Topics - Douglas DC-4 Crash
Near Sandspit, BC, Canada - January 19, 1952
and SB-17G Search & Rescue Plane

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Flight 324, was a flight from Tokyo, Japan, to McChord AFB, via Shemya and Anchorage. It departed Elmendorf AFB at 21:11 on January 19, 1952 for the IFR flight to McChord AFB. The flight climbed to the 10,000-foot assigned altitude and at 22:13, shortly after passing Middleton Island, requested permission to descend to 8,000 feet. ARTC cleared the flight to descend and the new cruising altitude was reached at 22:22. The trip was uneventful until opposite Sitka, Alaska, when the pilot reported, at 00:03, that no. 1 propeller had been feathered. The prop had been feathered due to a "broken" oil cooler and the pilot decided to divert to Sandspit. The flight was cleared to that point and proceeded without further incident on three engines. The aircraft touched down at a point about one-third down the runway. After a short roll, power was applied at about the mid-point of the strip and the aircraft took off, barely clearing a low fence and driftwood which was approximately two feet high at the end of the runway. The aircraft, at near stalling speed during the attempted climb-out, settled into the water, bounced, and came to rest 26 degrees to the left and approximately 4,500 feet from the end of the runway. All or nearly all of the passengers evacuated the aircraft, with no known serious injuries. However, air and water temperatures were near freezing; drowning and exposure accounted for 36 fatalities.  (There were 40 passengers and three crew members.  Of the 43, only seven survived.)

To add information to this page or request corrections, contact Lynnita Brown, 111 E. Houghton St., Tuscola, IL 61953; ph. 217-253-4620; e-mail

Table of Contents

  • Fatalities - Crew of DC-4
  • Fatalities - Passengers of DC-4
  • B-17 Rescue Plane Crash
  • Fatalities/Survivors - B-17 Crash

Fatalities - Crew of DC-4

  • Cheadle, Jane - stewardess (Seattle, Washington) - Born in 1927 in Montana, she was the daughter of Edwin K. Cheadle (1895-1980) and Anna Ruth Moore Cheadle (1899-1995).  Jane is buried in Great Falls, Montana.
  • Kuhn, Kenneth - co-pilot (Seattle, Washington)
  • Pfaffinger, John J. - pilot (Kent, Washington)  His wife was four months pregnant with their second child when the crash occurred.  Daughter Linda Pfaffinger was born five months later. Linda had a six-month old brother.

Fatalities - Passengers on DC-4 (incomplete list - only 3 out of 33)

  1. Elness, Loren Dale - Age 27,  he was returning home because of his 2 1/2 year old son's serious medical condition. A second son was born shortly after he left for Japan, and he never had an opportunity to see that son.  Loren was the son of Emmett (1901-1931) and Anne A. Hall Elness (1904-2003).  He had sisters Ihlene (Luvern) Stockel of Dubuque, Iowa, and Ruth Ann Lord, Carpentersville, Illinois.  His stepfather was Ralph Noe (1903-1982).  Anne Elness married Ralph in 1937.  The family was from the Dubuque, Iowa area.
  2. Raymond, Sgt. Russell A. - Sergeant Raymond was on his way home to attend his mother's funeral.
  3. Shankman, 1Lt. Stanley Paul - The following narrative was found on the West Point website:

    "Stanley Paul Shankman, born in Brooklyn, NY, loved his hometown and all the great activities available to a growing boy in the metropolitan area. Stan and his brother, Herb, enjoyed a secure and happy childhood, adored by loving parents and encouraged in all their endeavors.

    During his youth, Stan developed a love for baseball, with the Brooklyn Dodgers as his favorite team. He once concluded that a particular Dodger pitcher was the best in baseball, although, on the day the pitcher was suddenly traded, Stan commented, "He never could pitch, anyway." Stan’s loyalty was to the team.

    Stan was an excellent student. He took academics in stride and graduated from Brooklyns Midwood High School in 1943 at age 16. As a high school student during WWII, Stan followed the war closely and deeply admired our armed forces. Those global national challenges throughout Stan’s formative years influenced his decision to join the military

    Following graduation from high school, Stan attended New York University for two years. During that time, his parents enjoyed the company of friends who had a son, Edwin Marks ’49, at West Point. Those proud parents and Edwin had a positive impact upon Stan, and it cemented his desire to attend West Point.

    In June 1945 Stan joined the Coast Guard with the intent of pursuing his ambition to become a cadet. Four months later, he transferred to the Army and quickly earned admission to the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School at Amherst, MA. He attended the school from November 1945 until March 1946 and worked hard during this time to obtain an appointment from the 11th Congressional District of New York.

    In March 1946, Stan took his physical and written entrance examinations for West Point. His successful completion of those challenging tests was a source of great joy for him. Stan reported to the Academy on 1 Jul 1946, a proud member of the Class of ’50.

    Stan adapted well to the rigor and discipline of Academy life and never seemed unduly stressed. He was particularly good at languages and studied German. He often studied it out loud, thereby exposing his unwilling roommates to the language. Years later, one of his roommates reported that, while stationed in Europe, he could easily regale German listeners with German poems without having the slightest idea what he was saying.

    Stan was an excellent handball player. He preferred to keep this fact to himself, allowing his opponents to find out about his skills on the courts. He was a gracious winner and an accomplished post-game kibitzer. He was a fun competitor.

    His classmates also remember Stan as fastidious with his personal hygiene. After shaving at the hallway sink each morning, he always applied a generous amount of Yardley Shave Lotion, nearly asphyxiating fellow cadets in the vicinity. He was kidded about it, but it never deterred him.

    Stan was a considerate and pleasant roommate. He enjoyed presenting a gruff exterior, but those who knew him found him to be soft of heart and delightfully witty. During Plebe year, when a roommate unexpectedly entered the hospital, Stan visited him within the hour and frequently thereafter. He brought the usual supplies and reading material. Occasionally, he would smuggle something delectable from the mess hall—a plebe triumph of no small significance.

    Upon graduation on 6 June 1950, Stan was commissioned in the Signal Corps. Twelve days after graduation, Stan married his sweetheart, Naomi Mirkin, in a beautiful ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New York City.

    Stan’s and Naomi’s first assignment was to the 51st Signal Operations Battalion at Ft. Meade, MD, and the couple enjoyed their brief time together there. In August 1950, the battalion departed for Korea, via Japan, to support I Corp, joining them at Taegu inside the Pusan Perimeter in September 1950. Stan was assigned as the communications liaison officer with Korean, British, Canadian, and U.S. combat units during some of the fiercest fighting of the war. He performed his duties with courage and was dedicated to his men.

    One of his classmates recalled an incident involving Stan in Korea. One of Stan’s soldiers was running around with a carbine, threatening others. Stan just walked up to the soldier and calmly started talking to him. The agitated soldier finally handed the carbine to him. The classmate reported, "It was unbelievably brave of Stan."

    In January 1952, Stan’s father suffered a heart attack. While returning to the States from Korea on emergency leave, his DC-4 aircraft touched down at Sandspit Airport, British Columbia. The pilot saw the field was too short, and immediately took off for a new approach. He apparently circled too soon and the aircraft plunged into the frigid surf 400 yards off the end of the runway. Tragically, Stan perished in that crash.

    Stan was with us for a very brief time. We remember him as a good man, gentle and compassionate. We also remember the "indomitable spirit" mentioned in his ’50 Howitzer narrative. The military career he earnestly sought lasted only 18 months. He and his lovely wife, Naomi, were able to spend just two months together before being separated by the winds of war.

    1LT Stanley Paul Shankman served honorably in a country he had never known, to protect the freedom of strangers he had never met. He did his duty. Yet the length of his life is not as important as its quality. Stan’s star burned briefly but brilliantly, and it lit the lives of all those who were fortunate enough to know him and to love him. The memory of him survives. Well done, Stan. Be thou at peace."

SB-17G (44-85746) Rescue Plane Crash

AF 44-85746A was an SB-17G, a search-and-rescue variant of the venerable B-17 flying fortress. The official story is that it was returning from a search mission to locate survivors from a Korean airlift plane (DC-4 mentioned above) that had gone down near Sandspit, B.C. In extreme turbulence and heavy blizzard conditions, the crew experienced sporadic failure of navigation and radio equipment. The plane was tossed up and down 800 feet by the severe winter weather.

Suddenly, the plane's port wing clipped trees near the top of a ridge. The plane was slammed to the ground, ripping out the lower cockpit area and tearing off wing control surfaces. The plane bounced, crashing back to earth on its belly, knocking off engines and stripping away the external life boat slung underneath.

AF '746 then slid like a toboggan down a 2,000 foot steep slope, spewing man and machine in her wake as fire erupted through the cockpit.  Of the 8 brave souls who were aboard, 3 lost their lives on the mountain that night.

There is some speculation that the plane was actually returning from a mission to spy on the Russians. That would explain why the US Govt. was quickly on the scene to salvage key parts of the wreckage.



Excerpt from the Port Townsend Jefferson County Leader, January 24, 1952:

"A big news event took place on the Olympic Peninsula last weekend when a B-17 plane crashed on Tyler Peak and tobogganed down the mountain slope, taking the lives of three of the eight crewmen. The five survivors miraculously escaped serious injury. The worst injury to any of the five survivors was a dislocated shoulder. Tyler Peak, shown on maps of the area as 6,359 feet high, is located about midway between the Dungeness and Greywolf river valleys approximately six miles north of Marmot Pass, a landmark well known to hikers of this vicinity. The crash was in Clallam County, about three miles north of the Clallam-Jefferson county line. The plane and its eight-man crew was returning to McChord Field from a search mission of its own, looking for survivors of the Korea air lift plane which crashed off the Queen Charlotte Islands, with 36 killed. The pilot of the B-17 said the crash occurred five minutes after they passed over Dungeness. It was estimated the big plane slid down the mountain a thousand feet, leaving a trail of debris as it bounced and tumbled, finally coming to rest in a box valley. The five survivors spent Saturday night under improvised cover and were taken out Sunday by helicopter, which landed them on the front lawn of Olympic Memorial Hospital, Port Angeles. Paramedics who were flown to the scene of the crash conducted a search of the area and on Monday found the bodies of the three me who were killed. The bodies were packed to a clearing from where they were taken by helicopter to Port Angeles."


Fatalities/Survivors B-17

  • Ball, Alan - engineer (fatality)
  • DeRoth, John - radio operator (fatality) - DeRoth's body was returned to his native Stavangen, Norway.
  • Farmer, Edgar - left scanner (survivor)
  • Hartke, Charles - right scanner (survivor)
  • Hybki, Casimir "Ky" Jr. - pilot (survivor) - He wasn't flying the plane at the time of crash
  • Lankiewicz, Stanley Jr. - navigator (fatality) - He was thrown clear of the accident but died of injuries.  Born February 27, 1919, he was from Wisconsin.  He is buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California.
  • Scargall, Carl - acting flight engineer) (survivor)
  • Sentner, Kenneth - co-pilot (survivor)

Greater detail about the crash of this search and rescue plane can be seen on researcher Mike Morrow's website, The Last Flight of 746.



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