Nininger Moment #23 Not All Of Nininger Hunts Are Smooth, The Trip To Loreto, Baja California

Often turning his travels, letters from various people, and talking to farmers, ranchers and many other sources, Nininger would run into stories about where a meteorite was thought to exist if he would only go and check it out. Early on he often would make special effort to check out such stories but in his later years of experience, he would often ask questions and catalog an area to investigate when it sounded reasonable. Such was the case of the Loreto Meteorite which was mentioned to Nininger by an oil man John B. Quinn.

Two years after hearing about a 150 lb meteorite that laid in a man’s yard, Nininger and his wife addie made a trip down to Guaymas on the Mexican mainland and from there Nininger would fly across to the Baja peninsula to Santa Rosalia. The trip to Loreto he was assisted by Quinn’s friend a superintendent of a large cooper mine named Peter Mahieux. On the commute by cargo plane to Santa Rosalia, Nininger and Mr. Mahieux had time to talk and Mahieux himself had a small meteorite he gave to Nininger as a gift which turned up to be the Pallasite variety from the village of Ignacio

The following day Mr. Mahieux drove Nininger by truck, 20 miles south to where a young Mexican maintain a machine shop. The young man had been employed by the cooper mine in the past but had been let go which Nininger would be told of later. The young man had been a pilot flying the plane they had flew on to commute from the peninsula to the mainland. Mr. Mahieux explained to Nininger that he would be flown in a plane that the young Mexican had built himself out of crashed airplanes and auto parts but he was the best pilot Mr. Mahieux knew. Nininger expressed concern over this but because Mr. Mahieux had gone so far out of his way and assured Nininger of the young Mexican’s qualifications, Nininger accepted his hosts words.

On inquiring about why the young man had been let go Mr. Mahieux told Nininger that the young Mexican had on several occasions played a very disturbing trick with the passengers he flew. He would take off with a group of people then when out in the middle of the 100 mile wide gulf he would topple over and pretend to be unconscious, until all the passengers were all near hysterics. The young Mexican seem to derive great fun from this activity. It would be this young man and Nininger who would fly to Loreto along with a retired navy captain and a young geologist who accompanied them on other business.

The trip down was uneventful and upon arrival Nininger contacted a padre who spoke some broken english and helped him to contact one of Mahieux former employees who guided Nininger to a Senor Davis, whose yard the meteorite rested. It was a true meteorite and was heavier than Nininger had been told, weighing out at 209 lbs. A price was reached and arrangements were made to ship the large meteorite back to Nininger’s home. Nininger soon returned to the flying field at a time that was agreed upon by the parties flying back. All were there except for the pilot who was last seen in a bar about an hour ago. After many uncomplimentary comments about the pilot, the group went and retrieved the young Mexican from the bar and they noted he seemed to be in fair shape. He was taken to lunch an only allowed to drink coffee.

After lunch the group went back promptly to the plane where the young Mexican took off without a hitch. While in the air he instructed the geologist to “take over the wheel” while he rolled himself a cigarette. The geologist refused and the young Mexican
simply shifted the wheel over to him. Nininger and the navy captain had a good view of the back of the geologists head and neck, noting that the neck had turned beet red. Nininger stated that he had never so strongly wanted to hit a man over the head as he did the young Mexican but as he told the navy captain, “what good would that do”? Mean while the plane wavered, the young Mexican leaned back and enjoyed the cigarette he had rolled, reaching over to right the plane at the hand of the protesting geologist. Nininger stated that the flight was only 35 or 40 minutes but the three passengers during the flight lived as many days. Upon arrival a perfect landing was made but none of the passengers felt incline to thank their young pilot.

The Loreto meteorite was said to have been found from the site in the mountains about 6 hours ride by mules from the nearest ranch on the gulf shore. It was also told that a larger iron, too heavy to move was also at that site. Nininger said that from the Loreto specimen he bought, it was obvious that it had been torn from a larger mass and that the story of a larger mass seem to make sense. Enough sense that later in 1964 and 1965 that Nininger tried to track down the larger mass of Loreto. As with other meteorite hunts, the larger mass was never located. Nininger felt that someday maybe erosion or someone knowledgeable would come upon the mass and it would be brought to civilization to view.

The Nininger Moments are articles or books written originally by Harvey Nininger and put into a consolidated form by Al Mitterling. Some of the items written in the moments might be old out dated material and the reader is advised to keep this in mind. Source: Find A Falling Star

–AL Mitterling

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