Ellington, TX B-45 Bomber Explosion, May 1951

PLANE EXPLODES; 3 DIE.

JET BOMBER'S PILOT BLOWN CLEAR OF WRECK.

Houston, May 8. (AP) -- The pilot of a big jet bomber was freakishly blasted clear last night when the B-45 exploded. Three crewmen were killed.
Hundreds saw the bright flash of the exploding plane. And the burning wreckage as it fell to earth spurred reports of a two-plane collision.
Lt. BOB HAMPTON was not seriously injured when blasted clear. His first thought after catapulting into space was: "I hope it opens."
His parachute did.
Only charred, twisted wreckage scattered over a muddy pasture a few miles southeast of Houston was left of the Barksdale Air Force Base (Shreveport, La.) bomber.
The plane was on a routine flight from Barksdale to Ellington Air Force Base here and return when it exploded near Ellington, 15 miles southeast of here. It had just gone into a turn, ready to start home at 7:10.
The bomber, capable of carrying 53 tons of bombs, was flying at about 1,500 feet when it unaccountably exploded.
It was the second bomber crash in two days. Twenty-three died Sunday when a giant B-35, equipped with auxiliary jet engines, crashed at Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, N.M.
Ellington Air Force Base refused comment on the crash. No cause was advanced.
Three flyers killed were identified as:
First Lt. CLAUDE L. COUK, 23, aircraft commander, Cherryvale, Kan., husband of Mrs. Hildegarde Couk, Shreveport.
Maj. ROBERT CARL REECE, 35, navigator, Phoenix, Ariz., husband of Mrs. Roberta Reece of Bossier City, La.
Maj. JEROME M. RAPPAPORT, 36, navigator, El Cajon, Calif., husband of Mrs. Julia Rappaport, Bossier City, La.

Corpus Christi Times Texas 1951-05-08