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Burlington, IA Plane Kills Boys Playing Ball, May 1947

Plane Kills 2 Schoolboys Playing Ball

Burlington, Ia., May 18, (AP)---A navy pilot and two schoolboys were killed and six young persons seriously injured today when a fighter plane went out of control at an airshow and crashed on a school playground.

More than 3,500 persons at the airshow saw the Corsair fighter zoom low across the Municipal Airport during a mock formation raid. It went into a series of barrel rolls, then appeared to go out of control and crashed and burned on the school grounds where 14 youngsters were playing ball.
The dead schoolboys were identified as RONALD HAGEMEIER, 16, and RICHARD CHARLES GRANT, 14.

The navy declined to release the name of the pilot pending notification of next of kin.
(NOTE: The pilot was Lt. (j.g.) JOHN PELLER, 25, of St. Louis, Mo.)

The naval reserve air show was being staged by 35 planes from Lambert Field, St. Louis, to signal the opening of National Naval Reserve Week.

The crash occurred just 15 minutes after the show had opened with a low level simulated attack on the field. The spectators saw the plane go down behind a clump of trees north of the field. Then the smoke billowed up.

Cort Klein, city editor of the Burlington Hawkeye-Gazette, gave this description of the crash:
The plane plowed through the backstop fence of the Perkins School Playground, hurtled across the ball diamond, and crashed into a tree at a street intersection. The pilot's mangled body was found at the base of the tree which had snapped off. Parts of it were 175 feet away.

The plane exploded and burned. A 5-year-old girl standing across the street was severely burned by sprays of gasoline. The school-boys killed and injured were hit by flying parts of the plane wreckage.

Several nearby houses also were damaged by flying debris. Wreckage was scattered over four blocks.

Portland Press Herald, Portland, ME 19 May 1947



article | by Dr. Radut