Foxville, MD Training Plane Crash, July 1950



Two men perished about 1:30 Monday morning when their twin-engine Air Force training plane crashed into the side of a mountain and burned between Foxville and Smithsburg. State Police removed two bodies from the wreckage but identification was not immediately made.
The accident occurred during a heavy rainstorm and authorities express the conviction that the pilot, bound for Selfridge Field, Mich., was lost in the overcast and failed to clear the mountain top.
State police recovered the bodies and identified the pilots as Lt. CHARLES BERNHARD, of Detroit and Lt. JAMES ROBERT McWILLIAMS, 24, of Farmington, Mich.
The crash occurred about a mile south of Route 77, some 200 yards off the Appalachian Trail, in terrain so rough the bodies could not be brought out until daylight. The charred remains were taken to Hagerstown. The crash scene in near the famour presidential retreat, Shangri-La in the Catoctin Recreation Area.
Shortly before noon Selfridge Field confirmed identification of the plane and said the two pilots were Air Force Reserve officers, on a weekend cross-country training flight. They were members of the 439th Troop Carrier wing.
The Beechcraft trainer had been serviced at Baltimore's Harbor Field and took off about 12:40 a.m. for Michigan, the Associated Press reported.
Residents of the area notified State Police after hearing the plane crash and seeing the blaze. Sgt. W. W. Corbin and troopers from Barracks
'B' went immediately to the scene where the two engines were found some 25 to 30 feet apart. The largest piece of the wreckage was a ten-foot section of fuselage. Bodies of the pilots were brought out on stretchers.
Ambulances from as far as Bethesda rushed to the vicinity of the crash following a report that the craft was a passenger liner and that a large number of persons had perished. Roads were lined during the morning with cars as the curious attempted to get a sight of the charred wreckage.
City Officer Charles McKeldin, and Blue Ridge bus driver Richard Mercer, of Frederick, were among the early arrivals at the crash area. Milton Harne, Wolfsville store keeper, also reported visiting the scene.
Mrs. Lee Oswald said the impact of the plane rattled her windows and she was sure a bomb had fallen. Paul Heffner said the plane went over his log cabin so low he was afraid it would take the roof off.
State police reported finding wreckage scattered over an area about 100 feet square in a hollow. One body was under a wing, the other lay clear about 7 or 8 feet away.

Frederick News-Post Maryland 1950-07-11