Twin Falls, ID Bomber Crashes, Sep 1946
OVERSEAS HEROES AMONG 4 DEAD IN BOMBER CRASH AT FIELD HERE.
Names of the four airmen who perished when their A-26 attack bomber crashed near the Twin Falls airport Monday afternoon were released by the army Tuesday as a three-man board began its investigation of the tragedy.
Of the four, two had survived many European theater missions and wore the distinguished flying cross and the air medal, among other decorations.
The Dead are:
Capt. PAUL J. KAPSAR, 28, son of Mr. and Mrs. John J. Kapsar of Cleveland, Ohio.
Capt. J. P. AGNEW, son of Mrs. Roberta B. Agnew, Middletown, N.Y.
Pfc. ROBERT V. HANCOCK, son of Mrs. Wava F. Hancock, Long Beach, Calif.
Pfc. L. E. ARMIAN, assigned to the 325th parachute infantry company, stationed at Ft. Bragg, N.C.
They were identified by Lieut.-Col. Lawrence G. Gilbert, commanding officer of the fourth ferrying group to which the fliers were attached at Memphis, Tenn., home base of the air transport command air demonstration unit which appeared in Monday's air show here sponsored by the Twin Falls air patrol squadron.
Captains KAPSAR and AGNEW had both won many decorations while in action.
Members of the army investigating board which arrived here at 11 a.m. today from Hill Field, Ogden, are Capt. Frank Cox, chairman; Capt. Robert Spencer, engineering department; and Capt. Alan MacFarlane, medical department.
Their objective is to determine the cause of the crash which occurred before 1,000 persons who had gathered for the air show. Army officers indicated that the board will conduct an extensive examination of the site of the crash and will check observations of witnesses to determine the reason or reasons for the accident. They will then make a report for release by their command.
Because of the utter devastation which occurred when the plane crashed, it was believed that their investigation could take several days.
The plane went down at 2:30 p.m. Monday near the close of the show in which numerous types of combat planes had appeared. Although the ship crashed only a mile southwest of the airport many persons watching the show were unaware of what had occurred until afterwards.
The plane had just completed a run over the field at about 250 miles an hour, which gave spectators the impression of a relatively low speed as compared to the terrific pace of the P-51's which preceded it at 500 miles an hour.
Completing its run at an altitude of 500 feet, the pilot of the craft pulled up in a tight chandelle, but the ship fell off on its left wing and crashed from a height estimated by the army at 2,000 feet.
The heavy plane, its two engines developing a total of 4,000 horsepower, fell at a 45-degree angle into a pasture one-quarter of a mile from the J. P. Bellville residence, one mile south and one mile west of the airport.
The wreckage, scattered over an area four city blocks long by two blocks wide, remained under guard by CAP members last night. The bodies were taken to the White mortuary here where arrangements are pending notification from the army.
Col. C. C. Cox, commanding officer of the AAF demonstration unit which was making its final appearance in Idaho before returning to its base at Memphis, Tenn., told the Associated Press last night:
"I saw the accident myself, and believe it was the result of engine trouble," and in no way the result of any violation of flying regulations.
The A-26 had appeared here to thrill the crowds along with four P-51s, which raced over the field at 500 miles per hour; two jet P-80 fighters, which topped 585 miles per hour, and other types of military aircraft.
After completing its speed run, said Colonel Cox, the A-26 "then pulled up to about 1,500 feet. At that point the pilot pulled it into a tight turn to the left."
Cox said "from the way the plane then acted I believe the left engine failed, which flipped the plane over on its back."
The colonel said this "accidental maneuver may have led onlookers to believe the pilot was attempting a slow roll but no such aerobatics were a part of the scheduled performance."
Spectators watched the A-26 complete its run and attempt the maneuver described by the colonel, and noticed that the plane appeared to be heading for the ground at a speed and at an angle which meant a safe landing was impossible.
The plane disappeared behind a hill, and a second or two later, the spectators saw a cloud of dust, fully one-quarter of a mile long, arise over the summit of the hill.
An army ambulance and a Twin Falls ambulance stationed at the field immediately headed for the scene of the disaster.
Bellville, who was working in his fields, was about one-quarter of a mile from the scene of the crash, he said.
"There was a dull smash as the ship crashed into the pasture. There was no fire. The wreckage was scattered fully 7 rods and knocked down some fences," said the farmer.
Maj. Thomas W. Finnie, public relations officer, said the pilot had great presence of mind, cutting the switches and preventing the wreckage from burning. The Bellville home is one-quarter mile from the point of impact.
The military public address system announcer, who had said, "there goes a beautiful ship, folks," as the A-26 roared past the spectators, turned to caution the crowd to remain for the rest of the exhibition, and not to go near the wreckage.
Twin Falls Times News Idaho 1946-09-17