Otis Air Force Base – April 9, 1952

Otis Air Force Base – April 9, 1952 

C-47 Aircraft - U.S. Air Force Photo

C-47 Aircraft – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of April 9, 1952, a C-47 transport plane with ten men aboard, took off from Otis Air Force Base in-route to Niagara Falls, New York.  The transport had landed at Otis from Steward AFB in Newburgh, N.Y.  Shortly after take off, while the C-47 was passing over the neighboring Camp Edwards firing range, it was involved in a mid-air collision with an F-94B fighter jet on its way to a gunnery practice mission.  

     The collision occurred in cloud cover between five to seven thousand feet, and officials speculated that poor visibility may have played a role in the crash.  Both planes exploded and flaming debris rained down over a wide area setting several large brush fires.  One parachute was seen but it was found to be empty – likely deployed by the impact.        

F-94 Fighter Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Fighter Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     The dead aboard the C-47 were identified as:

     Lt. Col. William C. Bryson, 34, Stewart AFB. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/180702015/william-curtis-bryson

     Major Benjamin Beckham, 34, Cornwall-On-Hudson, N.Y. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49120236/benjamin-collins-beckham

     Major L. A. Berg, 36, Goshen, N.Y. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49121079/leland-alfred-berg

     Capt. William H. Erwin, 31, Herrin, Ill. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/158171790/william-henry-erwin

     Capt. Lane S. Hendricks, 31, McHenry, Ill. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/99760821/lane-s-hendricks

     Capt. Richard E. Heder, 31, Rock Tavern, N.Y. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/186251135/richard-e-heder

     Capt. Clinton C. Foster, 33, Gardner, N.Y.

     Tech. Sgt. Deane B. Cooper, 41, Stewart AFB. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/96845526/deane-beryl-cooper

     Airman 1c Harry E. Hardesty, 21, Campbell Hall, N.Y. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49197781/harry-eugene-hardesty

     Tech. Sgt. William D. Pollock, 29, Newburgh, N.Y.  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/127196982/william-donald-pollock       

     The crew of the F-94 jet fighter consisted of the pilot, Capt. Charles J. Smoke, 35, of Shenandoah, Iowa, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/125082389/charles-g-smoke

and the radar observer, 1st Lt. Thaddeus C. Kulpinski. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/117905352/thaddeus-chester-kulpinski


Chicago Tribune, “Two Air Force Planes Collide In Air; 12 dead”, April 10, 1952

New York Times, “Planes Crash Aloft; 12 In Air Force Die”, April 10, 1952

Falmouth Enterprise, “Twelve Are Killed In Otis Air Crash”, April 11, 1952

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