Crescent Crater Military Plane Crash

Display featuring photographs and text of military plane crash
On Christmas day in 1951, a VC-47A transport left Travis Air Force Base (AFB) in Fairfield, California on a three-day assignment. The flight crew was destined for Great Falls AFB in Montana with two additional passengers. For an unknown reason, the plane instead landed at Fairchild AFB in Spokane, Washington and stayed overnight.

The two passengers remained at Fairchild AFB and five new passengers boarded the return flight the following day. Despite several significant storm warnings along the west coast, the flight departed on December 26, 1951 with eight men on board. The last tracking location was over Klamath Falls, Oregon at 2:17 pm.

The plane crashed approximately one hour later, as determined by two watches later found in the wreckage. Search parties scoured the area until mid-January. By then, severe weather prevented further rescue attempts and the military declared that all men were lost.

The VC-47A wreckage was finally discovered by hikers on May 30, 1952 after the snow had melted away from the ridge of Crescent Crater. The wreckage allowed military personnel to determine that the plane had crashed and became engulfed in flames. The remains of the eight men were removed from the wreckage and taken to the Redding Coroner for formal identification on June 2, 1952.

On August 25, 2018, friends and family honored the eight servicemen who lost their lives in Lassen Volcanic in a special visit to the crash site and a memorial service. This story and related photographs are the courtesy of Jaclyn Morrison in memory of her father, pilot Captain Vernon E. Moe.
Series of four black and white photos of a plane crash on a hillside
Photographs of the military plane wreckage located by hikers on Crescent Crater on May 30, 1952

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Last updated: April 17, 2020