Boeing Field, WA Navy Planes Collide, Nov 1937

Martin Flying Boat crash 11-3-1937.jpg


Boeing Field, Wash. -- A Navy bomber and a Navy pursuit plane collided over Boeing Field during gunnery maneuvers. Two men in the pursuit plane parachuted to safety, but the five men aboard the bomber perished as the planes crashed into a cow pasture south of the runway.
Killed in the bomber were:
Lieutenant HENRY TWOHY.
Aviation Cadet KENNETH RHUDDY.
Aviation Machinist's Mate First Class MATTHEW McCRODDAN.
Radioman First Class RUSSELL REAGAN.
It was a partly cloudy day, perfect for gunnery maneuvers. The planes were equipped with camera guns, which mimicked machine guns, but instead took a rapid succession of still photographs for later review. The two-winged bomber, a PM-2 type, "patrolled" the skies at 90 miles per hour, and two open-cockpit pursuit planes, Berliner-Joyce OJ-2's, took turns diving out of the clouds in simulated combat 3,500 feet off the ground.
Maneuvers of this type were common, but on this day something went horribly wrong. After about 15 "attack" dives at speeds of over 150 miles per hour, one of the pursuit planes came out of the clouds a bit too close to the bomber, with little time for evasion on the part of both pilots. The right wing of the smaller plane connected with the right wing of the bomber, crippling both planes.
Aviation Chief Machinist's Mate J. D. GOODSELL and Seaman W. S. BOWMAN jumped from the damaged pursuit plane, although some witnesses on the ground seemed to think that they were thrown out on impact. The two men parachuted down, almost in shock, as their plane drilled itself into the ground below.
The bomber limped along for a few seconds, but then its wing collapsed, sending the craft into a violent tailspin. Its engine racing, the plane plummeted towards the ground. At some point TWOHY, the pilot, was able to cut the motors, preventing a fire upon impact. None of the crew was able to escape the plane before in pancaked into the field, strewing gasoline-soaked wreckage over most of an acre.
It took hours to extricate the bodies from the wreckage. The men had been cutching their parachutes upon impact, unable to use them as they tumbled through the sky. The chutes, meant to save their lives, were instead used as shrouds to transport the dead men away from the crash site.

From 1937-11-03