E-mail is a great
thing. As people get connected, they tend to find old friends on the
Internet that they haven’t seen for years. That’s the case with Ron Leyburn.
He somehow stumbled onto my website and emailed me when he found it.
We hadn’t seen each other in a lot of years.
One thing that we had in common, was our fascination with a WWII Corsair
airplane that we had heard went down in the deep woods south of South Lake
back in the late 40's. Many expeditions were made, chasing after hunter’s
stories of having stumbled onto the wreckage of the Corsair.
We searched the newspaper archives and finally found this article.
Ron made many trips up into the woods and finally found it. I was
among the last people to get up to the site before the State Police and museum
hunters finally carried away the last bits and pieces.
Ron had taken a series of pictures in his Corsair-quest, and I asked him
if he’d email the scans to me. Following, are the scans with the remarks
he made with each email:
f4u23.jpg This was the start of an early bush
wacking trip before the plane was located, as I recall it ended up on the
eastern end of Twin Lakes. On one of these early trips we found an old campsite
where one of the wing ammo access doors was found. I understood that there
was a canopy from a jet which ejected in this same area. In addition the lost
hunter Bob Potter who was never found, in the same area. I was in south of
the South Branch 17 times, it was wild and beautiful country to navigate
in with just a top map and two compasses.
f4u1.jpg Sending this to establish contact.
Will take some time to scan and commit to hard drive all pictures,
Many more coming; will send when time permits. This is the fuel pump,
rudder pedal, two hard points (rockets) and launching hook which the NY state
ranger brought out in early 70s on large manhunt for lost hunter Bob Potter.
f4u2.jpg This is the second transmit, let me know
if you receive ok.
f4u3.jpg Good pic of joy stick which I extracted
from a hole full of water which was initial impact, later view of intact
wheel at same location. The number 2 is apparently an ammo box cover. White
"hard point" is part of white star on wing. I blow these up for real good
f4u4.jpg The launching hook was probably attached
to the main spar and was lying loose when Ranger Tom Oatman from Camden
found it. He had it in a pack close to where he was reading the compass
and they ended up in the "swamp" heading for the South Lake road after dark
When Eric Mynter laid his compass on a stump and found they were going in
the wrong direction. There were three NY State Rangers dropped from a chopper
west of the crash site to investigate for lost hunter who was hunting from
a camp on the South Lake rd.
f4u5.jpg Point of impact at bottom of picture,
deep hole full of water. Note the one main gear which we pulled up with a
half ton comealong and found it to be in original condition and functioning.
Found joy stick in this hole out of sight and still fastened on one side
which took some doing to take apart with small crescent wrench.
f4u6.jpg R 2800 Pratt Whitney engine.
All the pictures that I send re: Corsiar 52927 were taken between 1985
and 1990. Don't have exact dates. Yours truly in this shot.
f4u7.jpg Three barreled carb and remainder of
one landing gear, the other was completely intact.
f4u8.jpg Larry (woodworm) Kirk conducting
a forensic study.
f4u9.jpg Armor plate from behind the seat. Note
the wood toward the top which was part of the head rest. Yours truly
f4u10.jpg Larry Kirk with the largest piece (rear
fusalage) from cockpit back
f4u11.jpg Larry Kirk with PW R 2800, note chumk
of prop that I stood up against a sapling.
f4u12.jpg On the way out after a day at the wreck
site, 2 hour trip each way, Hip boots over the shoulder which I hid
after crossing the South Branch of the Black River.
f4u13.jpg Tail section: note access doors and
tail cone is missing (it was removed not from crash) Eddie Binks from North
Lake took a Trainor relative of Lesters in years ago and they took the tail
hook out, it is my understanding that Eddie charged 35 bucks for the guide
trip. Long before you guys went in to the plane I stopped and asked Eddie
directions to the site from a top map and I ended up way south of the site,
wild goose chase but fun.
f4u14.jpg 50 cal taken by Marine contingent person
from Mattydale reserve base while removing all machine guns from site.
f4u15.jpg Crossing South Branch of Black River
on the way back from crash site, note flat open forest ahead leading to
big hill and logging road. River low at this time. Holding parachute cord
to send hip boots back over to other hiker in plastic bag.
f4u16.jpg Looking south toward the side where
the plane is, this is Lee Mappes in the shallow part clowning, return trip.
Notice here that the land slants up where the other side is across the flat.
f4u17.jpg Just starting 2 hr trip into F4U, just
off South Lake on old road (logging trail).
f4u18.jpg Lunch time at the site.
f4u19.jpg Lunch time, sitting on the belly armor
plate, about 75 lbs, we tried to protect our pilots. Carrying 357 magnum,
lots of bears in this country. Early spring and they could be hungry or
f4u20.jpg Engine in fore ground and fuselage
f4u22.jpg no remarks
f4u24.jpg Gun arming switches. This film was
Oct. 1986, early trip.
f4u25.jpg South Branch of Black. Very pretty.
f4u26.jpg Les Trainor's back entrance with the
F4U rudder hung up. I guess this piece was 8' long and Les carried it out
(2 hrs). This was not long before he eventually had both knees and both
f4u27.jpg Close up of F4U rudder. This piece
could be repaired and recovered! There was some wiring and the trim tab
This is the last one unless sometime I find some other pertinent pictures.
Thanks, Ron, for the memories.
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