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August 10, 2009


john nugent

I was walking home from grade school and saw the smoke suddenly rising from the mountain, not knowing until later what had happened. I was just admiring the snow, which was a rarity in El Paso, and looked beautiful covering Mt.Franklin. Years later I worked with an ex-serviceman who told me he had, fortunatly, been bumped from that flight.

Vincent C. Kemendo

Ms. Long - -

I do vividly remember this event. I was 15 years old and a sophomore at El Paso High School and on this day, Dec-11-1953, during the last period, which was study hall, I was in the library which was on the third floor at east end of the school building. I was back in the book shelves with classmate, Robert Calhoun, looking out the windows that faced Mount Franklin checking out the dense fog and snow. Not only was the mountain not visible but Brown Street about one-quarter of a mile away was barely visible. We could hear the distinctive drone of the airplane engines, which was louderr than normal. We were familar with this drone since the B-36s flew in and out of Biggs AFB in El Paso frequently. We heard an explosion and no more drone sound. Robert and I both remarked and wondered if the airplane had hit the mountain. It was not until I was home from school that I knew of the accident.

Thecrash site could be seen just below the peck on Mountain Franklin for several years after this accident,a distinctive black spot, that could be seen from Mesa Street. If my memory serves me correctly this black spot on the mountain was about above present day at Festival Street.

An internet article concerning the B-36 is interesting to me. The aircraft was built by Convair and was the largest piston engined aircraft ever made and had largest wingspan combat aircraft ever built--230 feet. It was built to deliver nuclear weapons and had a range of 6,000 miles and payload of 72,000 pounds. One version, the B-36D, used both piston and jet engines. The six piston engines were mounted on back of the wings and "pushed" the aircraft. The B-36 never fired at an enemy nor dropped a bomb. The aircraft was in service from 1949 to 1958.

One of bases listed for the B-36 was 95th Bobardment Wing at Biggs AFB (El Paso).

There was another military crash into Mountain Franklin. The book authored by Leon C. Metz, El Paso Chronicles, lists a B-24 bomber taking off from Biggs and crashing in the Mount Franklin Red Rock Canyon on east side of mountain in March 1944. There were no survivors.

Vincent C. Kemendo

Home Removal Companies

I just can not believe such stories still happen till this day. John, really had a great sight to the events but it is sometimes unbelievable how close we come to death.

Art Reyes

Reading all these postings brought back memories of my home town. As a kid tagging along with his older brothers, I found an aircraft radio that could only have come from the B-36 . Around 1960-61 a group of us found a tri-motor aircraft engine on the East side of the mountain in Mckelligan Canyon. Is there any history of a plane crash in that area?

Trish Long

Art, I got a call this week from the War Eagles Museum and they were looking for information on a crash in McKelligan Canyon. I have been trying to find something on it but haven't yet. As soon as I do I will post it. Narrowing it down to 60-61 helps though.

S Wisdom

The March 1961 Crash was of a USAF KB-50 Tanker (this was a modified B-29 Super Fortress re-purposed for in-flight refueling)which killed nine aviators on board and no one on the ground. The crash site was nine miles northeast of Biggs Air Force Base and six miles north of the Carlsbad highway (Hwy 62E).
The KB-50 refueling plane, returning from Wake Island in the Pacific, was approaching the main runway at Biggs from the east for a landing.

The names of the dead:
Maj. FRED G. PADELFORD, 46, of 7209 Ramey circle, El Paso, aircraft commander. His home town was Spokane. He is survived by his widow and four children.
Capt. BRUCE E. CHRISTIAN, 31, co-pilot, son of Mr. and Mrs. John F. Christian of Reading, Pa.
Maj. WAYNE W. HOLT, 46, navigator, of 3408 Dornoch street, El Paso, home town Albion, Ind. Survived by his widow.
T/Sgt. CHARLES C. TIMMSEN, 32, flight engineer, of Kellogg, Minn. Survived by his widow.
S/Sgt. BERNARD F. RIVERS, 32, flight engineer, of 5109 Alps drive in El Paso, home town Rochdale, Mass. Survived by widow and two children.
S/Sgt. HAROLD B. MECUSEN, 27, refueling operator, of Spokane, Wash. Survived by his widow.
A/1C CLIFTON C. TABOR, 27, refueling operator, son of Mr. and Mrs. Carroll S. Tabor of Albany, Texas.
S/Sgt. CLAUDE L. EARLY, 28, maintenance crew chief, a passenger, of Hardin, Mo.
A/2C JOSEPH T. ROTHSCHOPF, 23, assistant crew chief, a passenger, son of Joseph Rothschopf, Sr., of Parker, Colo.

This list comes from the El Paso Herald Post of 06 March 1961

Tom W. McKay

Trish, You do an excellent job rather the topic is morbid, good memorabilia, or little known facts. That being said, I have had a difficult time finding news from the 1940's Cowboy Park off Polo Inn Road where Willie Shoemaker rode horses as did my brother William 'Buddy' McKay. Willie didn't like Quarter Horse riding as it was all 'Get It On' from the break. He loved the thoroughbreds because he could rate them, make serious charges down the stretch, had a body that fit the horses like he was a part of them, and had those wonderful soft hands that never choked down a horse and made him so efficient at getting his steeds to grab the bit. He learned early on how to get a horse to switch leads as smooth as any good vehicles tranmission change of gears
On the other hand, Bud was super strong,was terrific out of the gate on QB's, and once in front , nearly impossible to beat. He set a few world records back in those times but the folks in those days responsible for record keeping evidently didn't do a very good job. Of course, betting was not allowed by the state so most bets were individual. Many races were match races with good betting but no records kept.
The late Judge Lanier, who owned a steak house near Five Points, owned many horses and made some good money by riding Bud, also deceased.
Keep in mind that the original Cowboy Park was across the river in Juarez (Zaragosa) as was the splendid 'Waterfill Gardens' where my father Raymond McKay put on a World Championship Rodeo in 1933. I still have a rare program of that event.
Talk about a splendid place to go in Juarez years ago, then talk about the Waterfill Gardens. It was magnificent and there is little information on the internet. Too bad, many of us old timers were treated like royalty there. You could have a full day of food, drink, and entertainment for under five dollars.
have a happy

Trish Long

Thanks Tom, I will see what I can find on Cowboy Park and Waterfill Gardens.

Judy Frie Frost

I'm writing a book about my Grandfather M. Uribe.

I remember when he would go to the cross on Mt. Franklin, to the right of the "A". I was very young and understood some of what he was doing, but not entirely all. Then one day I asked him why he was doing what he was doing. He began to tell me proudly why he did what he did which will be in my book.

Stay tuned.

Judith Frie Frost

Jerry Honeycutt

Wow! My mom always tell the story of the night I was born, December 11, 1953, that a B36 crashed that day, and my dad's best friend was suppose to be on that flight, but because my mom went into labor, my dad's friend subsituted for him on his crew, and someone else filled his spot on the plane that crashed. This is the first time I've been able to find any information on the crash that day.


Wow! It's a pretty scary thought to have a B-36 bomber crash into a small town. My sincerest condolences to the families affected.

Tony O Flores

I've posted a response to this same matter on Face Book, but here goes again. I was a first grader at Crockett elementary that year. It was snowing lightly as we were starting our way home upon the 2:30 dismissal time from school. As I was sliding down the grassy slope along with some other kids, I heard the unmistable drone of that B-36 as it was lumbering westward (on the final path before it would make its final approach eastward). I remember getting home and hearing my Dad say that a plane had just crashed on the mountain. That day is so etched in my memory. Thanks for the article, though I read it rather late from the day of its posting on the Times.

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Trish Long is the El Paso Times’ archivist and spends her time in the morgue, where the newspaper keeps its old clippings and photos. View this blog at its new home at http://blogs.elpasotimes.com/morgue/
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