Port Aransas, TX (In Gulf of Mexico) Coast Guard Plane Crash, Sep 1973


Port Aransas, Tex., (UPI) -- A Coast Guard plane searching for a man who fell off a fishing boat Friday caught fire, crashed during an emergency landing in the water and sank with six people aboard.
Coast Guard rescue workers recovered the body of Aviation Machinest Mate 1C HAROLD D. BROWN, JR., of Stonington, Conn.
Five other victims included, Lt. Cmdr. FRANCIS W. MILLER, 31, of Needham, Mass., pilot; aviation structural mechanic 2C BENJAMIN R. GASKINS, JR., 24, of Buxton, N.C.; aviation electronics technician 2C JOHN F. HARRISON, 24, of Washington; aviation electronics technician 2C JOHN P. PLEDGER, 24, of Salt Lake City, and Ens. JERALD M. MACK, 25, of Irving, Tex., the copilot.
Dave Cipra, spokesman for the Coast Guard headquarters in New Orleans, said two helicopters, two rescue boats and the cutter Point Baker were conducting the search.
"We had a helicopter and 44-foot rescue boat already participating in the search for the man overboard and they were diverted to the scene of the crash," Cipra said.
The piilot of the aircraft, a HU16E amphibious, two-engine craft, radioed the headquarters at Port Aransas and said there was a fire aboard. There was no opportunity to explain the nature of the fire.
"They said they would have to ditch," Cipra said.
The plane crashed in trying to make the emergency
landing. Cipra said the seas were choppy but the water would have provided no difficulty under normal
"We won't know just what happened until we can retrieve the wreckage," Cipra said. He said the wreckage would likely be recovered by a barge crane.
The first body recovered was floating in the area of the wreck, perhaps thrown from the craft on impact. It was flown to the Naval Air Station hospital in Corpus Christi.
A Coast Guard board of Inquiry was appointed to investigate.
The original search was for a crewman of the fishing boat Berlin Ester. The man was not found.
The crash occurred at about 5:30 a.m. one mile into the Gulf of Mexico off Port Aransas.

Galveston Daily News Texas 1973-09-22