Topics - C-47 Crash-landing
Raleigh, North Carolina
January 3, 1953

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On January 3, 1953, a C-47 transport stationed at Donaldson Air Force Base, South Carolina, was on a courier run from Newburgh, New York to Donaldson AFB via Pope Air Force Base, Fayetteville, North Carolina. The aircraft developed engine problem and the pilot tried to make an emergency landing at Crabtree Creek State Park near Raleigh, North Carolina. It ran into dense fog and rain and crashed, killing three crew members.

From the source Findagrave:

Just before midnight on January 2, 1953, an Army C-47 transport plane crashed in Crabtree Park while attempting an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham Airport. The weather was raining with dense fog. Three of the four crew members were killed. The fourth member survived, T-Sgt. Edward Matus, who walked to the airport, arriving at the Eastern Airlines office at 1:00 a.m. He followed the "sounds of airplanes taking off." He was rushed to Duke Hospital. The crash was the first fatal airplane accident "since the airport came under civilian operation in 1946." The plane was flying a "routine training flight" from Stewart Air Force Base, in Newburg, NY, to Donaldson Air Force Base, in Greenville, S.C, with a stop at Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville. They attempted a landing a Pope, but "visibility there was zero." They diverted to Raleigh-Durham, where visibility "was about a one-quarter of a mile." Their last radio contact with Pope was at 10:41 p.m., when the crew reported "icing at 9,000 feet."

Matus remembered being struck and falling to the floor in the plane, then waking up in the wreckage. He followed the sounds of airplanes to the airport. "Bleeding profusely despite a crude tourniquet," the survivor stumbled into the nearly empty office. He was "pale with shock and dazed." He couldn't tell from which direction he had come. He was treated at the hospital for "shock and multiple cuts." Wikipedia Photo The 100-person search party included "police, Civil Air Patrol officials, and Air Force investigators." After hours of searching, Highway Patrol officers were sent to the hospital, to retrieve one of the survivor's shoes. The lawmen also procured bloodhounds from the "Cary prison farm." They attempted, though unsuccessfully, to retrace the survivor's steps. None of the residents of the area reported hearing a plane crash. Six hours after they started, a 25-member search party located the wreckage and the bodies of the pilot, co-pilot, and navigator. The plane had crashed in thick woods, some 1,000 yards from the park's picnic area. The wings were sheared by the trees, and the tail section separated. The area "reeked of high-octane gasoline" but there was no fire, as the pilot had cut power. The plane's gear was down. The wreckage was "less than two miles from the airport's control tower."

The dead airmen were Capt. Louis R. Gossman, pilot, First Lt. Norman W. Joyce, co-pilot, both of Donaldson Air Force Base, and First Lt. Robert W. Shaw, of Pope Air Force Base. The area was subsequently secured, though "crowds of curious persons" had converged on the wreckage earlier, "picking up souvenirs from the broken parts of the plane." Cars also jammed the gate at the park entrance, and caused traffic problems on the highway. The process of moving the wreckage started on January 4. (January 2, 1953)

The Crew


  • Gossman, Capt. Louis Richard (pilot) - See Biography section.
  • Joyce, 1Lt. Norman W. (co-pilot) - See Biography section.
  • Shaw, 1st Lieutenant Robert W. (navigator) -


  • Matus, T/Sgt. Edward


Capt. Louis Richard Gossman

Captain Gossman was born January 07, 1922 of Burr Oak, Iowa.  He was married to Naomi Thomas Street (later Culpepper) (1923-2013).  He was survived by his wife and children, Barbara Gossman (Frailey) and Dr. Richard Gossman.  His siblings were Irene Gossman Hardwick (1913-1995), Clair W. Gossman (1915-2000), Mary Eloise Gossman Grebin (1917-2012), and Gertrude "Trudy" Elizabeth Gossman Ellestad (1919-2017).  Captain Gossman is buried in Magnolia Cemetery, Meridian, Mississippi.

1Lt. Norman W. Joyce

Lieutenant Joyce was born June 25, 1924.  He and his wife Myrtie Joyce were parents of a son Jerry Michael Joyce (1949-1951).  Both are buried in Oakland Cemetery, Waycross, Georgia.

1Lt. Robert W. Shaw

Lieutenant Shaw was the son of Alpheus E. and Amran D. Shaw.  He was born on September 26, 1925 and is buried in Shaw Cemetery, Windsor, Massachusetts. He was a veteran of World War II from Castleton, New York.


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