Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
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Air Mail Mishap Over Castaic.
Pilot Parachutes to Safety; $750,000 in Cargo Recovered.


Webmaster's note.


A surviving Ryan M-1 mailplane from the Pacific Air Transport fleet, on display in the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum, Creve Coeur airport, Mo. Photo by RuthAS. Click to enlarge.

The short-lived Pacific Air Transport line used a fleet of 10 Ryan M-1 mail planes to carry mail and passengers from Seattle to Los Angeles. Pacific Air Transport was founded in January 1926 by Vern C. Gorst, operator of an Oregon bus line, and it went into operation Sept. 15, 1926. The company was never sufficiently profitable; three of the 10 planes, including the one discussed here, were lost by the end of 1927. Bill Boeing took control of the company on Jan. 1, 1928, and added six 4-passenger Boeing 40Bs to the fleet. Pacific Air Transport merged into Boeing Air Transport on Dec. 17, 1928, but kept its own name.

Local historian Jason Brice notes that the Ryan M-1 mailplanes were built in the same Ryan factory in San Diego that produced Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis. In fact, aviator T. Claude Ryan's first employee was William Hawley Bowlus, who would superintend the construction of the Spirit of St. Louis in 1927. Of local note, Bowlus and Lindbergh were in Lebec to test an experimental glider in 1930 as seen [here].



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Airmail Pilot Jumps Safely In Parachute.

Los Angeles, Oct. 26. — Dick Bowman, air mail pilot, missing for more than 11 hours, is safe at Castaic, Calif., he telephoned officials of the Pacific Air Transport company here late today.

Bowman told the officials that he was forced to make a parachute jump from 9,000 feet when his plane got beyond control in a heavy fog in the mountains north of Saugus. He landed without injury near Castaic, he said.

Bowman reported he had no idea what happened to his plane after he left it in midair and a fleet of cars was ordered from here to Castaic to aid in the search for it. The craft carried 75 pounds of mail in its cargo.

In this brief statement over the phone, Bowman declared that flying conditions were very unfavorable when he took off from Saugus and that he was completely blinded by fog when he reached the vicinity of his fall.

He estimated he was about 9,000 feet in the air when he lost all control of the machine and decided to take to his parachute.

Bowman left Saugus at 1:10 a.m. enroute to Bakersfield, Fresno, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. He had been missing more than 11 hours when the first word was received from him.

News story courtesy of Jason Brice.



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Pilot Deserts Plane.

San Francisco, Cal., Oct. 29 — (AP) — Airplanes from San Francisco and Riverside and searchers from national guard, fire patrol and postal departments [sic] units from Los Angeles, were scouring mountains and canyons in the vicinity of Castaic, Los Angeles county today for the plane that Charles R. Bowman, air mail pilot, abandoned in mid-air Wednesday when he feared the ship would crash.

Advices received here today from Verne Gorst, president of the Pacific Air Transport company, air mail lessee, stated that a reward of $200 had been offered for the recovery of the missing plane and its mail. Gorst was in Bakersfield taking part in the hunt.

The company officials here declared they might find the plane miles from the point at which Bowman landed after his 9,000-foot leap. It was possible, they declared, that the pilot had not shut off the motor completely and that in that case the machine could have continued a long ways before diving to earth.

News story courtesy of Jason Brice.



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$750,000 Mail Cargo Is Found.

Los Angeles, Nov. 5 — (AP) — After a ten day search an airmail cargo including securities valued at $750,000 has been salvaged in the mountains north of here where the ship crashed. The plane became lost in the fog between here and San Francisco and Charles R. Bowman, pilot, was forced to use his parachute at 9,000 feet. He landed safely, but was unable to locate his plane.

Searchers finally located the wreckage and although the mail bags were buried in the sand with an engine, they were intact.

News story courtesy of Jason Brice.



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Leaps, Lives.

Charles R. Bowman, night airmail pilot on the Pacific coast line, leaped 7,200 feet in a parachute through the dense fog in the California mountains to a safe landing when his plane became unmanageable. He landed on a steep mountainside, held his position until daylight, then walked miles to give the alarm.

News story courtesy of Jason Brice.


CRIME BLOTTER

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3-Fingered Bob Slays Acton Rival 1889

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Death in Newhall Pass 1906

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Unruly Acton Boys 1909

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Aqueduct Worker Beaten, Robbed by Cohort 1910

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Trouble With Wobblies 1916

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$20 Fine for CCW 1921

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Manhunt 1924

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Rancher Wade Albert Horton Slain 1930

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Frances Walker Slaying 1935

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More: Frances Walker Slaying 1935

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German Enemy Aliens Arrested in Castaic, 12-8-1941

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Hart 'Aces' Gang Busted 1950

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Alpha Beta 1983

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