Convair test pilot Dave Franks turned his B-36 Peacemaker away from the heavily populated beach areas of San Diego, California. Franks was unable to exit the aircraft before it crashed into the sea and exploded. Image rendered by Gary Fabian.
Civilian Pilot Hailed as B-36 Crash Hero
Bomber Turned Away From Crowded Beach
Area Before Explosion Near San Diego
Los Angeles Times, August 7, 1952
DIEGO, Aug. 6 (AP) - A civilian test pilot was credited
today with turning an Air Force B-36 Bomber away from
heavily populated beach areas before it exploded and
crashed into the sea yesterday.
Two men, including Pilot David H. Franks, 40, were lost. Six parachuted into the sea and were saved.
Lt. Col. Stephen Dillon, president of an Air Force investigating board, said the plane was approaching Lindbergh Field for a landing when flames broke out. Franks headed the ship out over the ocean, away from residential sections adjoining the airport, Dillon said.
Dillon added Franks stayed at the controls longer than would have been required, apparently in order to give other crew members a better chance to jump and to continue to direct rescuers to the scene by radio.
Kenneth Rogers, flight engineer, last man to leave the front cabin, pleaded unsuccessfully with Franks to jump with him, Dillon said.
Franks, a test pilot for Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corp. since 1944, previously lived in Phoenix, Ariz.
Search for Franks and W. W. Hoffman, first flight engineer, both of San Diego, was called off today.
All of the crew members were employees of Convair, which was modernizing the plane.
Coast Guard planes rescued four and Navy ships picked up two. The rescued, none seriously injured, are R. W. Adkins, co-pilot; Rogers, W. F. Ashmore, Roy E. Sommers, D. R. Maxion and W. E. Wilson, all of San Diego.