Emmons, WV Jet Fighters Collide, Mar 1950


Emmons, W. Va. -- Two Air Force F-86 jet fighter planes crashed yesterday in a rugged mountain section about 20 miles from here, killing both pilots. Time of the crash was set at 12:19 p.m., less than two minutes after the two planes took off from Kanawha Airport.
An eye-witness said the two planes brushed wings at about 5,000 feet and plummeted downward, disintegrating as they hit the earth with a deafening explosion that severely damaged a house 50 yards away and blew the pilots to bits.
The two pilots were identified as:
Lt. Col. A. F. REINHARDT, 43, Huntington, Long Island, N.Y.
Capt. GEORGE W. EVANS, JR., 28, Laurel, Miss.
The scene of the crash was Gripp Station on Coal River, a small hamlet about a mile from Emmons, the nearest post office.
The two crafts were en route to Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Ala., from Washington D.C., and they were to proceed to Kirtland Base, Albuquerque, N.M. A fuel shortage had forced the two to make an emergency landing Tuesday at the Charleston field to await shipment from Dayton, Ohio.
Eye witnesses said the planes exploded in a blinding flash as they struck the ground. They fell about 50 yards apart on the hillside, tearing out great chunks of earth. A two-feet square piece of a fuselage was the largest fragment of either plane that was found. Only a few scattered pieces of either man could be located in the wreckage. Small pieces of clothing and wreckage wre blown over a half-mile area.
A house about 60 yards from the crash scene was nearly blown from its foundation by the force of the explosion. Owner of the house, P. A. Parcell, a 41-year-old coal miner, said his house was badly damaged by the blast. A metal piece of one plane was blown completely through one wall into the living room. Present in the house at the time was Parcell's wife, Vivian, his three-month-old daughter, Jean, and an uncle, J.E. Whittington. Whittington said he was standing at a kitchen window when the planes hit and erupted in a blinding flash. "I saw a flash," he said, "then all of a sudden the window blew out and the dirt started flying in my face." Whittington said he was scared so badly that he ran into another room, closing the door behind him.
Mrs. Parcell said she thought lightning had struck the house and immediately grabbed up her baby and ran from the house. "When I reached the road in front of the house," she said.
"I looked up on the hill back of the house and saw the two fires, pieces of stuff were flying all through the air."

Continued on Page 2.