Wray, CO Airplane Gas Tank Explosion, Sep 1920
TANK EXPLODES KILLING FLYER.
EXHIBITION PLANE AT WRAY, COLO., FALLS TO GROUND, EXPLODING GAS TANK.
PILOT ESCAPES INJURY.
DEAD MECHANIC IS SON OF STATE REPRESENTATIVE W. D. McGINNIS.
Wray, Colo., Sept. 20. -- Explosion of the gas tank in a Curtiss-Humphreys Oriole airplane, following a 100-foot fall, resulted in the death here of JOHN McGINNIS, an airplane mechanic, and son of W. D. McGinnis, state representative and prominent banker of this town. ALEXANDER "RED" LENDRUM of Denver was piloting the machine. It crashed to the ground and burst into flames. LENDRUM was badly burned when he attempted to rescue McGINNIS. There were few witnesses to the disaster, which occurred one mile north of the city.
Snapping of a guy wire attached to the rudder of the plane is said to have caused the catastrophe. The machine was coming out of a tail spin, preparatory to landing.
The body of the mechanic was burned to a crisp before it could be extricated from the blazing wreckage. The machine was almost entirely demolished.
Following airplane exhibitions at Burlington, Colo., the two aviators started for Wray. Just before landing, the pilot began a series of tail spins. When scarcely 100 feet in the air and as he was coming out of the last spin, the rudder failed to operate, owing, it is believed, to the broken guy wire.
The machine crashed nose down to the earth. A deafening explosion followed as the gas tank blew up. The flaming oil spread over the machine.
McGINNIS, seated in the cockpit, was injured and overcome by the fumes and flames. LENDRUM, freeing himself from the wreckage, rushed into the fire, endeavoring to rescue his companion. The terrific heat drove him back. He and Steve Briggs, a farmer, who saw the accident and hurried to the wreck, were forced to stand helplessly by as McGINNIS was burned.
The flames were finally extinguished and the body of the mechanic removed.
Officials of the Curtiss-Humphreys Airplane Company declared here that JOHN McGINNIS, the mechanic killed in a fall of one of the company's planes at Wray yesterday, had been employed at the flying field for more than two years.
ALEXANDER LENDRUM, the pilot, who escaped serious injury, is, they said, a veteran flyer, and has been engaged in exhibition flights in Colorado and surrounding states for some time.
Bulletin Casa Grande Arizona 1920-09-25