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From the Archives: Standard Airlines C-46 crash near Chatsworth

July 12, 1949: The battered fuselage and wing section of a C-46 Standard Airlines passenger plane li
July 12, 1949: The battered fuselage and wing section of a C-46 Standard Airlines passenger plane lies on a mountainside near the Chatsworth Reservoir.
(Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times)

Thirty-five people died after a C-46 Standard Airlines flight crashed about a mile and a half northeast of Chatsworth Reservoir. Thirteen people survived the crash.

The flight left Albuquerque, N.M., at 4:24 a.m. and was en route to the Lockheed Air Terminal in Burbank. At 7:36 a.m. the C-46 was cleared to land. While descending through patchy fog, the right wing struck the side of a hill.

The July 13, 1949, Los Angeles Times reported that shortly before the crash, a fistfight had broken out between two men on board. Survivors later said the fight was not the cause of the crash and that the pilot was flying too low.

Even before the crash, Standard Airlines was scheduled to shut down. The July 13, 1949, Los Angeles Times reported, “Standard Airlines of Long Beach recently had been ordered by the Civil Aeronautics Board to wind up its business by July 20 for regulation violations. An ‘irregular’ (nonscheduled) carrier, it charges $113 for cross-country fare as against a scheduled airline charge of $181.”

July 12, 1949: Krishna Venta (left) and Brother Paul of Fountain of the World Sect give aid in carry
July 12, 1949: Krishna Venta, left, and Brother Paul of the Fountain of the World sect carry one of the plane crash victims to an ambulance. Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA

The Los Angeles Times also reported that arriving emergency personnel were met by an unusual group of helpers.

Many were startled, as they neared the crash scene, to see solemn, bearded, coarse-robed men waving them on.

The volunteer traffic officers were disciples of Krishna Venta, self-styled "Christ," who maintains a monastery in a stone house in Box Canyon only a few hundred yards form the disaster scene.

Krishna Venta and one disciple, Brother Paul, wearing brown and blue robes, respectively, worked actively to extricate the victims' bodies. They strode unflinchingly across the rock-strewn terrain in their bare feet.

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In an Aug. 2, 1999, Los Angeles Times story, survivor Caren Marsh remembered, “After climbing out of the wreckage, she said she thought for a moment she had died because men in long robes were walking around her. Angels, perhaps.”

On Dec. 10, 1958, Krishna Venta and nine others died in a bombing of the WKFL Fountain of the World Monastery in Box Canyon.

An upcoming From the Archives post is on actress Caren Marsh's life after the crash.

This post was originally published on Jan. 26, 2011.

July 12, 1949: The broken line in this illustration published on July 13, 1949, shows the path of th
July 12, 1949: The broken line in this illustration published on July 13, 1949, shows the path of the C-46 after it first hit the hillside to its final resting place. A Los Angeles Times staff artist made this illustration from two photos shot at the C-46 crash. Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA

See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here


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