Ardmore, OK Airliner Carrying Troops, Apr 1966

Ardmore OK  Memorial Site.JPG



Gene Autry, Okla. (UPI) -- Investigators found the flight recorder intact Saturday in the charred wreckage of an airliner shuttling troops and set up an emergency center to investigate the cause of the crash that killed 81 of the 98 persons aboard.
FBI agents, military investigators and officials of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) sifted through the debris in hilly southern Oklahoma. There was no indication of sabotage in the wreck -- the first in 27 years of flying for American Flyers, a charter airline.
Survivors, many of them cruelly burned, were being questioned when possible to help piece out the story of horror.
The pilot, who was president of the firm, was among the dead.
The four-engine turboprop Electra, with 92 GIs and 6 crew members, smashed into a brushy, rocky hillside Friday night in a thunderstorm.
Bodies, debris and cattle from a herd caught in the plane's path were scattered hundreds of yards. The aircraft burned.
Some survivors were still in their seats with their seatbelts attached when found by rescuers.
Teams of burn specialists were sent to hospitals that held the injured.
The dead were clumped in groups along the mountainous terrain, some in their seats, some badly mutilated, some with arms and legs sticking out at hideous angles.
The crash was the third worst military air disaster in United States history.
Most of the passengers were bound from Ft. Ord, Calif., to Ft. Benning's airborne training achool in Georgia, some possibly destined for Viet Nam.
Sixteen CAB specialists flew from Washington to Perrin Air Force Base, Sherman, Tex., then were taken by bus to Ardmore, Okla., near the crash secne.
A spokesman said the flight recorder, a basketball-sized instrument package with the vital data on an airline's performance, was recovered in good condition.
The flight recorder was to be checked for the plane's speed, altitude, direction and acceleration forces at the time of the crash.
"There were bodies scattered all over," Sheriff Harold Rudd said of the crash scene. He was one of the first there.
"Live ones were screaming and hollering," he said. "The first thing we did was get the live ones out, then we started working on the dead."
One of the survivors was PVT. JAMES GORMAN of Bellerose, N.Y., who vowed, "I am never going to fly again."
The president of American Flyers, REED PIGMAN, a man who devoted much of his life to training pilots and who helped in early development of instrument flying, was the pilot. The five other crewmembers who died with him were co-pilot WILBUR MARR, engineers CHARLES GRAY and ANTHONY PICA, all of Ardmore, and stewardesses WANDA STONECIPHER of Stratford, Okla., and DYANA DUNCAN of Texas.
PIGMAN was making his landing approach at the airfield at Ardmore where American Flyers has its pilot training school and operations headquartes. It was raining and there was some lightning and thunder.
He decided the first approach was not quite right. J. E. Wright, who works at the flight service station, said PIGMAN radioed he was making another approach.
"He said, 'I'm going to come back -- I like Runway 12,'" Wright said.
The plane never reached it.
It "wobbled" GORMAN recalled, then smashed into the rocky hillside, bursting into flames and scattering debris.
GORMAN saw a flashing light and was surrounded by fire. He was strapped to his seat. Another seat pinned him, but he struggled loose and summond strength to stand up. His hands were burned badly and he could not help those around him.
"A farmer came up and got the main out of the wreckage," GORMAN said. "I held a flashlight while he helped the man out."
The injured went to several hospitals in the area, then 10 were transferred to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, 90 miles to the north. Six of those were later flown out to Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio, a burn center with better facilities to treat them.

Washington -- (AP) -- (UPI) -- The Defense Department issued Saturday the following list of names of soldiers killed when an Army charter plane crashed Friday night in Oklahoma.
FRANK CROPEZA, wife, Mrs. Betty Jo Cropeza, San Francisco.
DANIEL F. GRUENSKI, wife, Mrs. Sandy A. Gruenski, Camden, N.J.
BANNIE R. SCOTT, Taylor, Mich.
JOSE D. ARCHULETA, Colorado Springs, Colo.
MICHAEL E. McLEOD, father Frank McLeod, Altandena, Calif.
LARRY E. NEWPORT, parents Mr. and Mrs. William Newport, San Diego.
GARY W. KEPIRO, mother Mrs. Mildred Horstman, Los Angeles.
DENNIS R. DAWKINS, parents Mr. and Mrs. Parter Dawkins, Chicago.
OSCAR BENEVENTO, JR., parents Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Benevento, Sr., Hilltown, Pa.
GEORGE BRACKETT, son of Jessie Brunson, Clarksdale, Miss.
GILBERTO GARCIA, mother Lucy J. Garcia, Tucumcari, N.M.
CHARLES E. JOHNSON, parents Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Johnson, Baton Rouge, La.
RAYMOND VOGT, JR., parents Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Vogt, St., Middletown, Pa.
JOSEPH R. STALLBAUM, mother Mrs. Jean M. Stallbaum, Philadelphia, Pa.
THOMAS C. WARD, father Thomas G. Ward, 424 Peroria Ave., San Francisco.
RICHARD J. MOSEMAN, parents Mr. and Mrs. Richard D. Moseman, Citrus Heights, Calif.
EDDIE L. RIPPEE, parents Mr. and Mrs. Edward L. Rippee, Hollandale, Tenn.
ELIJAH WALKER, JR., parents Mr. and Mrs. Elijah Walker, Sr., Memphis, Tenn.
ROBERT WRIGHT, mother Mrs. Lana H. Wright, Charleston, S. C.
THOMAS C. SMITH, wife Mrs. Thomas Smith, New Orleans, La.
WILLIAM TAYLOR, mother Mrs. Fern M. Taylor, Chicago.
ROBERT F. McGUIGAN, parents Mr. and Mrs. William McGuigan, Burlington, N.J.
JOHN J. LITTLE, parents Mr. and Mrs. James M. Little, Seal Deck, Orange, California.
RICHARD GRIEGO, parents Mr. and Mrs. Rene Griego, Fort Stanton, N.M.
PAUL E. LOWERY, wife Mrs. Margy G. Lowery, Memphis, Tenn.
STEVE R. BROWN, mother Mrs. Mamie F. Brown, Greenwood, S.C.
LUIS A. GOMEZ, parents Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo G. Gomez, El Paso, Tex.
WILLIAM P. DUNCAN, JR., father William P. Duncan, Sr., 8974 Oak Rd., Salinas, Calif.
ALBERT TAYLOR, mother Mrs. Claretha Lee, Chicago.
LEO R. BURNETT, parents Mr. and Mrs. Leo Burnett, Seaport, Texas.
PRESLEY J. TESSON, wife Mrs. P. I. Tesson, Abbeville, La.
FERNANDO PADILLA, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gregoria Padilla, Brownsville, Tex.
SAMUEL R. MANNING, son of Mr. and Mrs. James S. Manning, Georgetown, Tex.
JOHN P. ODOMS, son of Mrs. Ruby Odoms, San Marcus, Tex.
KENNETH J. BROWN, son of Mr. and Mrs. William W. Brown, Lynchburg, Va.
JOHN H. BENOIT, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joel J. Benoit, Lunenburg, Vt. Died in Hospital.
EUGENE M. STEGMILLER, son of Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Stegmiller, Tokeland, Wash.
CANDIDO RIVERA-GONZALEZ, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gerado Rivera, Utuado, Puerto Rico.
JOSE VAZQUEZ-DIAZ, son of Mr and Mrs. Carmelo Vasquez-Crus, San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico.
VENDELIN I. MACKOVICH, son of Mr. and Mrs. Vendelin Mackovich, Malaki, Czechoslovakia.
JUAN D. VALENCIA, son of Mrs. Maria Valencia, Guadalupe, Ariz.
JAMES D. EDWARDS, son of Mr. and Mrs. Hershel W. Edwards, Pencil Bluff, Ark.
TIM E. TOLISON, son of Mrs. Laura Lee Baesman, Santa Ana, Calif.
MICHAEL J. BILGEN, son of Mr. Lawrence Bilgen, Los Angeles, Calif.
DENNIS C. WISSELL, son of Mr. and Mrs. William J. Wissell, Ventura, Calif.
BARRY C. GOINES, son of Granville C. Goines, Martinez, Calif.
JOSE R. GUAJARDO, son of Mrs. Romana Guarjardo-Arispe, Goshen, Calif.
AUGUSTIN LEANOS, son of Mrs. Daria U. Leanos, Pueblo, Colo.
PRESTON C. BRIMM, son of Mr. and Mrs. Preston R. Brimm, Sterling, Colo.
STANLEY J. NASUTA, JR., wife Gladys Nasuta, Jr., East Hartford, Conn.
GARY NODDEN, son of Audrey J. Nodden, East Hartford, Conn.
NORMAN J. MUSKATELLO, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Muskatello, Portland, Conn.
ROBERT E. COMMUNE, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Commune, Ansonia, Conn.
RICHARD M. LARA, son of Mr. and Mrs. Manual Lara, Chicago.
EDWIN C. TURNER, son of Mrs. Annie Turner, Chicago.
RENE E. HAWKINS, son of Mr. and Mrs. Tompey L. Hawkins, Indianapolis.
DONALD L. MITCHELL, son of Mrs. Letha H. Mitchell, Salem, Ind.
WILLIAM R. BART, son of Mr. and Mrs. Willilam W. Bart, Riverside, N.J.
LUCAS E. GALLEGOS, wife Mrs. Lucille Gallegos, Don Diego Estanola, N.M.
VICTOR L. SANTANA, brother of Mrs. Margaret Gumes, Elmhurst, N.Y.
STEVE D. O'HANLON, son of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond O'Hanlon, Sea Cliff, N.Y.
WILLIAM T. KENNELLY, son of Mr. and Mrs. William P. Kennelly, Elmont, N.Y.
MITCHELL S. LINDENBERG, son of Harry Lindenberg, Jamaica, N.Y.
LEMUEL WILLS, son of Mrs. Dorothy Wills, New York, N.Y.
RICHARD A. SCHMIDT, son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Schmidt, Farmingdale, N.Y.
HOWARD BRIGGS, son of Mrs. Bernice Briggs, Tulsa, Okla.
RICHARD J. SPEARS, grandmother Mrs. Jo Ann McQueen, Spavinaw, Okla.
WILLIAM F. DOLECKI, JR., son of Mr. and Mrs. William F. Dolecki, Sr., Youngston, Ohio.
DAVID VAUGHN, son of Mr. Kenyon Vaughn, Sr., Cleveland, Ohio.
WAYNE F. BELTS, son of Mr. and Mrs. Leon Belts, Philadelphia, Pa.
PAUL M. GRALLA, son of Mr. and Mrs. Peter T. Gralla, Dubois, Pa.
WILLIAM F. WRIGHT, son of Mr. and Mrs. William N. Wright, Filbert, S.C.
BARRY W. HOLT, son of Mrs. Elizabeth P. Holt, Memphis, Tenn.

The Army at Ft. Sill, Okla., identified the 17 survivors of the crash:
RONALD V. GUGLIUZZA, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. John P. Gugliuzza, Buffalo, N.Y.; critical.
CHARLES HINEBAUGH, 17, son of Mrs. Joan Reitz Thomas, Nashville, Tenn.; no condition report, Ardmore Memorial Hospital.
DANIEL E. McNUTT, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul V. McNutt, San Diego, Calif.; no condition, Ardmore Memorial Hospital.
TERRY W. MAYERS, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Mayers, Star City, Ark.; good, Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, Ardmore.
FRED VASQUEZ, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. Atilano Vasquez, Route 3, Box 334d, Kettmann St., San Jose, Calif.; serious, Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, Ardmore.
JAMES J. GORMAN, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick James Gorman, Bellerose, N.Y.; good, Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, Ardmore.
NICHOLAS V. LEONE, JR., 22, son of Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Leone, Toms River, N.J.; critical, Tinker Air Force Base Hospital, Oklahoma City.
EVERETTE HILTS, 20, husband of Mrs. Maud Ella Hilts, Alexandria, La.; critical, Ardmore Memorial.
DAVID THOMAS, 19, brother of Rebecca Duncan, Montgomery, Ala.; critical, Tinker.
JOSEPH H. DEENEY, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. John T. Deeney, Lindenwold, N.J.; critical, Tinker.
TEDDY J. EDWARDS, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. Guy W. Edwards, Gillette, Wyo.; critical, Tinker.
ROSILAO TOGIBAS, 22, husband of Angelita Togibas, San Marcos, Tex.; critical, Tinker.
ROBERT A. DWYER, 23, son of Mr. and Mrs. William F. Dwyer, Glen Cove, N.Y., critical, Tinker.
RALPH D. JOHNSON, 19, critical, Tinker.
PETER SCARAMUZZO, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Angelo Scaramuzzo, Oyster Bay, N.Y.; critical, Tinker.
DENNIS H. HEINS, son of Frederick L. Heins, Riverside, Calif.; no condition, Osteopathic Hospital, Ardmore.

Oakland Tribune California 1966--04-24


I was 7 years old when this

I was 7 years old when this awful crash hapoened, we lived just South ofvthevsitr in Dickson, i remember seeing the fire from our house, my uncle was one that help take bodies to the hospital, they ask anyone that had a station wagon to help, it was a memory I will and never forget, my parents took us up after it was cleaned up so we could understand more about what happened

American Flyers Crash 1966

I stumbled across this site by accident, and I am very glad I did. I have always wondered about the survivors of that crash because my brother, Raymond Johnson, was one of the National Guard troops stationed out of Ardmore, Oklahoma who was sent to the site to help with the rescue/recovery of that crash. I remember him saying how awful it was to witness such carnage. I remember most how he looked after he came home and each time I think about it, tears form in my eyes. My brother died a few years ago, but I am happy to know there are still survivors of that awful crash and wish my brother could know that someone he may have aided is still alive.

My dad was a survivor, still living

My dad I Joe Deeney stated above. He is still living, and never talks about the plane crash unless he's asked questions. He's now 67 years old and still lives in South Jersey. I was just talking about his military experience with him on Saturday, specifically about weapons as I'd just shot a shotgun for the first time this year (it was great). He talked about his sharp-shooter and expert statuses, but never brought up this crash.

American Flyers airplane crash in 1966 - ANTHONY PICA

I was only 5 years old but I remember when this terrible crash happened. My family lived on Oak street in the Brantley Addition on the North side of Ardmore. ANTHONY PICA and his family were our neighbors. I remember my mother upset and spending much time with Tony's wife and family trying to console them. Tony was a nice man and I did not understand until some time later why I never saw him again.

Truly a sad day for many.

12 years later I worked for American Flyers while in high school. Though the company had changed over the years there were pictures and articles I saw that showed the interesting history of the company including this terrible event.

American Flyers is just another part of the history of the Ardmore area that many people have yet to discover.

plane crash 1966 Ardmore Okla.

My father was constable at this time. I remember him saying how horrible this was. People scattered all over the place. I was only 6 years old at this time, but I remember how upset my dad was at this.

Wayne E Beltz

Wayne E Beltz was my Uncle, my Mother's younger brother. His name is spelled wrong on the site. I remember the day we got the news very clearly even though I was only 5. He was a very special person and is very missed. A very sad day for all of us.