Langley Field, VA Bomber Crash On Take Off, Aug 1939

PROBE LANGLEY FIELD TRAGEDY.

THREE MAN BOARD OF INQUIRY GOES INTO NINE DEATH BOMBER CRASH.

Langley Field, Va., Aug. 12. -- (AP) -- A three-man board of inquiry probed today into the fire-seared wreckage of a Douglas B-18 bomber that crashed during a take-off and killed two commissioned officers and seven enlisted men.
The plane, attached to the 21st reconnaisance squadron, developed trouble shortly after it left the field about 1:30 p.m. (EST) yesterday and plunged to the ground from an altitude of about 150 feet.
Lieut. Col. Walter Bender, executive officer in charge said the board's report probably would be made to the War Department within the "next two or three days."
Members of the board, appointed immediately after the crash were Major Clarence S. Lober, Capt. William H. McArthur and Lieut. Nicholas E. Powell.
Witnesses said the big plane had just cleared the field when one of the two motors sounded as if it were cutting-out. The pilot, Second Lieutenant HOMER M. MACKAY, apparently in an effort to bring the ship down safely, put it into a steep glide toward the waters of Back River, a short distance away.
The plane, however, went into a dive and crashed, bursting into flames. Witnesses said there was an explosion as the plane hit the ground followed by a series of six lesser explosions as crash truck and ambulance crews sped to the scene.
The intense heat of gasoline flames spouting from the plane beat back efforts of rescuers to reach the men imprisoned in the fuselage and it was not until nearly two hours later that the bodies could be removed from the wreckage.
Col. Bender said no funeral arrangements for the men would be announced until relatives had expressed their wishes.
Army officials listed the dead as:
Second Lieut. HOMER M. MACKEY, native of Lansing, Mich.
Second Lieut. THOMAS L. BUTNER, Burnsville, N. C.
Technical Sergeant WILLIAM MORGAN, Norton, Va.
Staff Sergeant RAYMOND SHELLEY, Oakdale, La.
Staff Sergeant EVERETT KIRKPATRICK, Quilsene, Wash.
Staff Sergeant HOWARD A. JAUERNIG, Meridian, Idaho.
Corporal PETE BUNYK, New Kensington, Pa.
Private ANTHONY REALE, Milwaukee, Wis.
Private ROY B. LEOPOLD, East Mauch Chunk, Pa.

Gastonia Daily Gazette North Carolina 1939-08-12