Nine Army Fliers Die in Dive of Bomber, Trapped in Electrical Storm in Colorado

DENVER, Aug. 23 — Two officers
and seven enlisted men attached
to the Army Thirty-seventh Bombardment
Squadron which is in
training at the Army Air Corps
technical school at Lowry Field
here, were killed instantly at 8
o'clock last night when a Douglas
Army bomber of the B-18-A type
crashed in a barren field nine miles
southeast of Watkins in a severe
hail and electrical storm within a
half-hour after taking off on a
routine bombing practice mission.
The plane is believed to have been
caught in a down draft of such
intense wind velocity that it was
unable to withstand the pressure.
Army officers said the plane, which
caught fire after striking the
ground, probably disintegrated in
midair. The victims and parts of
the wreckage were strewn over an
area of 300 square yards.
The men who lost their lives in
the crash were:
Second Lieut. Wilbur A. Champagne
of Shreveport, La., pilot.
Second Lieut. Robert P. Schmidtchen
Jr., Air Corps Reserve, of
Valley Stream, L. I., co-pilot.
Staff Sergeant William McDearman
of Lebanon, Tenn.
Staff Sergeant Clarence L. Hobbs
of Irving, Texas.
Sergeant Truman Fraser of Mc-
Crory, Ark.
Sergeant Roy C. Adkins of Switz
City, Ind.
Private Claud E. Hutchinson of
Denver.
Private Charles E. Kelly of Texarkana,
Ark.
Private Weldon Bryson of Deport,
Texas, radio operator.
Lowry Field officers first believed
the plane had been struck by lightning,
but said there was no evidence
in the wreckage to support this
theory.
The plane and a companion ship
took off from the field early in the
evening for a routine practice
flight. Lieutenant Ancil D. Baker,
pilot of the second plane, and Lieut.
Blair M. Sorenson, co-pilot, said
they did not see or hear by radio
from the other plane after it headed
into a storm cloud.

Aug. 24, 1940 edition of "The New York Times"