Tacoma, WA Transport Crashes In Fog, Nov 1952
36 KILLED IN PLANE CRASH!
SEVEN WOMEN AND NINE CHILDREN ON TRANSPORT FROM ALASKA INVOLVED IN TACOMA DISASTER.
Tacoma (AP) -- A four-engined military transport from Alaska crashed in the fog a mile short of its destination here early Friday, and 36 of the 39 aboard died in the explosion and flames.
The passenger list of servicemen and dependents included several women and nine children. The only survivors, all in Tacoma hospitals, were two airmen and an eight-year-old boy. Two of the women killed were in the military service. Several of the children were babies.
An Air Force information officer from McCloud Air Force Base, where the big C-54 was preparing to land, said the hospitals expressed the belief the three survivors have a good chance to pull through.
Sgt. RAYMOND SMITH, who was reported to have been stationed at McChord Base, died of head injuries after being taken to a hospital.
Plane Was Afire In Air.
At least two witnesses to the tragedy said the plane was afire as it "whooshed" down to a tree-flanked field about a mile from its destination at McChord Air Force Base.
Capt. JACK EASLEY, public information officer at McChord, said early reports to the base indicated the plane struck a tree while coming in through the heavy fog for a ground control approach landing.
All but a section of the tail was destroyed in the resulting fire and explosion. Bodies were scattered over 200 feet from the wreckage.
McChord Base reported the transport, a C-54, was circling for an approach to the field when disaster struck.
ART GETCHMAN, 18, who was driving nearby, and PHILIP BOLDEN, a McChord taxi driver who said the plane flew low over his home, were the witnesses who said the plane appeared to be afire.
GETCHMAN thought there was fire in an engine on the left side; BOLDEN said it "looked like the entire right wing was afire."
Was Flying Extremely Low.
Both said the plane was extremely low.
GETCHMAN told a reporter: "I couldn't hear the motors; it was just a big whoosh."
"I thought it was a meteor," he added. "It just seemed to slide into the ground."
The manifest listed 18 military passengers, 14 civilians and a crew of seven, Captain EASLEY reported.
The only known survivors in Tacoma hospitals early Friday were:
Airman CURTIS REDD, McChord base, burns.
Airman BOBBY WILSON, Great Falls, Mont., head injury, internal injuries and burns.
An Alaskan boy who was listed as JOSEPH ICOAVITT, eight, broken legs and burns.
First witnesses at the scene said they could hear the heart-rendering cries of a baby in the burning wreckage. They were helpless to do anything about it.
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