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 en-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.

     Major Benjamin Beckham, 34, Cornwall-On-Hudson, N.Y.

     Major L. A. Berg, 36, Goshen, N.Y.

     Capt. William H. Erwin, 31, Herrin, Ill.

     Capt. Lane S. Hendricks, 31, McHenry, Ill.

     Capt. Richard E. Heder, 31, Rock Tavern, N.Y.

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

     Tech. Sgt. Daniel B. Cooper, 41, Stewart AFB.

     Airman 1c Harry E. Hardesty, 21, Campbell Hall, N.Y.

     Tech. Sgt. William D. Pollock, 29, Newburgh, N.Y.         

     The crew of the F-94 jet fighter consisted of the pilot, Capt. Charles J. Smoke, 35, of Shenandoah, Iowa, and the radar observer, 1st Lt. Thaddeus C. 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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