El Paso, TX Reconnaissance Bomber Crashes, Mar 1955


El Paso, Tex. -- (UP) -- Three Kansas-based fliers were killed Friday night when their RB-47E six-jet reconnaissance bomber crashed while they were trying to land at El Paso International Airport during a dust storm.
The plane, part of the 90th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Forbes Air Force Base, Topeka, Kan., crashed and exploded in a heavily-populated residential area. No one else was killed.
A second plane, a TV-2 single-jet Navy trainer, also was reported to have crashed east of El Paso with two men aboard, but Maj. Robert Nelson, Biggs Air Force base public information officer said the wreckage of this plane had not been found at 3 a.m. and the search was called off until daylight.
The Kansas bomber had been diverted to BIggs Air Force Base in El Paso on a flight from Lake Charles, La., because runways at its home base in Topeka had become snow-covered and too dangerous to land on.
Killed were Maj. JULES M. FANTELL, Capt. JOSEPH R. KINGSTON and 1st Lt. J. R. WILSON. MRS. HELEN LODGEWOOD, a civilian resident of the area, was burned, but not seriously, by flaming metal from the plane when she and her husband ran from their home near the crash site.
The crash was the second of a Forbes AFB RB-47E since the Kansas field was converted to handle the speedy reconnaissance planes. Another 90th wing attached plane crashed near Olathe, Kan., last Oct. 3, killing three men.
Wreckage in Friday night's crash was scattered over three blocks and the grass was burned black where the big plane hit. It crashed on the foundations of what was to be a new home.
Visibility had been cut by blowing dust to a half mile. The Air Force could not explain immediately why the plane was attempting to land at International Airport rather than Biggs AFB as originally instructed.
Witnesses said two houses were hit and the roof was sheared off one of them. The occupants of the worst hit house, MRS. JACK RYE and her children, escaped injury.
MRS. RYE said she ran into the bedroom, grabbed her children and escaped out a window.
Another witness, Jim McMurray, a soldier, said he heard a loud explosion and saw a great mushroom of flame leap skyward.
Firemen from Biggs Air Force base and the City of El Paso quickly brought the fire under control but not before several houses in the area had been seared on the outside.

Las Vegas Daily Optic New Mexico 1955-03-26