Hyder, AZ Bomber Crash, Mar 1950

B-50 bomber.jpg


Tucson, Ariz. -- (AP) -- Skilled investigators scanned the burned, twisted wreckage of a Davis-
Monthan air force base B-50 bomber today seeking the cause of an explosion that hurtled the huge plane from the sky killing 12 members of its 14-man crew.
Flying easily at 17,500 feet on a training mission over the desert near Hyder, Ariz., the bomber
"exploded like a bomb in the sky" eyewitnesses told airmen who arrived on the scene some 78 miles west of Phoenix.
The two men saved were Capt. JOHN H. LEE, 3125 N. Geronimo, and First Lt. WILLIAM T. GENTRY. GENTRY was sitting in the copilot's seat wearing a parachute and "just dropped through the hatch" to safety. LEE, the bombardier, riding in the gunners' compartment amidships, apparently was blown clear of the fuselage by the explosion. After a long fall he managed to open his chute and landed safely.

Carried To Hospitals.
Both rescued fliers were picked up near the scene by air force personnel and taken to hospitals. GENTRY was flown to the D-M station hospital and LEE was hospitalized at Williams Field. It was believed that both men had only minor injuries.
At the crash scene, scattered hunks of the bomber lay over a wide area in the cactus studded, flat country. Brush and cacti were chopped off by the shearing metal as parts of the plane skittered across the desert when the plane hit.
Bodies of the 12 dead were mangled beyond recognition. A premliminary survey of the wreck indicated that the trapped men had no chance to escdape as an engine caught fire in flight and a terrific blast crumpled the bomber.

Engine Catches Fire.
GENTRY said the outboard port engine caught fire and the other engine on the left side of the plane stopped. The explosion followed and GENTRY said he believed the left wing fell off.
The B-50, a modified version of the B-29, was on a routine training flight from Davis-Monthan.

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