Fairfax, CA Flying Fortress Crashes, May 1946
SEVEN SURVIVE ARMY FORTRESS' DIVE INTO PEAK.
TWO KILLED IN SMASH IN CALIFORNIA NEAR HAMILTON FIELD.
Fairfax, Calif., May 16. -- UP -- Seven Army fliers and passengers, some of them injured and trapped inside the wrecked fuselage for six hours, today survived the crash of a B-17 Flying Fortress on a rugged peak near Mt. Tamalpais, 17 miles north of San Francisco. The two remaining men aboard the plane were killed.
The big bomber, flying from Tucson, Ariz., to Hamilton field, Calif., via Mines field, Los Angeles, smashed into a 1,300 foot peak in the Marin county hills at 2:05 a.m. after it ran out of gasoline.
(Davis-Monthan field reported the B-17 was not from Tucson, but among several ATC craft passing through here yesterday.)
(The Flying Fortress, which started its journey from Clovis, N.M., departed from the local field at 8:20 p.m.)
The crash occurred only nine miles from the plane's destination. Striking the hill only six feet below its 1,300-foot crest, the giant plane bounced over the top, thudded across the rough terrain, and slid to a grinding halt that churned up earth and rock for more than 100 yards. Wreckage was scattered 300 yards.
The pilot and copilot were thrown clear of the wreck. Critically injured and only semiconscious, they walked and crawled two miles to a private residence where they collapsed on the front porch.
A lieutenant colonel was taken alive from the fuselage. Rescuers chopped a hole through the wreckage with an axe to extricate him. He was strapped on a litter with his parachute shrouds and brought down the hillside.
Two men were found dead in the wreck, while three others, including the radio operator, lay trapped inside their compartment. They were visible to rescuers who gouged through the fuselage with special equipment.
Ray Olson, a designing engineer and the first man to reach the wreck, talked to the men trapped in the plane.
"The radio operator was moaning and talking incoherently. He kept asking to take him out. I told him to take it easy, that he was lucky to be alive."
The plane crashed at 2:05 a.m. four miles west of this Marin county town. In was en route from Mines field, Los Angeles, to Hamilton field, only eight miles distant.
Olson said the men inside the plane were barely conscious. They were in great pain. Olson and others obtained morphine from the plane's first aid kit and a doctor administered it to them while they were awaiting rescue crews.
Olson talked to the colonel and men inside the plane.
"The colonel kept telling the other men to take it easy, that they would be rescued. The colonel was the only man in the compartment we could reach without special cutting equipment."
Tucson Daily Citizen Arizona 1946-05-16
Listing Of Crew and Passengers:
1st Lt. WARDER H. SKAGGS, Sanger, Calif., pilot, injured.
1st Lt. RICHARD C. BEACH, Louisville, Ky, copilot, injured.
1st Lt. JOSEPH H. RINCON, San Francisco, Calif., navigator, injured.
S/Sgt. JAMES O. HUTTON, Clovis, N.M., Fit Engineer, injured.
PFC CARL H. MILLER, Carthage, Texas, Radioman, injured.
Lt. Col. RUSSELL M. PETERS, Larchmont, N.Y., Passenger, injured.
1st Lt. MILTON M. SOUZA, Santa Clara, Calif., passenger, fatal.
2nd Lt. MARTIN J. HRADISKY, Ithaca, N.Y., passenger, died May 19, 1946.
M/Sgt. EVERETT B. NICHOLS, Clovis, N.M., passenger, fatal.