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ROHRBACK, W. H. ( -1923), was killed in the crash of a Curtiss F-5L flying boat (A-3359) on Santa Catalina Island on January 18, 1923. The crash killed the pilot, Lieutenant Earl B. Brix, and co-pilot, Lieutenant W. H. Rohrback.

According to the wreck report, the flying boat came out of the fog, swerved out to avoid a colission with a sightseeing boat and crashed into rocks. The pilot and copilot died in the crash. Six other crew members were injured.

In the News~

January 18, 1923: “On January 18, 1923, the navy experienced another aircraft loss in Los Angeles County that was weather related. This crash occurred on Santa Catalina Island and involved a large Curtiss F-5L flying boat A-3359 that was assigned to VT-2 at North Island Naval Air Station (NAS) in San Diego County. Eyewitnesses saw the flying boat come out of a fog bank, swerve to avoid a sightseeing boat and crash into large rocks on the shoreline at Abalone Point, southeast of the town of Avalon. The crash killed the pilot, Lieutenant Earl B. Brix, and co-pilot, Lieutenant W. H. Rohrback. One crewman was critically injured, and five others suffered broken bones and severe contusions. It was considered a miracle that anyone survived the impact velocity, estimated to have been about forty miles per hour.” [Macha, G. Pat. Historic Aircraft Wrecks of Los Angeles County, 2014]

January 18, 1923 [El Paso Herald]: “Destroyer will carry airman's body ashore. Los Angeles, Calif., Jan. 19.—The body of Lt. William R. Rohrback, of Norfolk, Va., killed at Avalon, Catalina Islands, when the seaplane F-5-L-2 crashed into a rocky beach in a fog, was to be taken to San Diego on a destroyer today for burial. Several were injured in the accident. They are Lt. H. S. Woodman, whose ankles were broken; Lt. M. B. Gardner, right ankle broken; Lt. L. B. Brix, who suffered cuts and bruises, and gunner W. M. Cole, whose left leg was crushed. Naval surgeons said they expected all to recover. With its sister plane, F-5-L-3, the F-5-L-2 had been shooting targets for the U.S.S. Mississippi. Heavy fogs forced both planes down. They took refuge in Avalon Harbor. They were starting to get underway for San Diego when the accident occurred.”