Lawton, OK B-58 Hustler Explosion, Nov 1959
B-58 MIDAIR EXPLOSION FATAL TO 2.
Lawton, Okla. (UPI) -- A $10 million supersonic Convair B-58 Hustler jet bomber exploded "like a skyrocket" over Lawton yesterday, killing two civilian crewmen making a test flight.
The crewmen were identified as DONALD ARTHUR SIEDHOF, 25, Fort Worth, Texas, a test flight engineer, and RAYMOND FITZGERALD, 35, Sweetwater, Texas, chief pilot for Convair.
FITZGERALD, father of two, had been a flight test pilot for Convair for 12 years. His body was found in a 25-foot piece of fuselage that missed a farm house southeast of Lawton by only 200 yards.
The body of SIEDHOF, with an unopened parachute nearby, was found about 26 miles southeast of Lawton.
The explosion came shortly after the plane cracked the sound barrier, and only minutes before it was scheduled to complete a one-hour test flight.
A Convair spokesman in Fort Worth said the civilian crew was testing a "new type system" in the plane, which was from the Convair Fort Worth plant.
Four Convair B-58 Hustlers have crashed in less than a year, killing at least five persons. SIDNEY A. CAUTHEN, 32, an electronics worker at Convair in Fort Worth, died only Friday from burns he received when a Hustler exploded on a flight line last December, killing two other employes.
An air force officer at Sheppard Air Force Base at Wichita Falls, Tex., 45 miles south of Lawton, said the control tower noticed a "tremendous puff of smoke" like a mushroom cloud.
A Convair Hustler, however, does not carry a nuclear device.
Eye witnesses said the plane had exploded with such force it showered a wide area with minute particles of debris.
Billings Gazette Montana 1959-11-08