4 SAVED, 17 MISSING, 2 BODIES RECOVERED IN A.F. SEA CRASH
Honolulu, (AP) Seventeen fliers were missing, the
bodies of two others recovered, and four men were snatched from the turbulent
sea yesterday after a Navy Super Constellation plunged into the Pacific
Cmdr. Guy Howard, 41 years old, a pilot for 18 years and executive officer of the four-engine radar picket plane, said he believed an explosion caused the mishap during the routine training mission. But the Honolulu Star-Bulletin said one of the surviving crewmen told the newspaper the crew was conducting a fire drill while flying at 1,500 feet when all four engines quit. The paper said it was not known whether the engines stopped because someone shut them off accidently, or for another reason. The Navy wouldn't confirm or deny the report.
Commander Howard, of Oakland, Cal., and the other three men picked up by a crash boat, were burned, cut and bruised. His companions were Lt. (j.g.) John Thomas Kline, 25, of Honolulu, Lt. (j.g.)Richard L. Rentschler, 22, of Lincoln Neb. And Aviation Technician Franklin A. Henry, 22, of Kankakee, Ill. The Navy identified one of the missing as Robert Owen Clark, air controlman, airborne CIC operator 3/c, whose father Orville D. Clark lives in Frankfort, Ind.
Attendants at Tripler Hospital said the condition of the four survivors was good. Cmdr. Howard was treated for head injuries and cuts and doctors said he might have a skull fracture. Kline received treatment for second and third degree burns on one side of his body, and his arms and legs.
The $7,500,000 plane, literally a flying radar station, carried six tons of radar equipment in a bowl shaped plastic dome atop her fuselage. Such planes are attached to an aircraft early warning wing at Barbers Point on the Island of Oahu.
At 3:30 p.m., Monday, when the pilot made his last check report, the plane was 100 miles northeast of Oahu. A few minutes later, it was only 25 miles north of the island when radar screens picked it up, possibly circling for a landing at Barbers Point. The big ship suddenly and inexplicably dropped off the screen.
A great search by air and sea got under way.
The searchers found much debris among the towering waves, some of which topped 14 feet.
Crash boats picked up the four survivors and recovered the two bodies. The crew of the destroyer escort Lansing found a half-opened parachute.
Com. Howard told reports he was certain he saw several
other men alive in the water shortly after the crash. Those rescued were
wearing life jackets. No distress call was reported by military stations
in Hawaii, nor did any merchant ship report hearing such a call from the