Port Washington, Long Island, NY Amphibian Plane Crash, Apr 1940


PORT WASHINGTON, L. I., April 27 — Three occupants of a twin-motored amphibian plane on a mission for the Civil Aeronautics Authority were killed shortly after noon today when the ship nosedived at high speed into Manhasset Bay, flipped over on its back and immediately sank.

Eric Radke, pilot for the CAA, was at the controls and went down with the plane, which was shattered as it hit the water with terrific force, throwing William A. Bowerman, inspector for the CAA, and George J. Daufkirch, who was negotiating for sale of the plane to the CAA, out of the cabin into the water. Bowerman and Daufkirch were taken ashore alive but died of their injuries during the afternoon. The plane, a recently rebuilt Sikorsky about ten years old, was being purchased by the CAA for work in Alaska, and Radke was to become its co-pilot. Although an experienced aviator, he did not have a CAA rating for that type of plane, and with Daufkirch accompanying them, he and Bowerman took off from Roosevelt Field this morning to enable the latter to give Radke a rating test. They landed at Port Washington Seaplane Base and again took off, flying out over the bay.

Miss Arline Hays, daughter of Arthur Garfield Hays, lawyer, was standing on the lawn of the Hays home as the plane streaked away. She said that it seemed to be unable to rise and was at an altitude of not more than 200 feet when it suddenly dived with the engines roaring. She ran into the house and telephoned Port Washington police. Emul Kremer of Long Island City and Otto Hildebrandt of Far Rockaway, painters, who had been at work on the residence of George F, Trommer, brewer, were seated on a dock eating their lunches when the plane struck. They said it "seemed to explode."

Bert Patrick, pilot, who was watching from the seaplane base, climbed into a plane and flew out to the wreck. By the time he got there boys in a rowboat had picked up Daufkirch. Patrick got to the floundering Bowerman and helped lift him into the rowboat.

Captain Charles Schorner of 2656 Decatur Avenue, the Bronx, whose thirty-foot cruiser had been in the vicinity with a fishing party aboard, got a line to the rowboat and towed it ashore. The injured men were carried into the Pan American Airways hangar.