Seattle, WA Jet Interceptor Crashes, Apr 1962


Seattle, Wash. - (AP) - You are an Air Force pilot in a picked group flying over the Seattle World's Fair in an opening day salute.
Directly over the 600-foot space needle, the engine of your F102 jet interceptor quits.
What do you do?
Capt. JOSEPH WILDT, 33, of Cincinnati, O., faced that decision Saturday.
What he did, he said Sunday, was break away from formation, try unsuccessfully to start his plane, then attempt to dive it into Lake Washington and, at the last possible moment, bail out.
The plane plowed into a residential neighborhood, starting a fire which killed an elderly couple, destroyed two houses and damaged four others.
The dead were HOWARD SMITH, 68, and his wife, 63.
WILDT was picked up by a private boat. He is in good condition in the hospital at Paine Field north of here, where he is stationed. He has a small abrasion over his right eye.
"I hesitated as long as I could and still realize any chance of escaping the aircraft," he said in an interview. "I just knew it was going into the water when I bailed out."
Instead it lifted momentarily, cleared a low hill and crashed into the residential area.
"He did everything right and as briefed," said Lt. Col. Wyman D. Anderson, leader of the nine-plane formation which flew the aerial salute. "We're glad he made it."
WILDT has been flying F102s since January, 1957.

The Kane Republican Pennsylvania 1962-04-23