Rhinelander, WI Plane Hits TV Tower, Nov 1968



Rhinelander, Wis. (UPI) - Three Michigan men, apparently on a hunting trip, were killed Sunday when their single-engine plane slammed into the 1,710-foot transmitting tower of a Wisconsin television station.
All but 150-feet of the structure - the second highest such tower in the state - was knocked down, heavily damaging the studios of station WAEO-TV, which is owned by Rep. Alvin O'Konski, R-Wis.
The victims, all registered as pilots, were identified as THOMAS REIMINGA, 44, and JAMES BREEDEN, 29, both of Kalamazoo, and JEROME SCHUSTROM, 25, Coldwater. Authorities said they could not determine who was at the controls at the time of the crash.
Only two persons were in the one-story concrete-block building when the tower fell across it. Both escaped with minor injuries.
"I was sitting at the board watching an AFL football game when I heard a slight rumbling noise,"
said DAN OLSEN, 21, Rhinelander, a director at the station.
"Apparently that's when the plane hit the tower. It suddenly dawned on me that sound could only be made if the tower was coming down. The place is pretty soundproof and I didn't hear the plane actually strike the tower."
OLSEN said he ran to the control room to warm WILLIAM G. ANDERSON, 42, Three Lakes, the station's chief engineer.
"I yelled for Bill to get the hell out of there, then I fell flat on my face as the ceiling came down. I was cut by some flying glass and steel. I started for the end of a corridor, then remembered Bill and raced back to the control room. I heard him calling my name and asking if I was all right," said OLSEN.
Skies were overcast in the area with some light snow at the time of the crash. The station was knocked off the air.
OLSEN said he and ANDERSON went outside the building.
"Several people were standing around, asking if we were all right. The wreckage of the plane was scattered in a 50-foot radius," he said. "The three bodies were lying around it. The plane must of dropped just where it was after hitting the tower. There was no fire."
OLSEN said the men were apparently on a hunting trip. "They were wearing hunting gear and there were guns in the plane," he said.

Ludington Daily News Michigan 1968-11-18