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Pilot and plane reunited 57 years later.

Found wreckage at Rancho Guejito was from 1957 Navy fighter crash
By J. Harry Jones, 6:02 P.M.FEB. 5, 2015

ALLEY CENTER — On Thursday afternoon, in one of the remotest parts of northern San Diego’s backcountry, Robert Jones gently touched the fuselage of the Navy jet fighter he last saw more than 57 years ago as he was ejecting in cloud cover at 12,000 feet.

“I’m sorry,” he said to what was left of the plane, taking off his VFA-146 squadron hat and slightly bowing.

“It’s emotional to look at it honestly,” Jones said. “The airplane was almost new. It has less than 12 hours on it from the factory. It was a shame to lose it.”

It was Nov. 5, 1957, when Jones — then a 22-year-old Navy pilot — and another pilot were testing two new FJ-4B Furys their squadron had recently been issued. The engine on Jones’ plane overheated above Palm Springs.

He glided it back toward what was then Naval Air Station Miramar, but was forced to bail out as westerly winds slowed the plane and caused it to lose altitude. The unmanned jet flew on and out of sight.

The Navy would eventually learn that it crashed at 3,500 feet into the northern part of Rancho Guejito, a roughly 13,000 acre Mexican land grant northeast of Escondido.

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