Burlington, IA Navy Plane Crashes, May 1947 - 2 Killed, 6 Hurt



Burlington, Ia. (AP) -- A cavorting navy plane crashed on a school playground here yesterday, killing the pilot and two school boys and injuring six other youths as wreckage showered the neighborhood over a four-block area.

The plane, one of a fighter squadron from Lambert Field, St. Louis, putting on a naval air show, plummeted to the ground where 14 children were playing baseball, hurtled across the yard, crashed into a tree and exploded.

Commander J. D. Taylor, leader of the squadron, said an unofficial investigation of the crash indicated the plane had been caught in the slipstream from a ship ahead in the formation. This flipped the plane over in a one-and-a-half-turn from which the pilot was unable to right it, Taylor said.

The dead were:
RONALD HAGEMEIER, 16, son of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Hagemeier.
RICHARD CHARLES GRANT, 14, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jess Grant.
The boys had been playing baseball with 12 other youths in the playground.

The pilot of the plane, identified by Lieutenant Commander Bart Slattery, public relations officer at Lambert Field, St. Louis, as Lieutenant (jg) JOHN PEELER, son of Mrs. Ethel Peeler, of St. Louis.

List of the injured:
HARRY DARRAH, 19, navy veteran, head cuts and bruises.
JACKIE BRUNAT, 5-year-old girl, severe arm and leg burns from flaming gasoline which sprayed on her as she stood across the street from the playground.
NORBERT DUNN, 18, cuts, burns and bruises.
HERBERT SALOME, 20, burned back and leg.
ALLEN KELLY, 15, head injury, burns and lacerations.
LYLE LEWIS, 14, head and arm bruises.

DARRAH, DUNN and SALOME were reported improved Monday morning and KELLY was said to have had a fair night.
Flying debris from the plane, which Cort Klein, city editor of the Burlington Hawk-eye Gazette, said might have been traveling 350 and 400 miles an hour, damaged several homes over an area of four blocks.

The propeller and part of the engine hurtled through the porch roof and south wall of a house occupied by the William Waugh family, continued on through the north wall, and landed in the garden. The piece of wreckage laded with a foot of where James Waugh, 9, was standing. The Waugh family had been sitting at the kitchen table but went out into the yard when they heard the plane at such a low altitude.

Klein said the plane plowed through the backstop fence of the Perkins school playground.

Carroll Times Herald Iowa 1947-05-19


My brother and I witnessed this crash

My brother and I were riding our bikes on the way to the air show. We stopped and talked to the guys who were just choosing up sides to play baseball and they asked us to play. I told them no because we were on the way to the air show. We got on our bikes and rode just a few yards past first base when we heard the roar of air planes coming. We stopped and looked to the south and saw three planes coming toward us. They were low and had just finished doing barrel-rolls. All three planes were side by side. The two planes on the outside pulled up hard but the plane in the middle was upside down and instead of going up it dove down and crashed. My brother and I probably had a better view than anybody.
I did go to be interviewed by a couple of Navy officers. When I told them that planes had just finished a barrel-roll (probably starting over the air port which was less than a mile away) and that the plane in the middle was upside down when the other two planes pulled up, they became agitated and asked how I could have seen this. I pointed out that I was probably only about 50 yards from the planed went down and crashed. They acted unfriendly and said thanks for coming to them and i can leave now.
The path of the plane was straight down Perkins avenue and the third base line of the ball diamond. My brother and I were probably within 35 yards from the third base line.