Andover, N.H. – July 22, 1959

Andover, New Hampshire – July 22, 1959

     In the early morning hours of July 22, 1959, two U.S. Air Force KC-97 tanker aircraft from Pease Air Force Base were on a night fueling mission over southern New Hampshire.  Shortly before 2:00 a.m., the two tankers were flying one ahead of the other, preparing to re-fuel a flight of jet aircraft at 15,000 feet, when the left wing of the lead aircraft, (#52-2703), suddenly erupted in flames and started going down.  The burning plane crashed in a hay field in the town of Andover and exploded, killing all seven crewmen aboard. 

     The men were identified as:

     (Pilot) Capt. James H. White.  

     Lt. Harold G. High, of Deluth, Minn. 

     Lt. Dean H. Holzworth, 24, of Worland, Wyoming.

     Sgt. Marion C. Akerman, of Vevay, Indiana.

     Sgt. Owen Q. Combs, 24, of Bloomfield, Indiana.

     Sgt. Jake Schmidt, of Riverton, Wyoming.

     Airman 3c Phillips K. Darst, of Norman, Oklahoma.

     The men were part of the 509th Air Refueling Squadron at Pease AFB.

     The cause of the accident was determined to be the mechanical failure of a turbocharger in the left wing which caused an ignition of fuel lines or fuel cells in the wing.


     (Utah) The Deseret News, “2 West Men Die In Air Tanker Crash”, July 22, 1959

     (Washington) Spokene Daily Chronicle, “7 Men Killed In KC-97 Crash”, July 22, 1959

     (Texas) The Victoria Advocate, “7 Tanker Airmen Die In Fiery Crash”, July 23, 1959 

     Aviation Safety Network


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