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50-year anniversary of Wichita St plane crash
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IWokeUpLikeThis Offline
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50-year anniversary of Wichita St plane crash
Was a couple weekends ago. Players on the team and family of the survivors met at the site, just a mile off the interstate in Colorado where wreckage still remains 50 years later, to mourn.
https://www.espn.com/college-football/st...-unfolding

Feature from a reporter who's uncle quarterbacked the Shockers and survived the crash.
http://kmuw.net/feature/the-pieces-that-...index.html

Professional analysis of the crash. Pilot wanted to showboat the mountains and flew into a box canyon impossible to get out of -- left or right would hit the mountains -- up was roughly 2,000 feet of the Continental Divide.
https://medium.com/@admiralcloudberg/the...064147c664

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Heading west under visual flight rules with no filed flight plan, “Gold” started to follow US Highway 6 (now Interstate 70) into the mountains, while “Black” followed the previously arranged route via Laramie. After crossing over the foothills, “Gold” intercepted the Clear Creek Valley and began to follow it steadily upward toward the continental divide. Skipper maintained a constant height of about 1,500 feet above ground level, and the passengers crowded around the windows to enjoy the incredible close-up view of the mountains. As the plane passed over the town of Idaho Springs, witnesses on the ground were caught off guard by its low altitude, and some concluded that it must be in trouble. But on board, all was merry as the players marveled at the spectacular scenery and the flight attendants served refreshments. Amid the party atmosphere on board the plane, little thought was given to whether they might be in danger.

As the plane climbed sedately up the Clear Creek Valley, following highway 6, the valley grew deeper, and soon they were flying below the surrounding mountaintops. Although the plane could have climbed faster, the pilots seemed to be unconcerned. Some of the players, however, were beginning to get nervous. 22-year-old football player Richard Spencer recalled looking out the window and being greeted by the unnerving sight of mines and roads on the mountainsides above the plane. As they climbed past the town of Silver Plume, elevation 9,120 feet, Spencer got up to go to the cockpit and ask the pilots what was going on. Standing in the cockpit door, he found them discussing the heights of the surrounding peaks, many of which stood at well over 13,000 feet (4000m) — 2,000 feet more than the height of the plane.
Apparently unknown to the pilots, Clear Creek Valley terminated just a few kilometers ahead at the base of Loveland Pass, the low point of which stood at a lofty elevation of 11,990 feet. Obscuring their view of this obstruction was the 13,234-foot Mount Sniktau, which protruded out from the continental divide and forced the valley to curve sharply around its base before reaching the pass. Skipper and Crocker had no idea that at the overloaded 4–0–4’s maximum achievable rate of climb, the last point at which they could take action to clear Loveland Pass was at Dry Gulch, a couple kilometers short of the bend. Therefore, by the time the pass became visible, it would already be too late to climb over it. On the ground, a former pilot familiar with the valley caught sight of the plane and concluded that it wasn’t going to make it.

Cruising along at 11,000 feet, the plane flew past Dry Gulch and approached the bend toward the pass. Unknown to anyone on board, a crash was already inevitable: they had passed the point of no return, and there was no longer enough room to climb out or to turn around. They were boxed in.
Upon rounding the bend, Skipper and Crocker suddenly realized that the valley came to a precipitous end, rising rapidly to Loveland Pass 1,000 feet above them and only two miles out. On highway 6, motorists pulled over and stared at the plane in alarm. Skipper turned to the right in a desperate attempt to turn around, but found himself flying straight at the looming face of Mount Trelease. Fearing that they were about to crash, Richard Spencer ducked out of the doorway and threw himself into the baggage compartment behind the cockpit. Captain Crocker called out, “I have control!” and wrenched the control column back to the left. Banking to nearly sixty degrees in a desperate effort to make a U-turn, he pushed the plane to its limit, flying so close to the stall speed that he triggered pre-stall buffet, rocking the plane with heavy vibrations. A flight attendant was thrown aside with a scream and the passengers scrambled to get into their seats. The extreme turn caused the plane to slow down and lose lift, and the mountainside rapidly rose up to meet them. Crocker reduced the left bank to 30 degrees, but it was too late; a split second later, the plane struck the treetops part way up Mount Trelease at an elevation of 10,800 feet. The plane sliced off the top of the pine trees as it cleaved its way across the wooded slope, digging into the forest as the passengers held on for dear life. Trees sheared off the wings as the fuselage slammed to the ground and broke into three pieces, sliding to a stop amid the ruined forest, surrounded by fire.

On board the plane, most of the passengers had survived the relatively low-speed impact. But hardly anyone had time to fasten their seat belts before the crash, and people were thrown against the rows in front of them with such force that the seats dislodged from the floor and piled toward the front of the plane in a massive heap of metal bars, shredded upholstery, and broken limbs. Further forward, Captain Crocker had been killed instantly when a tree sliced through his seat, but First Officer Skipper survived with half the cockpit torn away around him. Richard Spencer awoke seconds after the crash to find that he had been flung out of the baggage compartment and onto the slope below the plane, well away from the fuselage and the fire. Some of those in the passenger cabin managed to claw their way out of the wreckage within moments of the crash, but most were trapped in the twisted fuselage, piled on top of each other and suffering from serious injuries. People cried out for help as others struggled to pull them out. Some of those who escaped were soaked in aviation fuel and promptly caught fire after stepping out of the plane.

Several people who had witnessed the crash climbed up the mountainside to the crash site and arrived just a few minutes after impact, where they discovered numerous survivors trapped inside the plane with a raging fire threatening to overrun the cabin. But before they could launch a rescue effort, the airplane exploded, forcing the rescuers to retreat and incinerating anyone left inside. By the time rescuers had rounded up all the badly injured survivors, it was clear that most people never made it out: of the 40 people on board, only 11 had survived, including Richard Spencer and First Officer Skipper. Of these, two soon died in hospital, bringing the final death toll to 31, a figure which included 14 football players, the head coach, Captain Crocker, the WSU athletics director, and Kansas State Senator Raymond King and his wife.
10-12-2020 03:00 PM
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IWokeUpLikeThis Offline
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Post: #2
RE: 50-year anniversary of Wichita St plane crash
The pilot, incredibly, was allowed to fly again just 1 year later and flew around the world for 20+ years. A google search shows he never took responsibility for the accident and said he's never lost a night of sleep over it.

Here's his obituary. You'll find someone in 2018 left a pic captioned "Ronnie's 1970 plane crash that killed 31". Wonder who that was.
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/4830...pper/photo
10-12-2020 03:05 PM
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eltigre Offline
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Post: #3
RE: 50-year anniversary of Wichita St plane crash
I was at the Memphis game that year.
10-12-2020 03:23 PM
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