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Old 27th June 2017, 11:07
paulmcmillan paulmcmillan is offline
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Re: US Navy Parachute Incident "26th" Sept 1929

More info on the cause and location of incident and also Bakers' previous incident

Daily Press
Newport News,
Friday September 27, 1929
Page 12
Fliers Leap from Falling Plane Above Camp Stuart
Links Crash of Navy Observation Craft into Hampton Roads
Swells Membership of Caterpillar Club
Occupants Land Safely from 4,000-Foot Height
Loosened Motor Throws Ship on Night Formation Flight
Throws Out of Control
Whirled though space on parachutes
When the motor from the plane departed its moorings and fell overboard Lieutenant James W, Baker and Aviation Mechanics’ Mate J F Bencke of Hampton Roads Naval Base Norfolk, last night joined the Caterpillar Club by landing safely on the golf links of Camp Stuart after dropping from the dizzy height of almost a mile. Unruffled and unperturbed by narrow escape from death the fliers nonchalantly sought out a telephone and reported the incident to the Naval Base, then proceeded to the ferry slip and took a boat for Norfolk. The machine which was out of control when the birdmen took to their chutes, careened crazily in mid-air during its wild flight earth wood, rolled and dived looped, finally crashing of the Hampton Roads detonating roar heard for blocks around, Then it caught on fire Then near-tragedy occurred at7 o'clock last night. Both men escaped unscathed. In some manner yet undetermined the engine a 450 horsepower radial loosened from its base and fell out. Within a few moments apparently sensing that their only salvation lay in their parachutes leaped out into the blackness far above Camp Stuart. It was the first parachute leap for both fliers and thus the Caterpillar club was swelled by two.
Plane is Destroyed
The plane was destroyed. It fell about 60 feet from the shore of the golf course in about two feet of water and the gasoline tanks caught fire when it struck, The motor, badly damaged and with the propeller struck in a few inches of water near the shore. The plane, of about 34 wing spread and a Vaught (sic) land machine, was on night flight formation over Norfolk News with others of the air station observation planes The other two ships proceeded to air station A flare was dropped by the other planes at a height of 4,000 feet when it was found that the crippled ship was out of control, the light which was seen over most of the city. Mr J. T. Murphy an East End resident, having just observed the planes pass overhead saw the flare moments later and suspected hat a crash had occurred. He drove the golf course and found the fliers walking along the roadway. Mr Murphy took them in his car to the nearest telephone in a confectionery store at Twenty-fifth street and Wickham avenue where Lieutenant Baker reported to the air station.
Leave City on Ferry
Mr. Murphy then took the fliers to the boat harbor, where they were left on a ferry within a few minutes The plane was a complete "washout". A tangled mass of broken and charred wreckage, it was at once the objective of a small crowd of boys began stripping wing fabric and other fragments as souvenirs. The engine was broken in the fall. One blade of the metal propeller was broken off and the other badly bent Officers of the air station dispatched a boat to the scene of the crash as soon as informed of it to salvage the engine. They said that they did not care about the plane itself but that they hoped to save something of value from the motor. A guard was placed over the wreckage at about 10' o'clock by bluejackets from the Naval Base. Officers at the base had previously asked police headquarters here to place a guard until relieved by a naval squad. An investigation is to be made of the cause of the accident, they explained and they feared that souvenir hunters would destroy any evidence that might leads to an explanation of the cause.

A follow up article the day after revealed that they were appealing for part of the propeller and provided more info on Baker’s previous accident

Sept 28 Page 2

Naval Air Base Seeks Part of Fallen Plane

Officers from the Hampton Roads air base, here yesterday to collect the fragments of the plane
which crashed at Camp Stuart Thursday night in order present them to the board of inquiry which is to be held "within the next
24 hours. one of them stated, have in an appeal for the return of a portion of the metal propeller of the plane was removed by a souvenir hunter, it is beloved and have no other value as junk the authorities are concerned except that it may offer a valuable clue to what caused the crash.

The holder of the part has been asked by the base officers to either to leave it with newspapers or to advise its whereabouts so the authorities may send for it. The officers made it plain that they are not interested in learning the name of the holder of this plane. It is believed that the person who removed it would return it gladly when he learned of its importance to the investigation
to be made.
Relics of the plane were sent to the base yesterday with the exception of such portions that were not desired investigation.
The accident was Lieutenant Baker second close call with possible death. He was in a plane at Morehead City, N C two months ago which crashed into the bay there, turning over and pinning him underwater for nearly five minutes before he was rescued by a
coast guardsman who dived from the cutter Pamlico. He remained in hospital there
for several days before he returned to the Hampton Roads air station in an ambulance plane.
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