Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Borrego Springs - Navy Jets Collide Over Valley; Pilots Escape Uninjured


Last updated 8/11/2015 at 3:19pm

This story was featured in the March issue of the Borrego Sun in 1962.

"Two Navy jet pilots parachuted to safety on the floor of Borrego Valley last month after their planes collided in midair.

The two F8U Crusader jet fighter-interceptors from Miramar Naval Air Station crashed in the valley but caused no structural damage.

A piece of wreckage cut a power line, and the north end of the valley was without electricity for several hours. The flaming wreckage started two small brush fires, but these were extinguished.

The ejection seat from one plane narrowly missed George Martin and a friend who were standing outside the Jackson Electric Co. store on Stirrup Road. It crashed next to Norman Gilbert's warehouse.

One plane crashed on the David Freeman Co. ranch just off DiGiorgio Road. Holly Baker, company foreman, said the vineyard suffered extensive damage from both the impact and the leakage of fuel from the plane.

The other plane landed in the desert about 1/3 mile northwest of Christmas Circle and about 1/2 mile from the home of Rear Adm. William P. Burford, USN, ret. Both pilots landed safely between the schoolhouse and the Ensign Ranch and were picked up there by Morrie Oller, assistant supervisor of Anza-Borrego State Park ranger. They were later returned to their base by the a Coast Guard plane.

The pilots, Lt. (jg) Robert Bengston, 24, of San Diego and Marine 1st Lt. Clifford A. Jackson, 29, of Anaheim said their planes were rendezvousing at about 25,000 feet after completion of a training mission when the crash occurred.

The accident occurred shortly after 5 p.m. Feb. 27."

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