St. Louis, MO Glider Crash Kills Ten, Aug 1943

TEN ARE KILLED IN GLIDER CRASH.

MAYOR OF ST. LOUIS IS AMONG VICTIMS.

St. Louis, Aug. 1. -- (U.P.) -- Ten presons, including the mayor of St. Louis and the president of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, were killed Sunday in a glider crash before an estimated 10,000 horrified spectators at Lambert-St. Louis municipal airport.
The 10 passengers were riding in the glider during the first public demonstration of the St. Louis-made cargo-type airport.
The victims are Mayor WILLIAM DEE BECKER; THOMAS DYSART of the chamber of commerce; Major WILLIAM B. ROBERTSON, president of the ROBERTSON Aircraft corporation and cofounder of Lambert field; Lieutenant Colonel PAUL H. HAZELTON, miscellaneous area officer of the army air force; MAX DOYNE of the St. Louis public utilities department; CHARLES CUNNINGHAM, assistant city comptroller; St. Louis County Judge HENRY MUELLER; HAROLD A. KRUEGER, vice president and general manager of the ROBERTSON corporation; Captain MILTON C. KLUGH of the Seventy-first troop carrier command, Stout field, Indianapolis, Ind., pilot of the glider; and Private First Class J. M. DAVIS, also attached to the Seventy-first troop carrier command.
The demonstration was sponsored by the ROBERTSON corporation and the army air forces.
The glider, flying directly over the field at a height of about 2,000 feet, began its death journey earthward immediately after being released from a Douglas C-47 cargo plane.
Immediately after the release, the left wing of the glider buckled and collapsed. The craft seemed to halt temporarily in the sky, observers said, and then the other wing began to fold and both fell free from the fuselage.
The fuselage intact, the glider plummeted to the earth like a dart. There was a dull crash as the craft hit the ground and exploded. Fragments flew several hundred feet into the air.
Scores of women fainted and many wept as the crash siren at the field sounded.
The glider had been lifted from the field shortly before its release by the Douglas plane and the two had circled the port only three or four times.
The craft had made a successful test flight shortly before the fatal accident. Reports said craft similar to the one that crashed will be grounded until an investigation of their structure is made.
The glider, designed to carry 15 fully-dquipped soldiers and one jeep, is manufactured by the ROBERTSON Aircraft corporation.
The crash was the worst air disaster in the history of St. Louis. Mayor BECKER, serving his first term as chief executive of the city, said at a press conference Saturday that he looked forward to his ride in the glider. It was his first in that type of plane.
Questioned regarding his belief in the safety of air travel and the amount of danger in connection with his ill-fated ride Sunday he declared, "You can die only once and we must die sometime."
Major ROBERTSON was a pioneer in aviation and was the first man to land a plane on the St. Louis port in 1919. He was one of the first sponsors and a financial backer of CHARLES A. LINDBERGH, who formerly worked for ROBERTSON as an air mail pilot out of St. Louis.
ROBERTSON also helped lay out and survey the China National Airways and made a complete aerial survey of the air facilities of Turkey. He was an organizer of the Transcontinental Air Lines.
DYSART, for years a St. Louis broker, was injured with four bankers in a plane crash at Atlantic City in 1928 during a convention of the Investment Bankers association. He headed the group in 1925.

Billings Gazette Montana 1943-08-02

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Comments

1943 Glider Crash

I was at Lambert Field on August 1, 1943 and saw this glider crash. It was the RIGHT wing that broke loose from the glider, not the left wing. The left wing stayed with the glider all the way down to impact and there was NO expolsion. The right wing fluttered down very slowly all the way to the ground. The glider pitched up very fast after tow release, and that's when the right wing broke loose.

Glider Crash

I would love to talk to you about this topic and other questions I have about gliders built in St. Louis back in the 40's. If you wouldn't mind contacting me I would appreciate your time.

St. Louis Glider Crash, 1943

The newspaper account is wrong in that the left wing did not buckle or break away. There is a Globe-Democrat photo showing the glider moments from impact and the left wing is intact. The right wing buckled and separated shortly after the craft was released from the tow plane. Another photo, taken shortly before takeoff by a Post Dispatch photographer, shows eight of the victims strapped into their seats. Two of the men on the right look quite terrified. In the Life magazine story on the event, the author writes, "The ten passengers were nervous - because the experience was something new to them." How right he was.