Plane Crash Site above Saratoga, CA (F-2H Banshee, Lt James Wyley, 1959)

Airplane crashes were much more common just a few decades ago than they are today, prior to more sophisticated navigation technologies. The hills in the San Francisco area are steep and often shrouded in fog. This has resulted in a handful of crash sites, including some that are (relatively) less well-known.

In the immediate Silicon Valley area there’s an F-9 Panther in the East Bay hills and a DC-6 passenger plane. Both are easily accessible from the trail, both with just a few pieces not having been carried away. There are also bits of an F-4 Phantom (, as well as an elusive F-2 Banshee, both of which are not widely known (and will stay that way). I’ve also recently found that there’s an F4U Corsair wreck on private property on Mt Thayer )

About 5 years ago I met a “wreckchaser” who was kind enough to take me to the location of the F-2H Banshee in the hills above Saratoga, CA. The “code of honor” of wreckchasers, as well as visitors to pristine Native American sites, is to reveal the location only to those who will respect the site and to not make it any easier to find than it already is.

Enough of the background story!

On this particular day I decided to pay a second visit to the site and take a few more pictures than the last time.

Somewhere off of Skyline Boulevard I parked the car


…visited an un-marked location of Native American “grinding rocks”


…and began the very steep bushwhacking to the site. (I thought this was a circa-1960 Renault Dauphine, but I don’t see the air intakes in front of the rear wheels. It’s small and European and all the markings are gone…It turns out it’s an “NSU Prinz”, which was a German company that merged into Audi. Credit to several members of


Eventually, after some seriously steep route-finding and “hanging onto small trees so you don’t slide down the hill”, I saw the bits and pieces


..and an engine


…and some late 1950’s aviation electronics


…and a few other objects that were placed on a rock by others



“Assembly No” and “Inspection” still readable after 56 years


A red tow hook from the front landing gear, perhaps?


Control surfaces from a wing section



…and finally, the tail, which is located uphill a bit. It’s the largest remaining piece


If you look on the left side of the tail (underneath), you’ll see a small brass plaque in the middle of the red painted area:


This small memorial was placed here by the Wreckchaser that first brought me to this place.


Navy Lt. James Wyley died here on February 22, 1959. Please respect the site. Leave only footprints, take only photos.



About AlphaRoaming

Random outdoor roaming: hiking, cycling, camping, backpacking & plotting more of the above Grew up on the edges of the Adirondack mountains of New York, just a bit west of Vermont. Now living in Silicon Valley and venturing out when and where I can!
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6 Responses to Plane Crash Site above Saratoga, CA (F-2H Banshee, Lt James Wyley, 1959)

  1. The looks like a FIAT 1100.

  2. Pingback: Flight 802 Memorial Site (Bishop, CA) | AlphaRoaming

  3. Mj Thati says:

    Went here yesterday. Very cool to check out thanks for sharing.

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