Friday, October 23, 2015

The day the jet plane crashed

An F-86 Fighter of the 1950s
A crisp wind blew across the East Fork of the Whitewater River on a drab and rainy day on January 14, 1953.

Let's allow the Brookville American to tell us the rest:

U.S. Air Force
F-86 Jet Plane
Crash Lands

On Alden Naylor Farm
Wednesday Afternoon
About 3:00 P.M.

A crash-landing F-86 jet plane of the U.S. Air Force, came to a stop on the front porch of the home of Mr. and Mrs. Alden Naylor of near Fairfield, about 3:00 P.M. on Wednesday afternoon of this week.

The plane, piloted by Lt. Clement Bittner of the 94th Fighter Squadron of George Air Force Base in California, was one of four planes en route from Scott Air Force Base, St. Louis, to Wright-Patterson Field at Dayton, Ohio.

The other three planes crash-landed at Mt. Healthy Airport near Cincinnati. None of the pilots were injured seriously in the landings.

A helicopter, which was piloted by Captain Noll, accompanied by a flight surgeon, picked up Lt. Bittner and started for Dayton when mechanical trouble developed with their chopper and a forced landing was made on a farm about three miles south of Liberty.

The planes ran into murky weather and were unable to land at Dayton. They then tried to make it to Lunken Airport at Cincinnati but ran out of fuel en route.

Lt. Bittner estimated his plane was traveling 170 miles per hour as it crossed the road in front of the Naylor residence.

Lt. Bittner, 26, is married and the father of a 2-year-old daughter. The wife and daughter live in San Francisco.

*   *   *

It appeared to be a bad day all around for the Air Force.

The plane did minimal damage to the Naylor front porch and there's no expanded report on what happened to the downed helicopter.

Much of this sort of news was reported on a need-to-know basis for the public, though it did get regional coverage in the Cincinnati press. One can assume that an inquiry of sorts followed the drama, which clearly could have been much more serious.

How four jet fighter planes could all run out of fuel is somewhat bizarre but perhaps points to the nature of how the Air Force was managed. The objective was Dayton; Plan B was apparently not part of the agenda.

The plane came down across the road through the Dimmitt Butcher farm. Since it was January, no damage was done to any crops. And, no ... there were no petunias on the porch.


Is it possible that his squadron flying over Fairfield was this unit?
Bittner was killed in a squadron accident in Greenland in June 1953.



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