Armer Mountain, AZ Transport Plane Crashes, Dec 1951



Phoenix, Jan. 2 -- (AP) -- An Air Force evacuation team reached the wreckage of a C-47 transport plane on a mountainside today and found the mangled bodies of all 28 occupants.
FIrst Lieut. DONALD C. HUMPHREYS said the bodies definitely were the 19 West Point cadets, four crew members and five other passengers aboard the plane when it disappeared in a storm over central Arizona, Sunday.
The plane plowed into 7000-foot Armer Mountain, 65 miles northeast of Phoenix, and exploded.
"All aboard were killed instantly," Lieutenant HUMPHREYS said.
"The plane hit, exploded and threw the bodies up the mountain," he said.
The first party to reach wreckage consisted of Air Force men, cowboys and two Associated Press correspondents.
Some rode horseback up the steep, snow-covered mountainside. Others walked.
The plane apparently flew straight into the cliff about 100 feet below the crest of the mountain. There was a small burned area on the rocks which probably was the point of impact.
Scattered Debris.
Pieces of the plane, some only an inch square, were found half a mile distant.
Parachutes popped open when the plane crashed. They were cast in ghostly fashion over snow-covered rocks and trees. Bits of uniforms spotted the ground.
The bodies were strewn over the steep mountainside at the base of the cliff. Only one was burned.
"Some bodies will have to be taken to the morgue for identification from their teeth," Lieutenant HUMPHREYS said.
He estimated it would take two or three days to remove all of the remains.
Richmonder Identified.
Among the first bodies identified were those of Cadet HILMAR G. MANNING, 23, son of Mrs. Elinor L. Manning, Richmond, Calif.; the pilot, Maj. LESTER CARLSON, flying safety officer for the Fourth Air Force; the co-pilot, First Lieut. WALTER BOBACK, 29; and WAF Sgt. JEANE GARAFALO, 20, Plainfield, N. J.
The party was led up the mountainside by ARNOLD JOHNSON, 50-year-old cattle ranch foreman, who yesterday afternoon was the first person to reach the crash scene.
Base Camp Set Up.
Eight Air Force officers and men set up a base camp about four miles from the wreckage last night.
When the vanguard set out shortly after daybreak, they figured the temperature at the top of Armer Mountain was five degrees below zero.
JOHNSON reported three to four inches of snow covered the ground around the scattered wreckage and bodies.
(Meanwhile, the wreckage of an F-51 fighter plane that disappeared Sunday was sighted 42 miles northeast of Tucson, the United Press reported. There were no further details.)

By Jack Stevenson Associated Press Staff Writer.
Phoenix, Ariz., Jan. 2 -- (AP) -- We had to crawl on our hands and knees down a mountainside today to reach the bodies of 28 persons who perished in the crash of an Air Force C-47 transport plane.

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