The Plane Crash Project

Historical/ Biography/ Memoir

This is a large scale ongoing project that involves numerous collaborators and entities, in both the United States and Mexico.  Since 2010, I have been dedicated to researching and locating the families of the victims of all 32 passengers killed in the famous 1948 plane wreck at Los Gatos Canyon. My first installment of this narrative was All They Will Call You, published in 2017 by the University of Arizona Press. I am currently working on book two of the series. I also produce, direct, and perform in a staged adaptation of the book, although since the pandemic struck I have not been able to travel and showcase this for the past two years. I hope to bring it to audiences again soon. In 2018, the California Latino Legislative Caucus, with the support of Senator William Monning, held a formal recognition ceremony on the floor of the California State Senate in Sacramento. Family members of some of the passengers were present, as well as folk singer, Joan Baez. That video can be seen here.  

This project centers around the famous 1948 plane crash in Los Gatos Canyon, Fresno County, which took the lives of 32 passengers, 28 who were “Mexican Nationals.” This is the same crash made famous by Woody Guthrie and Martin Hoffman, in the song “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (The Deportee Song),” which has been recorded by musicians such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Dolly Parton, Joan Baez, and Pete Seeger. You can listen to the version that my good friend Lance Canales recorded, and the incredible video which features me reading the names in the background here.

Me standing in the exact location of where the plane crashed.

Standing at the crash site in 2011

In the past decade I have accumulated hundreds of records, files, personal testimonies, documents, photographs, and ephemera of this single incident. As of my book’s publication in 2017, I had located the families of seven of the passengers, and as of 2022, I have since located six more. My search continues… Enjoy some of the photos from this life long project and journey, and please check back here for updated info.

* * * * *


11 responses to “The Plane Crash Project

  1. This is magnificent! I’m looking for an e-mail address for you, Tim. If you can e-mail me at, I can tell you more about what we’re doing that’s similar. You’re my new hero!

  2. Hi Mr Tim. It was very informative reading about the plane crash and the fact that you have all the names of the victims. Great job. Thank you so much

  3. Hi, Tim! I will be teaching this book for a college writing class in Trinidad, CO. You’ve given me a unique teaching opportunity with this book. I especially appreciate that you are very clear about what and how you researched and that creating this book was a lengthy process. Thanks! Lisa

  4. Tim – I was up all night finishing “All They Will Call You.” It was fascinating, insightful and moving. As you say, sometimes perception is more accurate than the “facts”.

    Your book connected with me on many levels, bringing back thoughts of my father (now 95) teaching me about Woody; hearing the song, from Joan Baez’s and Arlo’s recordings in my college days right through hearing Joan Baez sing it poignantly here in New Mexico recently as part of her 75th birthday tour (wearing her “Nasty Woman” tee shirt); and thinking of my own four grandparents, who all came here from Eastern Europe pursuing their own dreams.

    It’s particularly powerful — and sad — to finish your book and write this note today, when the current Regime (I can’t bring myself to call this an Administration) is stomping on the hopes of a new generation of Dreamers.

    I look forward to reading more of your writing, and hope to hear when you’ll be in New Mexico speaking again.

    Thanks again for writing a beautiful and important book.

  5. Thank you so much for doing this. We’re having a super-vigil in support of immigrants and refugees this Saturday at the Methodist Church in Bayside NY. I would like to ask everyone there to remember the people who died over Los Gatos Canyon by saying some of their names. Is there any chance you could tell me a few of them, maybe five or six? Thanks! David@DavidRYale.Com

    • Tim Z. Hernandez, author of the 2017 book All They Will Call You, which uncovers the names and stories of the unnamed individuals who perished in the Los Gatos Canyon crash.

  6. Thank you, Tim, for such a quietly powerful book. You gave the injustices great impact by focusing on the suffering and joy of real people. No-one should be treated as a non-entity.
    Thank you for including the story of the song, and of Martin Hoffman and Pete Seeger. I grew up in Ft. Collins, and may possibly have been at the concert where they met – my folks were big fans, and I have a clear but unverifiable memory of going to a Seeger concert when I was very small. Beyond the specifics of the crash, it’s good to be reminded of the power of a single troubled voice, and the hidden links between all lives.

  7. Hey Tim 😉
    Too many sychronicities today point me your way today!
    Hope you are well and love to hear what you are doing…
    Are you in California/Los Gatos area? I am right around the corner in Santa Cruz. Cant find your email to connect…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s