 29 (Los Gatos crash)
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 08:22 PM

Thanks, Joe. Abby, that must be the problem --- I skipped third grade. I knew I'd pay for it, sooner or later.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")

Mudcat time: 10 August 2:05 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 2022 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.