PACIFIC PLANE CRASH STORY!
ALL FOUR ENGINES QUIT AT ONE TIME, AIRMAN DISCLOSES
Craft Exploded When It Hit Water...
Honolulu, Dec. 25 (AP) - Navy Comdr. Guy Howard said today
that all four engines stopped at the same time when the big navy radar
plane crashed into the Pacific off Oahu island on Monday. Howard, 41, of
Oakland, Cal., one of four survivors of the crash, told newsmen from his
hospital bed: "She just stopped flying at 1,500 feet. All four
engines stopped at one time. We had two drills, one, a search and
rescue mission, and we had finished that one."
The crew started another drill known as "smoke in the forward baggage compartment" just before the fatal crash. Asked if the plane exploded when it hit the water, Howard replied with a wry smile, "I guess you could say she exploded."
Ships and planes searched rough seas for 17 men still
unaccounted for. An area of more than 3,500 square miles was scanned
by at least three navy destroyers, a coast guard cutter, and several air
Comdr. Frederick E. Woodward, son of Fred E. Woodward, Moline, Ill., was among the missing He was piloting the plane.
Howard suffered head injuries, cuts and a possible skull fracture. He said he was not wearing a lifejacket when the plane hit the water. "Fortunately there was one there when I came up," he said. He said the forward part of the plane was under water when he revived. Lt. (j.g.) John Thomas Kline, 25, of Honolulu, said he was setting the plane's course during the drill by operating it from a radar console at the rear of the craft. "I was the only one in the back part of the plane who got out."
The pilot said he was going down to get below some clouds. I never had a chance to get the radar off before we hit." Kline said his life was saved by Robert O. Clark, an airman from Frankfort, Ind., who is among the missing. "Clark saved my life," Kline said. "He pushed that radar console off of me."
Kline said he saw one of the men, aviation electronics technician 3,c J.C. Rush of Robinson, Ill., go to his death. Rush was the son of William C. Rush of Dubuque, Ia. "He was coming over toward us in the water, than all of a sudden he was face down," Kline said. Rush's body was one of two recovered by search vessels.
Kline said he could not tell from his radar post at the rear of the plane what happened to the engines or the altitude of the plane. "There was no warning," he said. "I was directing the plane by radar and I'd tell the pilot what course to take. I had no chance to tell how close we were to the water." He said fire broke out after the crash. His left foot, pinned by the radar set, was burned. Clark pushed the set off his leg, Kline said. Then he, Clark, Air Controlman 3-c Charles Darwin Price of Seattle, whose body was recovered, and Aviation Technician 3-c Franklin A. Henry, of Kankakee, Ill., another survivor, got outside the sinking plane.
"We were hanging on a mattress," Kline said. "But we lost it and then we teamed up in pairs. I put a lifejacket on - - I didn't have one before I left the plane." Kline said both the plane and fuel-covered surrounding water were aflame. "There was a lot of fire, so I dove right thru into the water and swam under water about 25 feet. There was fire all around me."
Kline's body was a mass of burns and bruises but a spokesman
at Tripler army hospital said he was not considered in serious condition.
His wife visited him at the hospital, Cmdr. Howard's wife and two of this
three children also visited him. Howard said there was always danger during
drills when switches were thrown to simulate a certain emergency, such
as the fire in the forward baggage compartment. Asked if someone
could have switched off the engines, Howard replied: "One thing I
know for sure, no switches were thrown where I was."