Seattle, WA Plane Crashes Into Apartment, Aug 1951
11 DIE WHEN PLANE RAMS APARTMENTS.
SIX MEN ABOARD B-50 BOMBER AND FIVE OCCUPANTS OF BUILDING ARE VICTIMS OF SPECTACULAR SEATTLE CRASH -- FLAMES ENGULF FLIMSY THREE-STORY STRUCTURE AFTER AIR CRAFT HITS IT.
Seattle, Aug. 14 -- A faltering B-50 bomber, like a bird with a broken wing, veered into a hillside apartment house here yesterday and killed 11 or more people.
The six men aboard the four-engine air force plane and five occupants of the old Lester apartments in Seattle's south end industrial district were known dead. Their bodies were recovered before dark.
Coroner John P. Brill, Jr., said today the 67 occupants of the frame tenement-like building had been accounted for with a single exception. Brill said the lone man might be one of two unidentified dead, but identification was not positive.
It seemed almost a miracle that more were not killed in the thundering crash of the bomber about a mile from its Boeing field takeoff point. Flames englufed the flimsy 200-foot long, three-story structure. At least a third of it was wiped out by impact, explosion or fire. There were dozens of narrow escapes. Twelve injured persons were hospitalized.
Investigators probed today in the expanse of charred debris and the pile of twisted, blackened metal that was the bomber, seeking clues in the crash.
Numerous witnesses to the crash behind Seattle's biggest brewery said all the plane's engines seemed to be operating, but the theory gained credence today that there might have been trouble in the two right-side engines.
After losing altitude, the B-50 veered sharply to the right; scraping the Brewery, in which about 200 persons were working, and crashed against the hillside. Witnesses indicated the big plane hit the hillside and bounced or skidded with destructive force into the apartment house.
It raised the question of whether mechanical trouble might have caused the plane to veer sharply, or whether the pilot heroically tried to crash against the barren part of the hillside when he knew the plane was doomed over the industrial and populated area.
The scene is a short distance from the spot where a prototype B-29 crashed into a packing company plant in 1943 killing 31.
A witness to the B-50 disaster, Businessman WILLIAM F. SCHODDE, said the big bomber was laboring heavily, nose up and tail down in an effort to gain altitude. Then it tipped almost on its side with engines wide open, and turned into a mass of flames when it hit.
"The noise was so loud I thought it was a jet coming," recalled FRED PROUT, who was below the residential hill. "Then I saw it, the wings at a 90-degree angle to the ground -- straight up and down." The next instant it struck and burst into flames.
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