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Will Rogers Dies in Plane Crash

Point Barrow, Alaska, Aug. 16. (AP) - Death, racing through an arctic fog, overtook Will Rogers, peerless comedian, and Wiley Post, master aviator, as their rebuilt airplane faltered and fell into an icy little river last night near this bleak outpost of civilization.

They had just taken off for a trifling ten-minute flight from their river position to Point Barrow. Sixty feet in the air the motor misfired. The plane heeled over on its right wing.

The lives of both the gentle master of the wise-crack and the champion serial globe trotter were crushed out instantly as the impact drove the heavy motor back through the fuselage.

Pilot Joe Crosson, a friend of both the victims, flew here, obtained the broken bodies and started back to Fairbanks, 500 miles away.

The wreckage of Will Rogers' and Wiley Post's Lockheed Orion-Explorer, after it crashed at Point Barrow, Alaska in fog due to engine failure.  Both men were killed instantly. (August 15, 1935)

The Coast Guard at Washington reported Crosson planned to proceed from Fairbanks to Juneau. The bodies were cared for here at the Presbyterian mission warehouse.

Dr. Henry W. Greist medical missionary from Indiana, said the rescue party reported "the plane debris was readily removed, as it was end to end broken to fragments by the plunge.

"The bodies," he said, "were dressed by Charles D. Brower, the 'King of the Arctic," whom Rogers was flying to see, Sergt. Stanley R. Morgan of the United States Army signal corps, and myself."

A terrified Eskimo ran fifteen miles to Point Barrow with the news of the crash of the flying vacationists. Morgan headed ed to the scene recovered the bodies and brought word of the tragedy that shocked the world.

Dr. Greist said both men apparently had died instantly. Post's watch stopped at 8:20 p.m. (10:20 p.m. Central Standard time).

"Both men's limbs were broken and both suffered severe head wounds when they were crushed in the wreckage," said Dr. Greist.'

Rogers and Post had landed on the river when the arctic fog had made them uncertain of their bearings on a 500 mile flight from Fairbanks to Point Barrow.

The Eskimo pointed out the way. A few seconds after the takeoff the plane's engine sputtered. The ship dropped into the river, striking first on its right wing and then nosing into the bank head on.

"The Eskimo said he ran to the water's edge and called, but there was no answer," said Dr. Greist.

"Alarmed, he turned and ran the fifteen miles to Barrow and informed Sergt. Morgan."

"The Eskimo was three hours running the fifteen miles to Barrow over the rough tundra, with many small lakes to encircle and many streams to cross.

"Post's watch stopped at 8:20 probably when his arm dripped into the water after death.''

Source: Galveston County The Daily News AP Archive: Aug. 16, 1935

 

 



 


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