Council Grove, KS Tanker Crashes, Apr 1956
EIGHT AIRMEN KILLED IN PLANE CRASH.
FLYING TANKER FALLS DURING "SENTIMENTAL" LAST FLIGHT IN KANSAS.
Abilene, (AP) -- All eight crewmen perished when a big Air Force KC97 tanker plane crashed and exploded on a farm about 25 miles east of Abilene near Woodbine, Kas., yesterday.
It was from Forbes Air Force Base at Topeka.
Forbes Air Force Base said those killed were:
Capt. EDWARD SHIPKA, 33, plane commander, Hartford, Conn.
S. Sgt. KENNETH E. VAN PATTEN, 24, instructor boom operator, Allegan, Mich.
A2C JURI ERIC JONNAS, 23, assistant boom operator, Elmhurst, N.J.
S. Sgt. DONALD S. DEL PRIORE, 26, student boom operator, Brooklyn, N.Y.
2nd Lt. REGINALD O. WILKIE, JR., 22, navigator, El Monte, Calif.
Capt. WILLIAM J. BRENNAN, 40, instructor pilot, Topeka, Kan.
2nd Lt. ROBERT BENNETT, 27, co-pilot, Topeka, Kan.
S. Sgt. WILLIAM L. FRITTS, 29, flight engineer, Topeka, Kan.
Air Force investigators are trying to find out what caused the accident. Some ground witnesses said the plane exploded in the air shortly after takeoff but others reported there was no explosion until it crashed in a wheat field northwest of Council Grove. The crash scene was 65 miles from the base.
Air Force officials said the double-deck plane, one of the largest used by the Air Force was loaded with 40 tons of jet fuel. KC-97's are used to refuel smaller planes in mid-air.
The crash occurred near the home of Frank Frohn, who said there was no explosion until the plane hit the earth. The blast scattered wreckage over five acres.
Mrs. Marcella Breen, a farm wife, said the plane exploded in the air. Henry Obermeyer of White City, Kan., who was planting corn at the time of the crash, said the big plane glided down so sharply that "I was scared at first it would hit me."
It was the second Forbes plane to crash in less than three months. Six men were killed in an earlier smashup of a Forbes stratojet.
Holland Evening Sentinel Michigan 1956-04-26