Fast Facts: San Miguel Island’s “Lost Liberator”
CHANNEL ISLANDS — One of the Channel Islands – San Miguel Island – was the site of a plane crash. The plane: a bomber belonging to the U.S. Army Air Forces.
The B-24 Liberator was lost on July 5, 1943. She was dispatched out of Salinas Army Air Base that day to search for another B-24 – Eddie Rickenbacker – which went missing during a training mission off the Santa Barbara coast the previous evening.
Foggy conditions apparently caused Liberator to crash into San Miguel Island’s Green Mountain. The mountain’s peak is 817 feet and Liberator was believed to be flying at a 500-foot altitude.
Officials reportedly required eight months to recover wreckage of the plane – and the bodies of the 12 men aboard.
Those 12 men will be honored on July 5 of this year – exactly 75 years after they crashed into Santa Miguel Island.
Eddie Rickenbacker’s wreckage was eventually found on the mainland, 10 miles north of Santa Barbara. Fuel shortage reportedly caused the bomber’s crash. Her crew, according to a report, parachuted from the plane prior to the crash. Eight of the bomber’s airmen reportedly survived.
Santa Barbara Maritime Museum will host an event commemorating the lost flight of Liberator. The “Salute to San Miguel Island’s Lost Liberator” event will be held July 5, 4-6 p.m., at the museum. Santa Cruz Island Foundation, Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation and the museum sponsor the event.