Curry, AK Air Force Plane Crash Kills 10 Injures 6, Feb 1954


Anchorage, Alaska (AP) -- An Air Force C47 crash-landed during a freezing rain in bitter cold weather 75 miles northeast of here yesterday and some of its 16 passengers are known to have survived.
The condition and number of survivors is unknown with the impossible flying weather holding back rescue crews waiting but a few miles away to fly into the rugged country 15 miles northwest of Curry where the wreckage was sighted.
The two-engined transport plane dropped from radio contact while flying from Ladd Air Force Base at Fairbanks to Elmendorf AFB, 275 miles to the southwest.
Air rescue planes immediately began search and an Alaska railroad forman identified as "DAVIES," soon reported he had heard a plane diving and saw one parachute open from it near Chulitna.
CLIFF HUDSON, a bush pilot at Curry, intercepted DAVIES' report and started searching the area, spotting the wreckage 15 miles northwest of Curry. Two persons were observed jumping up and down near the stricken craft.
The Air Force said the plane had 13 passengers and three crew members, all military personnel.

The Daily Chronicle Centralia Washington 1954-02-06



Anchorage, Alaska (AP) -- What is it like to be hurled into space and marooned on the snowy wastes of Alaska?
Six airmen who were catapulted into the air last Friday when an Air Force C47 "disintegrated" in flight told last night of their experience.
They were among 16 men on the plane. Searchers have found the bodies of three men. Seven were still missing and hopes they would be found alive were very dim.
Among the missing were Lt. Col. W. WEST-WATSON of the British Joint Military Services Mission on the U. S. Army staff at Washington, D. C.; and Capt. JAMES HILL of the Army field forces at Ft. Benning, Ga.
Ground Party Reaches Scene.
A ground party which battled deep snow 15 miles to the scene of the crash from the little town of Curry, 75 miles northeast of here, last night reported it had found three bodies.
The six rescued men talked freely with newsmen at nearby Elmendorf Air Force Base. They were hospitalized at the 5006th Air Force Hospital at Elmendorf after being flown to safety.
All six were suffering exposure, shock and various cuts and bruises.
None of them could explain the accident, which happened on a flight from Elmendorf to Ladd AFB, Fairbanks, 275 miles to the northeast.
Plane Tossed Like Feather.
But to all six, the first indication of trouble was a terrific downdraft that tossed the plane as if it was a feather. Two said they heard an explosion afterward.
Here is what the six had to tell newsmen:
Airman 1.C EDWARD J. FOX, 22, West Utica, N. Y., who was lying on a pile of baggage when disaster struck:
"We seemed to hit a downdraft and the next thing I knew I found myself in the air. I looked down and saw the plane and some of the other guys flying underneath me. I pulled the cord on my parachute and landed."
Hurtled Through Space.
As Airman 1.C ELI LaDUKE, 20, Au Sable Forks, O( Y. [sic] remembered it:
"A heavy turbulence just seemed to tear the plane apart. I remember hurtling through space and pulling my chute cord. When the chute opened I was fairly close to the ground."
Airman 3.C RUPERT C. PRATT, 20, Salt Rock, W. Va.:
"There was a terrific downdraft and then an explosion at one side and the plane seemed to open up. Then I found myself flying through the air."
Airman 2.C HUEY MONTGOMERY, 20, Eldridge, Ala., who was also sitting on a pile of baggage about level with a window:
Heard Explosion.
"All of a sudden the plane dropped hard and then came back up again. I heard an explosion and found myself in the air."
Airman 2.C EDWARD W. OLSON, 20, Elkader, Iowa, who was dozing at the time, said he awoke to find himself sailing through the air.
Airman 1.C BOBBY SALLIS, 21, West Helens, Ark., said he found himself projected suddenly into the air after "the plane just disintegrated."
LaDUKE, SALLIS and MONTGOMERY were picked up at the site of the wrecked plane. They had joined after reaching the ground and walked through snow to the smashed craft for arctic survival gear and food rations.
The other three were spotted 15 miles from the wreckage.
Both trios constructed make-shift shelters and huddled together Friday night in below-freezing temperatures awaiting dawn and rescue.

The Daily Chronicle Centralia Washington 1954-02-09