San Diego, CA Navy Airplane Crashes into Ship, Aug 1937


Plane Hits Abandoned Whaler, Noses Over Into Bay at San Diego, Cal.


$150,000 Craft Destroyed as It Completes Test Hop For Flight to Panama.

SAN DIEGO, Cal. -- (AP) – Disaster struck the navy's armada of giant flying boats for the first time last night, killing six of eight men aboard a new $150,000 craft as it crashed into shallow San Diego bay.

Two crew members escaped with minor injuries but three officers were killed and the plane almost demolished by the impact. Four bodies had not been recovered today.

Its hull submerged, the wreck was quickly surrounded by navy and private ships as giant searchlights illuminated the bay.

List of Dead.
The dead were listed as: W. C. DEY, JR., lieutenant; F. L. WALLACE, lieutenant junior grade; W. M. FRESHOUR, lieutenant junior grade; R. FALL, aviation chief machinist's mate; R. M. PURDY, radioman, second class, and H. K. BRYAN, radioman, third class, naval aviation pilot.

The survivors lifted out of the hull and rushed to naval hospital were J. W. BLACKMAN, aviation ordnanceman[sic], second class, only slightly hurt, and T. P. DOUGHERTY, aviation machinist's mate, third class, who suffered shock and multiple lacerations.

The ill-starred plane, PBY-1, whose sister flying boats have flown in mass formations to Honolulu and the Canal Zone in the past two years, was undergoing a “routine night practice flight” for a forthcoming hop to Panama in September.

Hits Old Whaler
As it swooped down for a landing after being in the air several hours, the seaplane struck the Narwhal, an abandoned whaling ship once used in filming “Moby Dick.”
the 63 ½ -foot hull of the flying boat nosed over in the bay mud, crushing its metal framework like paper.

Only the bottom of the fuselage and the two wing pontoons showed above water.
Lieut. WALLACE, 29, and Lieut. FRESHOUR, 28, were natives of Ohio and Annapolis Naval academy graduates.

Mansfield News Journal Ohio 1937-08-24