Made famous by the TV series Baa Baa Black Sheep,
the Corsair's hallmark--an inverted gull wing--is unmistakable.
Navy reserve pilot William H Anderson was assigned to Los Alamitos
Naval Air station, serving two weeks' training duty. On July 5, 1949, he
took off on a routine training flight in the company of three other
Corsairs headed for San Diego. On the return trip, he developed engine trouble
about a mile offshore. Despite moving his mixture control to full rich,
the engine would not perform well enough to return to the airport and he
prepared for a water landing near a fishing boat about a 1/2 mile off Crystal Cove.
After a sucessful water landing, the plane began to sink
immediately. He inflated his Mae West, but had to deflate one side
in order to release his harness and left his parachute in the plane.
Fortunately, he escaped without injury and was
picked up minutes later from a shore launch.
His plane lay undisturbed until its discovery by a pair of divers from
El Toro Marine base in late 1960 or early 1961. They reported that
the plane contained guns, a parachute and possibly a body, prompting the
Navy to investigate further. In January 1961, the minesweeper USS
Loyalty was sent to investigate and a Navy diver confirmed that the
plane was an F4-U Corsair. In 1962, Tommy Thompson of the Navy's
diving unit salvaged the engine from the plane using a cable and salvage
tug, hoping to identify the plane by the many data plates attached to the
According the December 1977 issue of Skin Diver magazine, the
Corsair was rediscovered in March 1974. At the time, the plane was
described as largely intact, with some damage to the tail section. Skin
Diver again revisited again in February 1981, stating that the wreck
had deteriorated greatly in the past years. Unfortunately, the plane
lays in popular fishing grounds and is frequently hooked by anchors.
The plane has been incorrectly identified as piloted by Lt. George
Mortan who lost his Corsair on May 20, 1947. Mortan flew over the
ocean with poor visibility, became disoriented, and ran out of gas.
He successfully ditched his plane 110 yards north of the Balboa pier (off
6th street) without injury. A a
side scan survey of the area failed to locate anything on the bottom near
the pier and Mortan's plane is believed to have been salvaged.