Wichita, KS B-47 Strato-jet Explosion & Crash, Mar 1956

3 Die In Jet Plane Blast

Wichita, Kan. (UP) – A B-47 Stratojet exploded over East Wichita Wednesday as thousands watched. It crashed four miles northeast of the city, killing its crew of three.
The office of information services at McConnell Air Force Base said the explosion occurred after takeoff, probably at about 2,000 feet altitude.

Wreckage was strewn along the countryside for several miles as the wings sheared off and the fuselage tumbled to earth.

McConnell identified the pilot and instructor as Capt. William C. CRAGGS of Wichita, He is survived by his widow and two sons.

The students were: Lt. Col. William H. DAMES, 39, of Oconomowoc, Wis. His wife and two sons are reported to be living in Milwaukee.

1st Lt. John C. LEYSATH, 24, off North, South Carolina.

The six-jet USAF plane was watched in its death plunge by the pilot of a Navy Neptune bomber, Lt. Maurice BOYACK of the Hutchinson, Kan., Naval Air Station.

BOYACK said the explosion occurred in a climbing turn. He flew his bomber to a point where he could see the wings rip off the B-47. He said it appeared there was a fire in the mid-section, followed by the explosion.

Fire fighters battled the blaze at the crash scene for more than an hour. The plane crashed within 1,000 feet of two large suburban houses.

Anderson Herald, Anderson, IN 29 Mar 1956


Witnessed This Crash

I was in the third grade and was watching this plane climb northwards when it exploded in mid-air. I was in our bathroom getting ready for school. My parents had recently purchased a 1 acre lot at 37th Street North and Oliver. Part of the wreckage was on that lot. My parents never built a house there as hey had originally planned and eventually sold the lot. When this crash happened we were living at 8th and Green in east Wichita. I was always fascinated with planes and flying and always watched airplanes. Nine years later I watched a KC-135 crash in Wichita also. I would go on to become a pilot and flew DC-8/61 and 63s and the B-727/100. I was also a crewmember with the USN in P-3 Orions. May all of these crewmembers rest in piece.

B47 crash Wichita Kansas 1956

Captain William C. Craggs has three daughters not two sons
Carolyn, Pamela, and Cynthia