Wilmington, NC Parachutists Plane Crashes, Sep 1961

AIR SHOW CROWDS SEE 3 CHUTISTS DIE.

Wilmington, N.C. -- (AP) -- An Air Force cargo plane carrying six daredevil Army parachutists lumbered clear of the runway Sunday, faltered, slewed off to one side and fell to a fiery crash before a shocked air show crowd of some 100,000 persons.
Three servicemen died, 12 others aboard were injured -- six seriously.
Onlookers gasped as five-men raced to the broken C123 to drag out the injured from the gaping holes in the fuselage. Three of four helicopters whirred out to the Hanover County Airport. One hovered over the burning wreckage, the wash from its rotors beating back flames from two men in the cockpit.
The wife of a Civial Air Patrol officer, watching the CAP "Friendship Day" show on television from her mother's hospital room in Wilmington, dashed down to alert the emergency room and then began contacting blood donors.
By helicopter and ambulance, rescuers brought in the casualties.
The dead were:
Sgt. ROBERT T. TURNER, an Army photographer from Ft. Bragg, N.C., home base of the skydivers.
Air Force Capt. JOHN E. MARKEL from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
Air Force T. Sgt. JOHN LESSO from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
The injured, included the six skydivers:
Lt. JAMES P. PEARSON, recent winner of the world sky diving championship.
M. Sgt. T. HOLLIS.
Sgt. JOE E. NORMAN.
Sgt. WILFRED J. A. CHARRETTE.
Spec. 5 ROBBY LETBETTER.
PFC ROBERT McDONNELL.
The plane was to have climbed to several thousand feet for the descent of the sky divers, members of a crack Army parachute team of about 50 men.

Star-News Pasadena California 1961-09-25