Detroit, MI Air Show Accident, Aug 1952
KOREAN JET ACE KILLED AS PLANE FALLS APART AT DETROIT SHOW.
FOUR OF 51,000 SPECTATORS INJURED AS DEBRIS SHOWERS EXPOSITION AREA.
Detroit, Aug. 30 (AP) -- An Air Force F-89 Scorpion tore itself apart above 51,000 spectators and carried its pilot, a Korean jet ace, and his radar observer to their deaths at the International Aviation Exposition here today.
Four spectators were hurt, none serious, although at first one was believed to have been killed. Five cars were wrecked or damaged by falling debris. Several spectators had narrow, almost miraculous escapes.
Killed were Maj. DONALD ADAMS, 31, of Mt. Clemens, Mich., the pilot, and Capt. ED KELLY, 34, of New York City, the radar observer in the all-weather jet fighter.
ADAMS, father of three, returned home only June 16 from Korea, where he bagged 6 1/2 Communist MIGs and became the nation's 13th jet fighter ace. Both he and KELLY were members of the 61st Fighter Squadron stationed at Griffiss Air Force Base, Rome, N.Y.
As ADAMS and KELLY came screaming over the field at 200 feet with another F-89 for a demonstration of high-speed climbing, a wing flew off their plane. It spun crazily upward. The plane's tail flew off and the remainder, carrying the doomed men, splattered into an ammunition storage shed and exploded.
Exploding small-arms bullets from the storage supply of the Michigan National Guard endangered spectators who flocked to the scene.
The second Scorpion, carrying Maj. John Recher, 31, of Miamisburg, Ohio, and Capt. Thomas Myslicki, 29, of Minneapolis, landed safely and undamaged.
Among the spectators were Air Force Secretary Finletter and Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg, Air Force chief of staff. Both rushed to the crash scene, ignoring the exploding bullets as they attempted to aid in futile rescue attempt.
Vandenberg said the accident probably was caused by the force updrafts and downdrafts encountered in pulling up in a sharp climb with afterburners adding scores of horsepower to the plane's jet power plant.
(Afterburners convert exhaust gases into additional energy and are used to add speed and climb.)
"Close to the ground," Vandenberg said, "you get these updrafts and downdrafts and when the afterburner gives you that extra speed it is like a boat in the roughest sea."
Zanesville Signal Ohio 1952-08-31