Barstow, CA Test Pilots Die in Air Crash, Jan 1958

Two Douglas Test Pilots Die in Crash

Two Douglas Aircraft Co. test fliers were killed just after noon yesterday in the unexplained crash of a Navy A-3D twin jet attack bomber eight miles west of Barstow.

The victims were identified as the pilot, Thomas C. Kilgariff, 33, of 1326 Kettering St. Lancaster, and Dale A. Benethum, 29, 1029 West Ave., Lancaster, flight test and research engineer.

Routine Report

The small jet bomber took off from Edwards Air Force Base at 11:45 a.m. on a engineering evaluation flight and radioed a routine report five minutes later without any indication of trouble.

Witnesses said the plane exploded in midair. Wreckage in midair. Wreckage was strewn across two miles of brushland in the Hinkley area.

Leave Families

One of the crewmen, it was reported, attempted to parachute from the plummeting, flaming aircraft, but struck the ground just as his chute was opening.

Douglas records showed Kilgariff leaves his widow Mary, and two children. Benethum leaves his widow Virginia.

Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA 29 Jan 1958