On July 16, 1942, Pilot 1st Lt. William P. Marsh Jr. flew his B-24D into a mountain some 15 miles southeast of Spokane, Washington. Ceiling was at 5400’, and Marsh flew his B-24 to practice night landings. At about 0300 he took off in B-24D #41-23648 on a local night flight. He flew through a small shower and then, apparently disoriented flew Southeasterly over the homes of Mr. Dean D. Triggs and Mrs. J.J. Wagner. The latter was on the slope of Signal Peak. At this point the aircraft was “dangerously low.” A short time later he hit near the top of the hill.
The aircraft was a total loss. The forces of the crash and “explosion had blown bodies and the plane to pieces.” The copilot was found still strapped in his seat, but was thrown clear of the wreck. The engineer was found in the vicinity of the Bombay with his parachute on and the rip chord pulled. The chute was somewhat spread out on the ground near him. The report indicates that if he did jump, it was at the same time the crash happened and it was obviously too late.
The ceiling was between 4 and 6000’ and the night was very dark with no horizon. The cause was attributed to 85% pilot error, with 5% each to contributing factors of Weather, Terrain, and Darkness.
The report contains several interviews of officers and men at the airfield, in this case Geiger AAF. Questions range from “What was the weather like?” to “What sort of officers were flying that night?” There are a few pictures. One of which shows wreckage of the aircraft and in the distance some sort of body of water. My brother-in-law, who lived in the area, suggested it may be Lake Coeur de Alane, possibly looking down on to Mica Bay.
Most of these reports come from accidents that happened while training. All are evidence of the way training ramped up during WWII and how the entire country became an “Arsenal of Democracy.” If one looks at the subcontracting for a single aircraft, it is easy to see how the whole country was part of the war effort, let alone examining the entire war industry. War is not a “safe” industry and it seems that casualties are expected. The estimated number of losses in aircraft accidents in the continental US is staggering.