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


Six Meet Death and Two Are Injured in Crash of New Seaplane

Craft Hits Whaling Ship As It Swoops Down for Landing

SAN DIEGO, Calif., Aug 24 - (AP) - Disaster - for the first time - struck the navy's armada of giant flying boats last night, sending a new $150,000 plane crashing in San Diego bay, where early today rescuers hunted the bodies of its dead.

Six men, including three officers, of a crew of eight were killed, the others injured, when the plane fell. Hull submerged in shallow water, the wreck was quickly surrounded by navy and private ships as giant searchlights illuminated the bay.

The dead, four of whom were believed still trapped within the plane 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.

Lifted out of the hull and ushed to naval hospital, two survivors were treated for injuries J. W. Blackman, aviation ordnanceman, second class was only slightly hurt. T. P. Dougherty, aviation machinist's mate, third class, suffered severe shock and multiple lacerations.

The ill-starred plane, PBY-1, whose sister flying boats have flown in mass formation 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.

As it swooped down for a landing after being in the air for several hours, the seaplane struck the Narwhal, an abandoned whaling ship once used in filming "Moby Dick"

The 63 [fraction] 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.

In desperate haste to extricate the victims, three of a crew of 175 navy men were imperiled by a sudden fire, started when sparks ignited spilled gasoline.

The trio jumped into the bay and were pulled out again after fellow searchers extinguished the flames.

After the fire, a body, the second to be found, was taken from the wreckage. His legs caught in twisted metal, the dead flier was waist deep in the water.

Nevada State Journal, Reno, NV 24 Aug 1937


Navy Plane crash into Ship in August 1937.

H. K. Bryan (Harry) was my uncle. He was killed 6 years before I was born. He was born in Bellwood, AL in 1912. He had
two brothers and one sister(my Mother). Harry was only 25 at the time of his death. Mother said his death was a
devastating blow to my Grandfather in particular as well as all of the family. He was the pride and joy of my Grandfather.
Mother, Willard(brother) and Harry made the trip to take Harry to San Diego prior to his death. Frazier (brother) would not go.
Harry was killed about 3 weeks after they left him. They traveled through Indiana to see kinfolk and went through Yellowstone
park before arriving in San Diego. Mother still has the map that Harry ordered which marked their route.
Harry kept detailed picture albums of his Navy experience which I rememer as a child. Unfortunately, most of these were destroyed, along with many other keepsakes in a fire at the old homeplace. My Mother is the only remaining member of the family & will be 92 years old in March.
She still has vivid memories of the trip & Harry's death.

David Scarborough