Saturday, MARCH 22, 1958
McClellan Plane Crash Lands,
Burns In North Area, 18 Escape
Radar Craft Nearly Hits Homes
An air force Super Constellation flying radar station with 18 men aboard crash landed and burned today in a field fivemiles north of McClellan Air Force Base.
Officials at the base, where the plane was assigned, said all the survived. Two were hurt. Justus Wyman, McClellan information officer, said the RC121, attached to the 522nd Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadron, took off on a regular patrol mission at 11:14AM. The crash occurred at 11:20.
Chief Gene Desimone of the Citrus Heights Fire Department said he and his firemen (helped rescue one of the injured crewmen. Wyman said the plane reported trouble as it was over the Larchmont Village subdivision northeast of McClellan. The pilot, Captain Edwin V. Ferry of 3301 Arbor Way North Sacramento turned sharply to west, to avoid the residential section.
Ferry said his aircraft developed a fire in one engine on takeoff.
McClellan officials credited the pilot with alert action which averted a possible disaster had the plane crashed in a residential area.
Roads Are Jammed
The cash set off an immediate dash of curiosity seekers to the scene and all roads leading to the area were jammed with traffic.
The jam prevented rescue vehicles and fire trucks reaching the blazing aircraft and McClellan officials asked radio stations to broadcast an immediate appeal for all sightseers seers to clear the area and stay doff the roads.
Fire and rescue equipment from Sacramento was alerted anddisaster and rescue equipment was ordered to stand by.
Thick mud in the field where the plane went down also prevented fire and rescue equipment from getting to the scene.
Several eyewitnesses said, they saw an explosion aboard the plane before it went down. Others said it caught fire immediately after it hit the ground.
o McClellan officials pointed o out the plane has radar domes r on its top and under its belly. It was one of a type which the 522nd AEW&C Squadron uses to make 24 hour a day It radar picket patrols over the Pacific Ocean to warn of possible enemy air attacks.
Witnesses Sensed Low Flying Aircraft
Was In Trouble, Saw Pilot-Struggle
Witnesses in the Grant line Road area where a McClellan Air Force based flying radar station crashed today said the plane was in trouble and narrowly missed hitting homes as it attempted to approach the field.
"I was standing in the yard of my home," said Forrest Snyder of 5961 North Haven Drive, "when I saw the craft approaching with one of its motors dead. It was in real trouble.
"I could see the pilot desperately jockeying to keep his craft from crashing into the houses on our block. "By some miracle he kept his plane high enough and it just cleared by inches the television antennas on our block.
Sees Fire, Smoke
"Then it disappeared and a few seconds later we saw the fire and smoke from the explosion. "If ever anyone deserved a medal it was that pilot."
I saw it in the air." Said Mrs. Cecil E. Dye, wife of the North Highlands Fire Department chief. "It was flying low and looked like it was in trouble.
I can see the smoke from here (approximately 15 minutes after the crash). It is due north of the North Highlands station. We rolled out two trucks, but one has returned. We are calling out all the ambulances."
More Praise For Pilot
Mrs. Verne Moddison of 6650 Watt Avenue echoed the praise of the pilot. "The pilot deserves a lot of credit for fighting the plane over the roof tops and into an open field." she declared.
Mrs. Blanche Harder of 2944 Grant Line Road said her sons Dale. 12, and Dean, 10, heard the plane and saw it go down. "It made a loud popping noise before it hit the ground." the boys told her. "It started burning right away."
"The ambulances," Mrs. Harder said. "are getting through along with the fire trucks although the traffic jam them a lot."
Submitted by Arnold Hooper