|On December 10, 1952, a C-47D with the tail number 44-76447
crashed on a mountain range in Nevada during windy, icy weather.
There were six fatalities.
According to an article on page one of the Albuquerque Journal
(December 12, 1952), "Searching planes ranged over a 300-mile,
three-state area without success today seeking the missing plane.
More than 30 military and civilian planes swarmed over northeastern
Nevada, western Utah and part of southern Idaho. Rancher Joe Vignolo
of La Moille, 20 miles southeast of Elko, Nevada, in the Ruby
mountains, notified search headquarters at Elko that he heard what
sounded like a circling airplane about 2 p.m. yesterday. The C-47
was last heard from by radio over the northeastern Nevada-Utah
Probable cause of the crash: "While flying under IFR, the pilot
did not maintain sufficient drift correction to stay within the
airway, and extreme downdrafts caused the aircraft to descend
approximately 1,300 feet below the assigned altitude." [Source:
Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Achives]
Details about the crash can be found in an official Air
Force crash report. See details (found on www.rubymountains.net) below.
On December 10, 1952, C-47 AF44-76447 piloted by Major Joseph
Scurzi departed Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, CO, destination
Stead AFB, NV, and 15 minutes later C-47 AF43-49553 piloted by 1st
Lt Hans Hansen departed Peterson AFB for the same destination. The
route would cross northern Nevada.
Pilots were briefed on the weather that was considered visual from
Peterson Field to Sinclair, WY Radio and on instruments from that
point to Reno Radio. Ogden, UT and Elko, NV reported 5,000 foot
overcast ceilings with 15 to 50 mile visibilities and scattered snow
showers. Winds were given as 20-30 knots at the 12,000 foot flight
Major Scurzi later reported that wind was stronger than what was
forecasted and estimated to be 45 knots. Turbulent conditions had
not been mentioned during the weather briefings, but extreme
turbulence was encountered at the intersection of the Lucin, UT and
Elko Radio Ranges. Light rime ice was encountered that required
occasional use of wing de-icer boots, prop de-icer, and carburetor
de-icing fluid. Major Scurzi indicated that at no time were the
icing conditions considered dangerous and all de-icing equipment
Major Scurzi heard Ogden radio station acknowledging Lt Hansen's
position report over Lucin station. At the intersection of the Lucin
and Elko Radio Ranges, Major Scurzi encountered such extreme
turbulence that required both he and the co-pilot to be on the
controls in order to maintain level flight. Their aircraft lost
approximately 800 feet altitude upon initial entry into the
turbulent down draft and the wind drift to the south was stronger at
that point. The turbulence lasted 10-15 minutes and required
lowering the landing gears to help stabilize the aircraft. It was
necessary to make several large corrections of about 50 degrees to
the right to get back on the course of the Elko Range. After passing
Elko Radio, Major Scurzi's aircraft heard Elko Radio trying to
contact Lt. Hansen's aircraft but without success. Battle Mountain,
Lovelock and Reno Radio also tried to contact but without success.
Search and rescue aircraft from Hamilton AFB and Stead AFB were sent
out to look for the overdue C-47 and two days later on December
12th, the crashed aircraft was spotted at an elevation of
approximately 10,700 feet on the east slope of the East Humboldt
range between Wells and Elko, NV. The downed aircraft was reached by
the rescue party on December 13th. (Several peaks in this area,
including Hole in the Mountain Peak where the aircraft crashed,
exceed 11,000 feet.) The crash location is approximately 13 miles to
the left of the centerline of the Elko Radio Range. A rancher about
seven miles east of the scene reported later that he heard a large
aircraft around 1500 MST but could not see it due to the low
overcast and snowstorm.
Capt. Edward W. Morris, USAF 41st Air Rescue Squadron, Hamilton
AFB, CA, who was part of the rescue operation provided the following
information: Approximately 60 feet from the top of the ridge south
of the crash, the party found a large piece of metal, presumably an
engine cowling. As we progressed further down the mountain, a small
door was found about 80 feet from the cowling. This door was singed
on the inside but not badly burned. The main wreckage was about 250
feet from the ridge. (Another document, source of information not
shown, indicates the main wreckage was 500 yards from the initial
point of impact.)
The fuselage was badly damaged and split in two from the rear door
to the tail. The right wing was comparatively intact and one engine
was detached and setting by the wing. It appeared to be badly
damaged. (Ken Hammond and I located the second engine the following
summer some distance below the primary crash location.) Capt. Morris
reported that it appeared gasoline had been scattered for a distance
of 60 feet surrounding the aircraft since all the rocks in the area
were blackened. The aircraft had been carrying 400 gallons of
gasoline in the forward fuselage tanks.
Since the rescue party was in great haste to leave the mountain
before darkness, very little interest was centered on looking for
valves, switches, etc. Capt. Morris had the opportunity to look at
the altimeter panel instrument but both hands were not present. It
was noted that a watch located on one of the victims was stopped at
2155. He stated that the area was accessible only because of the
perfect weather conditions during the two day trek to the wreckage.
He advised that inexperienced personnel keep off the mountain until
such time that the snow melts. All personnel onboard suffered fatal
- Hansen, 1Lt. Hans E. (pilot)
- Boozer, 1Lt. James V. (co-pilot)
- Barlow, 1Lt. Harry E. (navigator)
- Mateja, M/Sgt. Richard W. (radio operator)
- Olson, A/2C Allyn B. (flight engineer)
- Evans, James A. (passenger)
Biographies of Fatalities
Barlow, Harry Earl
Lieutenant Barlow was born April 15, 1925 in Elgin, Illinois,
son of Farnsworth Barlow (1895-1975) and Elizabeth Irwin Barlow
(1896-1974). His wife was Carol Barlow. His sister
was Betty Lee Barlow (1931-1937). Lieutenant Barlow, a
World War II and Korea veteran, is buried in Golden Gate
National Cemetery, San Bruno, California.
Boozer, James Vernon
Lieutenant Boozer was born April 1, 1923 in Calhoun County,
Alabama, son of John Lawrence Boozer (1898-1986) and Mamie Janet
Watson (1906-1995). His wife was Sarah Ethelyn Graham
Boozer (1921-2001). James and Sarah are buried in Pleasant
Valley Baptist Church Cemetery, Angel, Alabama. Lieutenant
Boozer escaped death in a crash landing at Pederson Air Field
near Colorado Springs just a week before this fatal crash.
Evans, James A. "Jimmy"
Jimmy Evans was born December 12, 1932 in Monett, Missouri, a
son of Joseph Leo Evans and Jessie Earle Melton Evans
(1896-1991). His siblings were Mary E. Clevenger
(1917-1955), Emily Lee Clevenger (1919-2007), Priscilla
Standefer (1939-1958), Willa May Fischer (1921-2000), Eva Goigle,
Gertrude Thomas, Jean Roush, Ruth Sanders, and Joe Evans.
Jimmy is buried in the Monett IOOF Cemetery.
Hansen, Hans Eugene
Lieutenant Hansen was born January 4, 1925 in North Platte,
Nebraska, son of Hans and Mary Wilgus Hansen. He was the
husband of Helen Ruth Lorenz Hansen (1923-2018). He is
buried in the North Platte Cemetery. He was a World War II
and Korean War veteran.
Mateja, Richard William
Richard was born September 11, 1922 in Nebraska, son of Ignac
and Frances Mateja. He had one brother, Ladislav "Laddie"
Robert Mateja, who died at age 30 in 1952. KWE research
indicates that he had a wife Anna and one child, but this has
not been confirmed. Richard is buried in Golden Gate
National Cemetery, San Bruno, California.
Olson, Allyn Boyd
Allyn Olson was born October 18, 1931 in Albert City, Iowa,
son of Clee H. Olson (1905-1985) and Esther E. Olson
(1906-1994). He is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Jolley,
Iowa. It is believed that his wife was Marjorie Olson, but
the KWE has not confirmed this.