Camp Edwards, MA Planes Collide In Mid Air, Apr 1952 - Witness Story

Transport, Jet Planes Collide Over Camp Edwards; 12 Killed

OTIS AIR FORCE BASE, Mass., (UP)--Horror-struck witnesses of a mid-air collision that killed 12 airmen were questioned by two boards of inquiry today as the Air Force looked for a possible flaw in safety regulations.

One board was composed of officers at the scene of the spectacular crash here yesterday and another flew here from Stewart Air Force Base in Newburgh, N Y., home base of C-47 transport in which seven officers and three enlisted men hurtled to their deaths.

Out of Clouds

The transport and and F-94 all-weather jet fighter carrying a pilot and radar man collided as they emerged from a cloud formation 6000 or 7000 feet up and plummeted to earth in a shower of flame.

An Otis Air Force Base spokesman said one of the planes might have come unexpectedly out of the clouds and smashed into the second. Both planes had just taken off from the field.

Ralph Perry, a state fire warden stationed in a tower at near-by West Falmouth, said he heard an explosion and saw the wreckage falling around the Camp Edwards firing range area.

"It was only a matter of seconds before the woods began catching fire," he said. Crews from Camp Edwards and fire fighters from near-by towns put the series of six fires under control last night.

Besides Perry, scores of eye-witnesses telephoned news of the crash to authorities even as the wreckage fell earthward.

The wreckage of the jet plane still contained the bodies of Capt. Charles E. Smoke, 35, of Shenandoah, Iowa, the pilot, and 1st Lt. Thaddeus C. Kulpinski, 32, of Philadelphia, radar observer. Only the pilot of the transport was still in the plane when it hit the ground.

Lt Col. William C. Bryson, 34, of Stewart Air Force Base was the senior officer aboard. The others included two majors, four captains, and noncommissioned officers, none from Massachusetts.

The Berkshire Evening Eagle, Pittsfield, Berkshire, MA 10 Apr 1952