Nitro, WV Small Plane Collision, June 1952



Five persons, including GLENN T. CLARK, pioneer flier of the Kanawha valley, died last evening when two small planes crashed after colliding in the air 200 feet over the Armour Creek backwater just north of Nitro.
The dead:
GLENN T. CLARK, 45, of Rt. 1, Winfield; owner and operator of Clark field directly across Kanawha River from the scene of the crash, and a widely-known flier and flying instructor.
DEAN F. RAHALL, 34, of 826 Woodland Av., South Charleston, widely-known automobile dealer, part owner of radio station WWNE, Beckley, and former co-owner of Rahall Motors in Charleston.
WILLILAM RAYMOND MURPHY, 34, of 1006 Washington St., Nitro, owner of Murphy Motor Sales at Neyes Avenue and 35th Street in Kanawha City.
JACK FRAME, 36, of 1810 Summer Av., South Charleston, an agent for Pilot Life Insurance Co.
THOMAS KIRBY, JR., 27, of 3321 Virginia Av., Charleston, and Chevy Chase, Md., petroleum engineer for Dowell, Inc., with offices in Charleston.
CLARK was piloting a two-place cream-colored Piper Cub training plane, with KIRBY as a student passenger, and had just taken off from Clark field for a series of spot landings.
MURPHY was piloting a red, four-place Stinson Voyager, with FRAME and RAHALL as passengers. They were approaching Clark field for landing after flying from Columbus, O.
State Trooper Lawrence Craft and Cpl. D. J. Gilbert who aided in removing the bodies from the planes and assisted in the investigation, said they were told by witnesses to the accident that the red plane, with MURPHY, FRAME and RAHALL aboard, was flying into the setting sun toward Clark field when the collision happened.
CLARK and KIRBY were completing a turn to head back to the field. Both craft were flying "not more than 200 or 300 feet high" at the time, several witnesses said.
John Hunter, 13-year-old Nitro boy caddying at the nearby Sleepy Hollow golf club, said he saw the planes collide.
"The red one was just a little bit above the white one, and just before they hit the white one (CLARK'S plane) seemed to sort of come up underneath the other one and they hit together and then bounced apart. The red plane went straight down, it looked to me, and the white one sort of glided off toward the field, then spiraled down fast," he related.
Director Robert H. Stark, director of the state aeronautics commission who was on the scene shortly after the crash, labeled it "an air collision, nothing more." He said that apparently both planes' engines were functioning perfectly.
The crash occurred between 5:30 and 6 p.m. The Stinson plane, piloted by MURPHY, fell into the Armour Creek backwater about 100 yards from the north end of a bridge on Rt. 25, near the point of collision.

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