Billings, MT 'Flying Boxcar' Crashes In Flames, Nov 1952
EIGHT DIE IN PLANE CRASH EAST OF BILLINGS.
EIGHT OTHERS INJURED WHEN 'FLYING BOXCAR' LOSES ENGINE, FALLS.
AIR FORCE CRAFT EN ROUTE FROM GREAT FALLS TO DENVER BURNS AFTER CRACKUP WITH 16 ABOARD WHEN PIILOT ATTEMPTS TO LAND HIS DISABLED SHIP.
A toll of eight dead, with the same number surviving, was counted Monday night from the flaming crash, at 2:45 p.m., of an Air Force "Flying Boxcar" transport, which hit in a field 12 miles east of Billings, a few hundred feet north of Highway 10.
The huge plane of the type designated C-119C and distinguished by its twin tail booms struck a hilltop irrigation ditch and bounced into a blazing pyre of wreckage after one of its two engines dropped off west of the Roundup road. According to eye witnesses, the pilot appeared to be attempting a belly landing in the field.
The survivors apparently were thrown clear when the plane plummeted into the field. One officer told bystanders he had seen the end coming and had "rolled out." He was too shocked to explain what he meant.
Three airmen were pulled out of the flames by three men who watched the crash. JOHN BRAUNSTADTER of Huntley suffered burns of the hand in the rescue. With another man whose name was not known and who could not be found, he pulled two airmen out of the fire.
STANLEY HENSON of 416 S. 32nd St., pulled out another.
Of the dead, four were burned to death and four died of injuries. The charred bodies were huddled in the center of the white-hot fire, which shot flames and a great pillar of smoke into the air for nearly two hours after the crash.
Two-way police radio made it possible for police, ambulances and fire apparatus to be on the way from Billings in a matter of minutes.
State Highway Patrolman LOUIS O. ALEKSICH was in his patrol car on a hilltop an eighth of a mile away when the great plane wavered down onto the irrigation ditch.
"I had the mike in my hand when he hit the ditch," ALEKSICH said. "I'd seen him come around losing altitude, and I knew he was going to crash."
Ambulances raced to Deaconess and St. Vincent Hospitals with the survivors after first-aid treatment had been given at the scene. The injured lists issued by the hospitals follow: