Allegan, MI Army Plane Fire, Aug 1936

Blazing Plane Forces Two Young Army Fliers To Take Leap to Death

Drop Made From Too Low Altitude to Permit Parachutes to Open

ALLEGAN, Mich., Aug. 18 (AP). - A young army pilot and his mechanic, attempting to land their blazing pursuit plane, were killed Tuesday when the flames forced them to jump at low altitude.

"The drop was too short for their parachutes to open, and they were just out on a string," said a farmer who saw Second Lieut. William W. Harding and Private Francis Maier plummet to their deaths.

The two were flying a new two-place pursuit plane in formation with five other ships from Selfridge Field, taking part in the second army war games, when fire suddenly streamed from the plane.

Other pilots in formation said that the plane burst into flames at an altitude of about 1,200 feet.

Lieutenant Harding, 25, received his commission in the air corps reserve Oct. 15, 1935. He had been on active duty at Selfridge Field since his graduation in June, 1934, from the army flying school at San Antonio, Texas. He entered the school from Los Angeles, Calif.

Private Maier enlisted several months ago after his graduation from the Dowagiac (Mich.) High School.

The Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 19 Aug 1936