Perkins, OK Bomber Collision, Apr 1951
AIR CRASH OVER OKLAHOMA KILLS 14.
Guthrie, Okla., (UP) -- An F-51 fighter plane plowed into a giant B-36 bomber, killing 14 men, during a mock aerial battle over Central Oklahoma Friday.
The dead included the fighter pilot and a civilian observer who was aboard the B-36, the world's largest land military plane.
Four of the bomber's crew parachuted and escaped without serious injuries. They were held in an Oklahoma City hospital overnight.
Four F-51 fighter planes were simulating attacks on the 10-engine bomber to give its gunnery crews target practice as it roared southward for a simulated bomb attack on Oklahoma City during a routine 17-hour training mission. The bomber was based at Fort Worth, Tex.
One fighter, driving in for attack, smashed into the bomber's cigar-shaped fuselage broadside, splitting the craft wide open with a crash heard on the ground four miles below.
Wreckage of the two planes was scattered over three square miles and it took identification teams at Tinker Air Base in Oklahoma City four hours to identify the mangled bodies.
Maj. L. W. Wright, public information officer at Tinker, said the B-36 split into three sections but it was not known whether the plane was ripped apart by the force of the collision or when it slammed into the ground.
One witness to the crash, Jack Floyd, of Perkins, Okla., said the bomber leveled off and appeared to be gliding in for a landing before it dropped suddenly to earth. He said the tail section fell off before the plane hit the ground.
"I didn't see the little plane at all," he said. "The bomber made a good try at leveling off, even though it was on fire, before it hit."
Mrs. Loren Westfall said she heard a loud crash and went outside to see the flaming plane falling toward earth.
"I saw one body blown from a plane," she said.
The body of the fighter pilot, identified as Lt. FRED W. BLACK, Boley, Okla., was found 50 yards from the bomber's nose section in a field. He was still strapped to his metal pilot's seat.
Wright said several crewmen were found dead after descending in parachutes, indicating they died of injuries on the way to earth. The highway patrol found an opened parachute, part of a uniform still in its harness, 40 miles northeast of the wreckage.
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