Topics - Kodiak Crashes
That Resulted in Fatalities

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Table of Contents

  • USN VP-2 - June 15, 1951
  • PB4Y-2 - August 12, 1951
  • PB4Y-2 - August 31, 1951

USN VP-2 - June 15, 1951

This aircraft hit a ditch on landing, resulting in an aircraft fire.  There was one fatality, Lt. B.W. Sevier.  Dewey Mawson (VP2 1950-52), a member of the crew, remembers the following:

"Unckefure (I can't remember how to spell his name) and I were assigned to lower the depth charges from a plane returning from Adak. A wide ditch had been excavated across the end of the runway with the dirt piled on the side closest to the road. We thought it was odd that it wa left like that with no warning signs or flagging. We could see where planes had crossed over the road and to the clearing beyond, maybe about 50 yards. We were waiting in a small shack with the two men who were to take the charges to storage. The plane came down through the clouds, landed and immediately used reverse pitch. We commented that they did not have much runway left. The plane went behind the low hills and we lost sight of it. The we saw the smoke. We arrived at the same time as a Marine. The plane was parallel and right over the ditch, pointing to the left. Some of the crew was just outside the plane and the first words I heard was Chester Mclain yelling, "Dewey, where the hell's the meat wagon.

There was about a two foot space between the ditch and the plane. Chief ?? was lying on his back at the edge of the ditch. He yelled at us to get him away before the plane blew up. We pulled him along the ground by his parachute harness to where I had parked the truck. We were watching the crash crew at the front of the plane trying to get to the cockpit. Someone said "I hope the 20's don't start going off.

Then I was asked to why didn't I take the Chief to the hospital. I said that I wouldn't take anyone unless they could walk. Then Robert Houck got in and said "Take me." I made a mistake and drove around the plane where all the smoke was and I couldn't see a thing - thought I was going to hit something. Bob didn't look too bad, but he was complaining about his leg. At the hospital, I was watching the nurse as she was cutting Bob's pants leg when she said that I had better leave. The fire had gone up Bob's leg and it had to be amputated. If I remember right, there wasn't much left of the plane, only the wing tips and tail section. I wonder if the pilot go any commendation for probably saving the lives of his crew. He came out of the clouds to a short runway, then the base of the mountain was ahead of him, then that ditch the should not have been. I guess at the last instant he went to this left and skidded into the ditch. I went to the hospital that evening - Bob and the Chief were asleep. I don't remember if anyone else was there. I only remember two members of the crew - Chester Mclain, Ordnanceman, and Robert Houck. Recently, I found out that Phillip Warren was also a crewman on that ship."

[Source: Patrol Squadron Two website -]

PB4Y-2 - August 12, 1951

Accident Report

"A P4Y-2 type aircraft assigned to VP-9 departed NAS Kodiak at 0735 local time on August 12, 1951 for routine operational patrol to Adak, Aleutian Islands. Weather conditions at the time of take-off from NAS Kodiak, Alaska were indefinite 300-foot ceiling, one mile visibility, with light drizzle and fog. The flight proceeded without incident for the first two hours during which time routine position reports were received. At the end of the third hour no position report was received by NAS Kodiak, Alaska or NAS Adak, Alaska. Search and Rescue was alerted and intensive search of the Aleutian area was conducted. Wreckage was found August 15, 1951 at 900-foot level on Amak Island, which is located approximately twenty miles northwest, of Cold Bay, Alaska peninsula.

Analysis: Due to the fact there were no survivors, it is impossible to determine the exact cause of accident. However, since there was no evidence of material failure or malfunction, most probable assumption is the pilot was investigating radar contact by letting down through the overcast in order to make visual contact with radar target. In so doing, the pilot either received erroneous information or misunderstood instructions given by radar operator, which resulted in aircraft striking island. It is the opinion of the AAs that had there been a material failure or malfunction, the pilot would have contacted either Thornbourgh Airways at Cold Bay via voice radio or base radio via CW radio."


  • Busby, AT3 Edwin Francis Jr. - Age 22, Lowell, Massachusetts
  • Conklin, LT (jg) Robert Wilfred USN (co-pilot) - Age 24, South Great Falls, Montana
  • Elkins, AOU3 Charles Wyalis - Age 28, N.W. Linton, Indiana
  • Enloe, ALAN Bobby -Age 21, Houston, Texas
  • Flinkfeld, ADAN Elnord Ellis (aviation machinist's mate) - Age 20, Pawtucket, Rhode Island
  • Hunt, AM3 Ronald Lee - Age 21, Black Butte, Oregon
  • Park, Lt. Roy Edwin USNR (pilot) - Age 31, Columbus, Ohio
  • Sexton, AD1 Leonard Walter - Age 30, San Jose, California
  • Wagener, AOAN William Stuart (aviation ordnanceman) - Age 21, San Francisco, California
  • Williams, AL1 Brooks Alton - Age 30, Chicago, Illinois
  • Witherspoon, ATAN Joseph Dale - Age 22, Fordtown, Tennessee
  • Wood, ENS Henry Howard USNR (navigator) - Age 21, Denver, Colorado

The pilot who found the wreckage was Lt. A.M. Zakarian.  The USS Tillimook was sent to investigate.

PB4Y-2 - August 31, 1951

Accident Report

"Pilot departed NS Adak on routine operational patrol flight, destination Adak at 0616 on 31 August Weather conditions at Adak at time of take-off were ceiling indefinite, 500-ft overcast, visibility two miles with fog, wind NNE at 7kts. Pilot made GCA take-off on runway 5, continuing on northeasterly course to point 18mi ENE of station. Aircraft then started a right turn, and pilot informed GCA that he was in the clear and proceeding on his patrol. At 0914, two hours after first position report was due, Search & Rescue was alerted, and a search of his intended track was started. Wreckage was found at 1215 at about the 800-ft level on the NW side of Little Tanaga Island, which is about 16mi ESE of NS Adak.

Investigation: brought forth the following facts:

  • (A) An out report on CW, was received from 66280 at 0626.
  • (B) Pilot had made previous patrols of this same area.
  • (C) GCA lost radar contact with 66280 at four miles NE of station because of plane's insufficient altitude and requested pilot to climb which he did because radar contact was regained at six miles.
  • (D) When aircraft was 18mi. NNE, GCA heard pilot ask plane's radar operator if he had the pass on radar. It was at this time GCA control was released by pilot and plane observed, by GCA, to turn to a heading of about south. It was at this time (0625) GCA equipment was completely secured.
  • (E) With present radar repeater scope installation in cockpit of P4Y it is practically impossible for pilot to fly airplane and view radar scope.
  • (F) When proceeding through Little Tanaga Strait at low altitude on radar, the radar return from Bilak Island at time obscures the pass making it appear as a dead end.
  • (G) Marks on sidehill made by the propellers and starboard aileron indicate the plane was in a left turn, and on a easterly heading when it hit.
  • (H) There is no evidence to indicate either engine or structural failure.
  • (I) Pilot was overheard by survivor to say that he was going to turn and climb just prior to crash.
  • (J) Pilot stated the night prior to the accident that he was going to fly through Little Tanaga Strait on his south bound patrol leg.

Analysis: No definite analysis can be arrived at due to insufficient evidence. However, Board thinks it is quite possible that the pilot tried to remain below the overcast and proceed contact through Little Tanaga Strait with the aid of radar pilotage. If this assumption is true, it is also possible that he was unable to maintain contact and the radar operator was confused by the radar return from Bilak Island. It is assumed then that, the pilot decided to turn into a clear area and climb to a safe altitude, but lacked sufficient space to complete the maneuver and collided with the mountain."


  • Cook, Lt. Berdel A. (pilot) - fatality
  • Diana, Lt. (jg) William H. (pilot/navigator) - fatality
  • Huber, ALCA Marvin P. (1st radar) - fatality
  • Jenkins, AD1 George Y. (plane captain) - fatality
  • Mallard, ADC James G. (2nd mechanic) - fatality
  • McNair, AN Don R. (ordnance) - fatality
  • Molina, ALAN Anthony C. (2nd radar) - fatality
  • Mullick, AM1 Frank W. (3rd mechanic) - seriously injured
  • Sudley, Ens. Frank H. (pilot/navigator) - fatality
  • Tacie, ATAN Wilford E. (radar operator) - fatality

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