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Plane Crash - March 12, 1960

Pulaski County, Arkansas

Nose of plane found in Allsopp Park

3 Of 4 Crewmen, 2 Civilians Dead;
Lieutenant Parachutes to Safety

By Bill Lewis and Patrick J. Owens of the Gazette Staff

A B-47 Stratojet bomber exploded at low level over Little Rock about 6:06
a.m. yesterday, 13 minutes after takeoff from Little Rock Air Force Base,
raining death and destruction on two separated residential areas.

Three of the four crew members were killed and two civilians were killed
in their homes. One crewman parachuted to safety.

The civilians were Mrs. Andrew L. Clark, 62, who was alone in her home at
211 Colonial Court, where a major portion of the plane fell, and James
LaRoy Hollabaugh, 29,adopted son of Mrs. Agnes Nilsson Grove of 1920
Maryland Avenue. Both of those houses were destroyed by fire but Mrs.
Grove escaped with burns on her feet and abrasions on her legs.

The dead Air Force men were Capt. Herbert Aldridge, 37, aircraft
commander; Lt. Col. Reynolds S. Watson, 43, navigator, and S-sgt, Kenneth
E. Brose, 25.

The survivors list was 1st Lt. Thomas G. Smoak, 26, c0-pilot. He was
admitted to the Arkansas Baptist Hospital with burns and other injuries
and placed under heavy sedation. He was reported in "good" condition.

The bodies of the three crewmen were found in the vicinity of the Clark
home, one in the wreckage of the plane which hit the rear of the house,
another in the driveway beside the house, and the third lying about a
block away and on the west (opposite) side of the street in a corner of
of a playing field of Pulaski Heights Junior High School.

Lands in Tree
Smoak came to rest entangled in a tree behind the house at 509 Midland
Street. He spoke rationally to rescuers who had watched his parachute
fall but was in a severe shock. He received emergency treatment on the
spot from physician who lived in the neighborhood and was taken to
Arkansas Baptist Hospital. His wife is a nurse at Arkansas Children's
Hospital, two blocks from the Maryland - Summit crash scene.

The scene of the heaviest destruction to property was at the intersection
of Maryland and Summit Avenues. Two homes, that of Mrs. Marie Milligan
at 824 Summit and that of Mrs. Grove, and an apartment building of three
units on the southeast corner were destroyed by fire.

The homes of Mrs. J.H. Creesinger at 1918 Maryland, F. Nolan Humphrey of
1917 Maryland, R.H. Martin at 1915 Maryland, Marion E. Parker at 900
Summit, J.B. Peters at 816 Summit, the residence immediately behind First
Church of the Nazarene at Battery Street and Maryland Avenue and the
church itself all suffered heavy damage, the Church's mainly broken
stained glass windows and plaster breakage.

A two-story residence on Battery Street just north of the Church was
heavily damaged by fire and other buildings, including the Arkansas
Children's Hospital, a Safeway store in the Battery street shopping
district and Stacy's Grocery at West Seventh and Battery all had windows

Looting of the groceries was reported within minutes after the crash and
police put guards at the scene.

Carried No Bombs
Bits and pieces of wreckage from the aircraft which Air Force officials
said carried no bombs or ammunition were found over a wide area from the
Little Rock Country Club to the Riverside Elementary School at 1406 East
Washington Avenue, North Little Rock, where a microphone was found by
some children. The police said it was turned over to the Air Force. The
school is 14 blocks east of Main Street, North Little Rock.

A piece of debris two feet square from the plane also was found in the
top of a tree at the southwest corner of Third and Arch Streets. Little
Rock Firemen used an aerial ladder to retrieve it.

A pod containing two engines screaming as it hurled through the air,
landed on the sidewalk of Mrs. Tom Ed Scott of 314 Ridgeway Street and
imbedded itself about a foot deep. Magnesium used in the metal caught
fire and burned for about three hours.

Another engine, one of six on the bomber, landed a block away in the
backyard of the home of Jack J. Davis of 349 Crystal Court, missing
Davis' garage by a few feet. On its way down, it broke limbs from a tree
and they crashed onto a car owned by Davis' son, Jack D. Davis, damaging
the roof and the breaking the rear windshield. That engine also was
afire but Davis senior extinguished it with a fire extinguisher from his

About four blocks to the north, two more engines fell alongside Hill
Road, near Ridgeway Street.

Automobile owned by George Waleszonia at 1923 Maryland 

Mrs. Tom Ed Scott's yard at 314 Ridgeway

Debris Hits School Area
What was believed to be the nose of the plane fell on the west wall of
the Allsopp Park canyon and other debris was scattered through the Park.
On the east side of Lookout Street was found a piece of headgear and
other scraps from the aircraft.

A pilot ejector seat and a burning, partially opened parachute were in
the playground of the Pulaski Heights School. A briefcase from the plane
was spotted atop the school. Maps, papers and charts were scattered over
a wide area.

Strips of tinfoil, reportedly used by the Air Force to counteract
detection by radar, were draped in profusion on trees, shrubs, and houses
at Maryland and Summit, giving the blackened broken area a weird
Christmas-time look

Reports persisted that two airplanes had been involved in a mid-air
collision but the control tower at Adams Field said there was no evidence
that a second plane was involved. As a precaution, the Civil Air Patrol
sent search planes between Little Rock and Conway.

Many witnesses insisted that they saw two planes but others said the
wings separated from the fuselade after the explosion, which may have led
to the two-plane confusion.

Neither the Air Force Base, Base Officials at the scene nor the
control tower at Adams Field could say with certainty which direction the
plane was headed when the explosion occurred. The Base Information
Services Office reported that plane had reached a 3,900-foot altitude and
said that when the explosion occurred, parts of the plane went "almost
straight down."

The plane had taken off on a routine training flight half an hour after
the sun came up, there wasn't a cloud in the clear blue sky.

Lt. Col. R.S. Watson

Hellish, Bubbling Crater Marks Disaster Scene Bordered by 2 Avenues.

In the neighborhood of Summit and Maryland Avenues the destruction
radiated out from a crater 6 1/2 feet deep and about 35 feet in diameter
just north of the intersection.

The crater burned for hours after yesterday morning's B-47 crash. Then
it stood half full of water and some petroleum substance for hours more.
In it were 30 or 40 pieces of the crashed plane in a great variety of
sizes and shapes.

Both a natural gas line and a two-inch water main were in the crater.
The water pipe was picked up, broken, and flipped out along with the
clayish mud.

Natural gas apparently joined with the magnesium and other flammable
metals in the crater to burn in a bubbling, steaming, inferno which
resisted early efforts of firemen.

The house in which James A. Hollabaugh died was across Summit Avenue from
the big hole.

One theory was that the white hot metals and jet fuel had spewed together
across the neighborhood.

At any rate, the house where Hollobaugh slept in the attic burned very
quickly. Firemen found his body about two hours after the crash. There
was little left of the house by then.

The neighborhood found it hard to believe that only one person had been

Firemen and policemen poked about in the ruins through the day and
checked carefully to learn who had been in the houses and who had been
seen alive after the crash.

'Miraculous Escape"
J.B. Peters of 316 Summit Avenue didn't understand how Mrs. Agnes Grove
had got out of her house alive. Hollobaugh was with her nephew and lived
in her house at 1918 Maryland Avenue. Peters lives across the street at
816 Summit Avenue. The big crater was mostly in his yard.

He said he was waking up when the crash came. It knocked him out of bed.
"I thought it was a sonic boom, too," he said, in agreement with another
opinion, "but then I realized I was already on the floor."

His wife, who thought she might be hearing a clap of thunder, stayed in
bed until they saw flames around them, then rushed out the back door.
Outside they saw the Groves house on fire.

"I don't see how she ever got out. It looked like it was burning from
every angle. There were flames everywhere," Peters said.

Peters spent part of his boyhood in his house, which was partly destroyed
by the fire. He is 59 and the distributor for a battery chemical. His
brother R.S. Peters, County Clerk.

He said his father had built the house in 1914. He and his wife moved
back into it six years ago.

Earth Through Walls
The explosion in the crater threw a chunk of earth about two feet square
through the wall of Peter's house. Some parts of the aircraft came with

Lt. Thomas G. Smoak - Lone Survivor

Home of Mrs. Andrew Clark - 211 Colonial Court

March 12, 1960
Three houses were destroyed and eight buildings were damaged near the
Maryland Avenue-Summit Avenue intersection. A large piece of wreckage
from the exploded B-47 blasted the big crater visible in the right

Two Airmen Found Dead Within Block of Home Where Fire Took Life
The Andrew L. Clark home at 211 Colonial Court was attractive, moderately
new house in a better-than-average residential area of the city, until
6:10 a.m. yesterday.

The section of the falling B-47 Stratojet bomber that struck the rear of
the home converted it into an inferno that brought what is believed to
have been instant death to Mrs. Clark, who was alone, and the crewmember
whose body was found in the wreckage.

The impact knocked down brick veneer on the front of the house and the
rear was a shambles, with steaming, twisted pieces of wreckage covering
much of the backyard.

The body of one of the fliers lay on the driveway inside the house and
across the street and north a block lay the third crew member, a
grotesque form on a school athletic field. Beyond this, part of an
ejection seat and a piece of partly-burned, partly opened parachute.

Briefcase Found
Atop the Pulaski Heights School to the west across the playing field was
found a briefcase of one of the men. Papers were scattered in the area.

Youngsters, to whom the tragedy was more an adventure, plucked souvenirs
from the body of one of the airmen before someone covered it with a

On Crystal Court, a long block north, a jet engine from the plane thudded
into the back yard of the home of Jack J. Davis, 349 Crystal Court,
barely missing a garage.

Davis was having a bath in a bathroom in the rear of his home.

"I thought I was going to die," he said. He donned pajamas, went outside
and with an extinguisher from the garage put out the fire on the engine.
On its way down, the engine knocked off some branches of a tree, which
fell on a car owned by Davis' son Jack K. Davis. It was damaged but did
not burn.

Mrs. Davis thought it was a tornado.

"Lets get on the floor! Let's get on the floor!" she shouted, as the
scream of the falling enging was heard. There probably wouldn't have
been time, even for that.

"We're fortunate, thank God," she said afterward.

Engine Hits Walk
Another engine fell into the front yard of Mrs. Tom Ed Scott of 314
Ridgeway, who was with her son, Tom Ed Jr. was home at the time. It hit
the sidewalk and partly buried itself in a walkway leading to the front
door of the this.

Captain Herbert Aldridgea

Boeing aircraft experts on the scene.

Location List