Denver, CO Bomber Crashes Into Homes, Dec 1951

Ruins of Bomber Crash

BOMBER SMASHES INTO SWANK DENVER HOMES.

Denver, Dec. 3. (AP) -- A B-29 bomber trying to reach Lowry airforce base with one motor not working crashed into a row of swank residential homes today, apparently killing eight airmen. At least one civilian and five airmen were injured. Five houses were damaged -- four of them demolished.

Denver, Dec. 3. (AP) -- A B-29 bomber smashed into a row of swank Denver homes Monday and first reports said that nine persons aboard the plane were killed and two babies were believed trapped in one of the burning houses.
The information came from Police Capt. JAMES E. CHILDERS, who was one of the officers directing rescue operations.
"I can't vouch for the reports," he told newsmen.
CHILDERS said he was informed the plane carried a crew of 14 persons and that five had been saved from the flames.
Four houses were set on fire.
An eyewitness, MRS. S. G. BROOKS, said the plane appeared to hit the treetops and explode, shooting flames high into the air.
In New District.
The accident occurred near Eudora and Bayaud streets in a new residential district made up of modernistic and ranch type homes.
MRS. HOMER H. OWEN, who lives half a block from the crash scene, said four homes caught fire.
"It's terrible," said MRS. OWEN a few minutes after the crash. She was talking on the telephone at the time of the accident and did not see it.
"I thought from the terrible noise it was going to hit our house," she reported.
The first eyewitness account of the crash came from a woman who was standing several miles away on a knoll. MRS. S. G. BROOKS said she first noticed the plane flying very low.
"It seemed to hit the treetops and just exploded and the flames shot high into the air. Everything was flames. I've never seen anything like it."
She fixed the time of the crash at 11:20 a.m., MST.

The Post Reporter Idaho Falls Idaho 1951-12-03

Continued on Page 2.

Comments

1951 Air Crash - Denver

I was a student at Graland Country Day School and saw this crash from my class room window. It was truly frightening to see. I will never forget it!

I would like a printable copy of the newspaper article, if at all possible.

Thank you.

article

if you send me an email .. I will send you a copy of the article on an attachment ..
Stu

Denver Air Crash 1951

My dad was a staff sergeant in the Air Force and was sitting in the navagator's seat of this plane when it crashed. He told me that the nose of the plane next to where he was seated just opened up and he walked out almost unharmed. He went back into the burning plane and rescued the crew chief. The chief then went back in and pulled out the pilot and copilot, but they both died. The tailgunner was the only other airman who survived the crash and this took an adrenaline enhanced effort by someone on the grond who broke through the reinforced glass at the back of the plane with a pipewrench and pulled him to safety.

My dad never told me the details of how horrific this crash really was. It's a miracle anybody survived. My dad passed away last week and we buried him yesterday with military honors. I know he felt guilty that he did not go back into the burning plane and help the crew chief, but given the terror he no doubt felt, I think he did okay under the circumstances.

December 1951 B-29 Bomber Crash in Denver

My Father was stationed at Lowry AFB in 1951 and was originally scheduled as the Tailgunner for this B-29 flight in December. At the last minute, he was removed from Tailgunner duty and given a new assignment as B-29 Gunnery School Instructor. I believe he has always wondered what would have happened had this last minute assignment change not occured. The new assignment allowed him to attend school in Los Angeles, where he married his high school sweetheart on December 20, before moving on to the Atomic Bomb Wing in Mountain Home, Idaho where he instructed airmen on the plane's gun systems for the remainder of his 4 year hitch. The word he received was the surviving Tailgunner was burned over 90% of his body following the accident. Unfortunately, the Tailgunner section of the plane was also home to a large gasoline drum to be used for an emergency generator in the event of electrical power loss during bombing missions. Almost every section of this state-of-the-art bomber depended on electrical power, and without an emergency generator the plane was virtually a sitting duck if hit in the right spot. I was told he was soaked with the gasoline from this drum and was protected from the flames, while in this section of the plane. He knew he had to get out of the plane somehow, so himself and others on the ground finally managed his escape from the pod. Unfortunately, when finally got out of the plane the flames outside the pod inginited his gasoline soaked body. It is obvious my Father thinks about his replacement on that day quite a bit, especially now at the end of his life. He is 76 years old now and has been married to his sweetheart (and my Mother) ever since their marriage only days after this tragic accident occurred. It seems to me he is on a personal quest to find out as much as he can about this day in the twilight of his life. He has asked me to find a copy of the Denver Post article which includes the details of this event. But any paper would be fine, I'm sure. So if anyone out there happens to have a copy of any account of this tragic day, can you please let me know. Thank you.

bomber crash

I was a student gunner on that crew in 1951. This was a student training flight, composed, alphbetically, of r's and s's. The names ot the students were, Snyder, Sylvia, Surber, Rutledge, Snyder, Allen, Ablondi, I can't remember all. There were two James Snyder's, one from Alabama, and one from Loveland. Ohio. Myself and James Snyder from Ohio, were removed from this flight to attend training in the altitude chamber that day. We were replaced by Allen and Ablondi. Ablondi was killed, but Allen survived. He was severly burned, and recieved treatment for years at Military burn centers. I saw him many times during the next 4 years. 1/Lt. Bob Snure was the co-pilot on the plane. He married a girl from Alpine, Tx, where I grew up, and I knew him personnsly. He was severly injured, and never got over it. His wife had to leave him because of the kids.

More On Crash

Mr. Rutledge comments are interesting. My father, Jack Stanley, was a high altitude chamber instructor. He was not part of this crew and was just along for the ride. I'm not sure why. Perhaps he took the flight because of the opening created on the plane when Mr. Rutledge and Mr. Snyder attended the class that day.

B-29 crash

We lived at 511 Dexter Street, about 6 blocks from the crash. I was very young, but I remember my dad piling us in the car and driving up to where the street was blocked. He left Mom and me in the car, but the vivid memory I have is one of the engines suspended from a giant crane illuminated by spotlights which had been set up to allow work at night. The other thing I remember is the house across the street whose roof had been hit by one of the landing gear. It tore a small section out of the roof, but the rest of the house was intact. The roof was repaired, but for years you could see the scar on the roof because the shingles were a different color/age.

Footage of Denver B-29 Bomber Crash

I have some amateur footage of this plane crash shot on 16mm color film immediately after the crash. In searching around online I also found a small bit of a professional black and white newsreel that also covered the crash. You can view the newsreel on this page:

http://www.buyoutfootage.com/pages/titles/pd_nr_209.html

One of the survivors

My uncle, Joe Wiggins, is the last person on the list of the wounded. He was a gunnery instructor and was supposed to be in the section of the plane where everyone was killed, but the radio operator, who was visiting that section complained about having to crawl through the long tunnel to get back to the radio operator's seat for the landing.

Joe volunteered to swap with him, crawled through the tunnel and had no idea that the airplane was in trouble. He was sitting in the only seat in the airplane that had no window.

The pilot knew the #4 engine was dead and feathered the prop to stop it from spinning in the wind, but didn't know that the #3 engine was also dead. It spun in the wind almost as fast as the two functional engines.

He was having problems flying straight enough to not destroy the landing gear, so he radioed ahead to warn that he intended to attempt a belly landing with gear up. It was apparently common that in belly landings, the radio operator would be crushed by the bottom, forward turret coming up through the floor.

But the pilot got more control over the airplane and decided to lower the landing gear.

The B29 has three electric generators. One in each of the two inner engines (#2 and #3) and the emergency generator in the rear. The pilot didn't think to power up the emergency generator. Lowering the landing gear put a load on the two functional generators, stopping #3 from spinning, and killing #2.

A B29 won't fly with one engine. That's why it crashed.

The nose wheel lowered far enough to save my uncle. He woke up sufficiently traumatized that he numbly shoved radio equipment off his lap, unbelted his seat belt and walked through the broken windows of the cockpit. He walked away from the plane and laid down, vaguely following his memories of what he was trained to do in case of a crash.

With three broken ribs, a gash over his eye and a cut leg, he may have been the least seriously injured man on the plane, though he was originally listed as missing.

He's still quite alive and active; the luckiest person in one of the unluckiest places.