Skip to Content

Honolulu, HI area Airplane Falls into the Ocean, May 1930

U. S. Flyers Adrift On Shark-Infested Sea Saved; One Dies

HONOLULU, T. H., May 15. (AP).---A dramatic adventure of air and sea, it was found Thursday, cost the life of Staff Sergt, Joseph Becker of Brooklyn, N. Y., and caused the loss of three military airplanes between the Islands of Maui and Hawaii. Twelve other army and navy flyers whose planes rode the rough waves from noon Thursday until early Friday were brought ashore by surface vessels.

Becker died when an army bombing plane fell into the ocean while accompanying a fleet of forty-one army and navy planes from Luke and Wheeler Fields, near here, to Hilo, Hawaii. A navy seaplane and two army amphibian planes were brought down by their crews to rescue the bomber's men. They picked up three, but the rescuing planes were unable to rise from the rough waters.

While flying 8,000 feet high, the bomber broke an aileron control and began its descent. Becker's parachute opened prematurely as he was about to leap and became entangled in the bomber's rigging. Two others of the crew parachuted at an altitude of 4,000 feet and were picked up by the rescuing planes.

Lieut. Tellmadge Leslie Boyd of Washington, pilot of the bomber, remained with the ship in a heroic effort to extricate Becker, but was unable to do so. Boyd's legs were lacerated, his shoes torn off and his clothing reduced to rags. Three thousand feet above the sea, Boyd freed himself and leaped with his parachute into the waves.

A naval seaplane commanded by Lieut. M. A. Schur followed the parachuting men down and picked up Boyd. Staff Sergt. H. Alexander of Kennedy, Ala., and Private H. L. Cowan of Syracuse, N. Y. Becker was carried beneath the waves by the bomber.

Boyd was about to jump when he saw Becker's parachute entangled in the rigging and he went to the assistance of his Sergeant. The attempt to free Becker failed and Boyd parachuted seaward as Becker was dragged down by the plane into the high waves, leaving only an oil scum where the ship sank.

The steamer Hawaii rescued Lieut. E. W. Rawlings, Sergt. R. F. Summers, Lieutenant Schur, Lieut. C. A. Hawkins, Aviation Pilot A. R. Schlarks, Chief Radio Man J. H. Babson and Machinist A. J. Kachergis. One of the planes drifted forty miles before its men were rescued.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 16 May 1930



article | by Dr. Radut