Saturday, December 06, 2014

Daily Missoulian story on 1943 fatal air collision above Missoula

The Daily Missoulian

Saturday, September 10, 1943


Four persons – two instructor pilots and two aviation student pilots – were killed Friday morning in a mid-air crash of planes of the Johnson Flying school while on routine flying maneuvers.

The dead:





Both of the instructors have lived here for years. The student pilots were members of the 317th college training detachment of the Army air forces stationed at Montana State University. The accident was the first in the training of students by the Johnson school, and the first in the history of the Johnson Flying service.

Wreckage of the two planes was spotted from the air by Instructor Pilot Warren Ellison, who was making a routine flight, and fixed the time of the collision at about 7:30 o’clock. He had been over the flight course a few moments earlier and had detected no sign of the accident then.

The crash occurred over the old Buckhouse ranch, north of the old Bitter Root road. One plane hitting the ground in a weed patch on the Buckhouse ranch and the other crashing across the road into a wheat field on the Dan Maloney ranch. Both planes were badly smashed but no fire resulted.

The bodies of the victims were removed from the ships and those of the students were taken to the Lucy mortuary, that of Mrs. Reynolds to Powell & Johnson and that of Mr. Hillman to Stucky’s.

CAA officials would make no official statement as to the cause of the crash, or give details in regard to the flight, stating merely that an investigation would be made and a report given when it was completed.

Major George E. Heikes, commanding officer of the Army air force college training detachment at the State University, had little comment to make, stating that it was a military matter and that information would be released as soon as possible.

Stanley Hillman’s father, W.P. Hillman, of the office of operation of the Forest Service at Missoula, was in Kalispell on an inspection trip when notified of his son’s death. He left immediately for home, in company with J.E. Ryan, assistant regional forester, and arrived here shortly after noon.

Stanley Hillman

Stanley Hillman was born in Spokane September 29, 1921, and would have been 22 years old had he lived three weeks more. He resided with his parents at Sandpoint, Missoula, St. Maries, Idaho, and again at Missoula, his father being an official of the Forest Service. He attended grade schools here for a part of his elementary education and also attended Missoula county high school, from which he was graduated in June, 1939.

After receiving his high school diploma, he entered the Anderson Trade school at Los Angeles, and from there went to work in the Douglas Aircraft plant at Los Angeles. Then he went into the glider service of the United States army air corps and continued in that work at various fields, including Albuquerque, until this branch was curtailed, when he was given an honorable discharge. He became an instructor at the Missoula airfield last April. He remained in the Air Corps Reserves, after being discharged as a sergeant.

He is survived by his parents, a brother, Robert, who is in California, and a sister, Mary, at the family home, 230 Brooks street.

Clyde Reynolds

Clyde Reynolds, a veteran of the First World war, had been a flying instructor since early spring, when he gave up his duties at The New Mint, where he had been employed by Orin Dishman for almost twenty years, the latter said. Reynolds had worked the night shift at that business establishment while perfecting himself in flying during the daytime.

Born in 1900 in Oklahoma, Reynolds came to the Bitter Root with his parents, who still maintain the family home at Darby. He served in both the Navy and the Army, and was severely wounded in an explosion during the First World war. Afterward he was a patient at a veterans’ hospital for an extended period while his injuries were healing. For a long time he was required to wear knee braces. After recovering, he came to Missoula to work for the Hart Refinery for a while, then went to The New Mint.

He was married, residing with his wife on Sussex avenue. Besides his parents there are two brothers, Raymond of Missoula and Claude of Enumclaw, Wash., and three sisters, Mrs. Chris Boding and Mrs. John Barthlu of Missoula and Mrs. Campbell of Bremerton.

Student Records

Student Pilot Richards was born in 1923 at Tarrytown, N.Y., where his mother, Mrs. Margaret Richards now resides. He has two brothers in military service, one in the Army and one in the Navy. Officers at the training center state that he was an excellent soldier and had but one desire, that of becoming a top pursuit pilot.

Student Pilot Schwenter was born in 1916 at Detroit, Mich., and is married to SPAR Leora Jane Schwenter, who is stationed at New London, Conn. Like Richards, Schwenter was considered a top soldier and his great desire was to become a bomber pilot. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Schwenter, reside in Detroit.

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