Columbus, OH Jet Tankers Collide On Runway, Mar 1973


Columbus, Ohio (AP) -- An Air Force team has begun sifting the wreckage of two Strategic Air Command juet tankers that collided on the ground and burned, killing two crewmen at Lockbourne Air Force Base.
The investigating team also planned to interview the eight surviving crew members.
The two KC135 Stratotankers, used for airborne refueling, smashed into each other before dawn Thursday while taxing to the runway during a practice alert.
One tanker burst into flames, killing the navigator, Maj. WILLIAM E. THOMAS, 41, of Shuqualak, Miss., and the copilot, 1st Lt. BARI W. STONE, 25, of Bules Creek, N.C.
The aircraft's commander, Capt. JAMES R. BLACKWELL, 28, of Canal Winchester, Ohio, was flown to Brooke Army Hospital, San Antonio, Tex., Thursday night. His condition was reported serious today.
The planes were traveling about 5 miles an hour, an Air Force spokesman said.
After the impact, BLACKWELL'S tanker continued 200 yards before coming to a stop in a muddy, grassy section just off the concrete apron.
Flames engulfed the tanker from the cockpit to the mid-section and burned two large holes in the aircraft. The $10 million tanker was considered a total loss.

Del Rio News Herald Texas 1973-03-09