In Memory

Wallace Dean Bassett - Class Of 1934

Wallace Dean Bassett

Countless times during the past quarter-century, Wallace D Bassett, age 49, flew supplies and passengers to the offshore Santa Cruz Island with its wind-bent pine and eucalyptus trees wreathed in fog and landed on its uphill grass strip airport.

Bassett, the acknowledged dean of pilots flying light planes between the mainland and the Channel Islands, had a healthy respect for the hazard - quick forming fog and gusty winds.

March 8, 1966, Bassett's plane crashed on the desolate, fog-shrouded western end of Santa Cruz, carrying the pilot and his five passengers to their deaths. A short time later, another small plane crashed on the island after depositing its two passengers safely. Its pilot, RL Wallace, also was killed.

The passengers were members of a hunting party planning to shoot wild board and merino sheep on the 60,000-acre island, largest of the channel island chain about 709 miles off the southern California coast.

A third pilot, John Grentzler did not try to land with his passengers because of the fog. He went back to the mainland then returned to find some of the wreckage.

The victims of the crash of Bassett's plane included Gordon Ridge and Ted Schatt, a pair of California hunting guides. Also killed were Jack L Wheeler, Dr John C Russell, and Claude G Casey, all of Las Vegas.

Salinas Californian, March 9, 1966