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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

Comments

My brother and I were in

My brother and I were in Lawton, Ok on November 8, 1959 standing in our back yard in Lawton, Ok when we witnessed this tragic event. We realized it was an airplane exploding almost immediately. It was a huge fire ball that broke into several large chunks of falling debris that again exploded in several smaller bags near Lawton, OK. I was nine years old and my brother was six years old at that time. I shall never forget.

b58 hustler explosion

My cousin and I were in our grandma's backyard at 515A in Lawton and also watched this Hustler explode. I remember it clearly. We were watching the plane flying southbound high and very fast, E of Lawton, when it exploded. Pieces drifted slowly down trailing smoke. This made quite an impression on us both as we realized that no one was going to survive.

Sheppard Airman

I was a young airman stationed at Sheppard AFB when this happened, I was looking up at the contrail when the plane exploded. Next day, many of us was bussed to Oklahoma to look for parts, we found many small pieces, I personally found the oxygen mask of one of the crew, I will always remember that experience, even though it happened over 55 years ago.

B58 Hustler crash on 7 November 1959

My dad and I were throwing a game of horse shoes in the back yard. I heard the explosion and looked up to see what was first a yellow ball of fire and then an orange all of fire and lots of falling parts hitting all over our farm. The squadron commander and his staff came to our house and wanted access to the farm which we gave them. We are about 25 to 26 miles SE of Lawton. There was brown magnetic tape everywhere in the trees and the US Air Force wanted that magnetic tape very badly.

I still have a piece of the plane that I found years later in a clump of trees. It is about 2 foot by 2 foot. It does have some red coloring on it. It is aluminum honeycomb material. Very strong.

I will never forget that terrible day and the falling pieces of plane hitting everywhere. It was a miracle we were not killed or that any of our livestock was not killed.



article | by Dr. Radut