Report Of Major Accident
Report Number: 45-10-14-3
Location: 3 Miles NW Havana,
Date: 14 October 1945 2100 CT (Estimated)
Aircraft: AT-6C 42-3959
Station: Craig Field, Selma, Alabama
Organization: 29th Flying Training Wing
|P||Wilsey, Edward L.||Capt||Fatal|
|P||Berts, Norman J.||Capt||Fatal|
Description Of The Accident
Overseas returnee arrived in the United States, January 1945
AT-6C S/N 42-3959, pilot Captain Edward L. Wilsey, departed Topeka, Kansas at 1846 October 14, 1945, on a navigational proficiency mission, having been cleared CFR to Little Rock, Arkansas via Coffeyville, Kansas and Ft. Smith, Arkansas. This circuitous route was chosen, evidently, to avoid bad weather connected with a stationary front which was oriented according to the forcast on the Form 23 along a "Wichita-Little Rock line".
Nothing was heard from the aircraft and after inquiries directed to air fields along the proposed route failed to reveal any trace of it, a search was initiated by the Emergency Rescue Service. Wreckage of the aircraft was discovered on the southeast slope of Mt. Magazine on the following day, October 15, by one of the searching planes.
The aircraft had crashed approximately 50 feet below the crest of a 2000 ft (MSL) ridge of the ountain. The aircraft was completely demolished by the impact and, as the bodies of both the pilot and passenger were found in the wreckage, it is probable that they were killed instantly. There was no fire.
Examination of the crash scene showed that the aircraft was traveling in a northwesterly direction at the time of the accident. The point of first contact was apparently a 5" diameter tree approximately 40' below the point at which the aircraft stopped. It is probable that at this point the pilot attempted to pull up because the aircraft traveled upward from this point, through some underbrush and reached the top of the abrupt slope before stopping completely.
The engine was torn from the fuselage and hurled 30 feet beyond the fuselage. The entire wing section was likewise torn from the fuselage. The front cockpit was completely smashed and the fuselage was broken in two parts at a point just behind the rear cockpit.
From the condition of the wreckage, it was impossible to determine the position of the controls, quantity of fuel and oil remaining in the aircraft or find any evidence of engine or materiel (sic) failure.
The ETA of the aircraft at Little
Rock was 2106. Considering the fact that the ceiling at Little Rock
dropped to 800 feet at 2030, that the pilot left his chosen altitude of
3000 feet (as evidenced by the altitude [2000 feet] at which he collided
with the mountain and that the aircraft was on a direct course from Ft.
Smith to Little Rock at the point of the crash), the Investigating Board
is of the opinion that the pilot probably ran into weather near
Mt. Magazine or between that point and Little Rock and was in the process
of returning to Ft. Smith when the crash occurred.
Francis J. Skeffington, Capt,
581st AAFBU, Adams Field, Little Rock, Arkansas