Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Fanny Bay, BC, Canada.
I've forgotten when the jet went down near Mount Albert Edward – sometime in the early ‘80s, I think -- but I was working for the Comox Valley Record in 1991 or 92 when a helicopter pilot spotted the tail of a California Air National Guard fighter (I think a T33) sticking out of the snow. The chopper pilot landed, walked around, and found a partial skeleton in a flight suit still strapped into the pilot's seat. The name tag on the flight suit read "Mendez". I got the original crash story from the Campbell River Mirror and confirmed that the plane was flying out of CFB Comox when it crashed and that it belonged to the California Air Guard and the pilot's name was Mendez.
The Mirror story had a detail that creeped me out; it said Capt. Mendez’s remains were returned to his family in California. You see the problem; if Mendez was sent back to California, who is the guy in the flight suit on Mount Albert Edward? Conversely, if Mendez is on the mountain, who was sent back to California? I confirmed that the airplane was a two-seater and wondered if there might have been a clandestine hitchhiker aboard. However, a guy at CFB Comox said the truth was probably simpler, but more gruesome. People who die in that kind of airplane crash are generally pretty badly mauled in the impact. Searchers often don’t find all of them, but send back whatever remains they can find. I think that is likely what happened here; according to Canadian Department of Transport photos, the airplane was kind of smeared down the mountain.
I didn't contact the Americans about the crash, so I have no idea whether or not they cleaned up any wreckage or were secretive about reports, but I recall getting the Canadian DOT report which was very thorough and included a lot of photos. I doubt if the U.S. did much cleaning up because the body wasn't found 1991 or 92.