Event Person

PHS Graduate in Four Killed as Plane Explodes

Captain Arthur P Bagby, 36, son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur P Bagby, 1106 Kent Street, was one of four members of an Air Force B-47 jet bomber (Aircraft # 53-2169 Type V Electronic Counter Measure) who died when the plane crashed Tuesday at 7:40 PM near Horse Cave, Kentucky.

Other members of the crew killed in the crash were Captain William E Gillespie, 49, plane commander; Lieutenant Edward P Shuller, 25, copilot; Captain George R McKemey, 28, instructor pilot. All lived in or near Columbus, Ohio.

Lieutenant Herman L Crawford, 25, of Pinkerington, Ohio, navigator, bailed out and escaped with minor injuries.

The plane left Lockbourne Air Base, south of Columbus, at 6 PM and passed over Portsmouth, almost directly over the home of his parents and a sister, Mrs. Ralph Cassidy, 2333 Argonne Road.

Apprehensive when she learned of a plane crash about 11 PM, Mrs. Bagby contacted members of her family. She knew her son was on alert and flew a mission with a terminal point near Hazard, Kentucky, near the crash scene. The family was notified of the death at 2:30 this morning.

Mr. and Mrs. Bagby went to Columbus to be with their son’s family, Mrs. Alene Wolery Bagby and sons, Malcom, 14, and Kenneth, 11 who reside at 1453 Benson Drive.

The plane crews members were in the 301st Bomb Wing of Lockbourne, a segment of the Strategic Air Command.

The accident occurred near the Mammoth Cave State Park, about 30 miles south of Fort Knox, Kentucky.

The bomber had taken on fuel from a KC97 tanker at 15,000 feet. Unaware of any difficulty the tanker returned to Lockbourne.

Witnesses reported the bomber exploded in bits as it spiraled to earth. Parts of the plane were strewn over the countryside and the trees like tinsel, witnesses said.

Lieutenant Crawford bailed out at 7,000 feet and landed in a tree. He was found walking along a road and was taken to Fort Knox.

Captain Bagby was instructor-navigator. He had served in the Air Force about 18 years. He was enlisted upon graduation from Portsmouth High School. He served in the European Theater in World War II. He was awarded a certificate of achievement for outstanding aerial service. He was assigned to Lockbourne as an instructor after a tour of duty in Labrador.

Captain Bagby was born in Portsmouth June 18, 1924. He served in the Air Corps until 1946, returned here and worked a few years for the Williams Manufacturing Company. He was in the Air Force Reserve Corps and was recalled to active duty in 1951 and elected to make the Air Force a career.

He was married in April 1946 to Alene Worley of Nauvoo

The Bagby family spend Christmas Day with their relatives here and had planned to come home next weekend. Mr. and Mrs. Bagby Sr., frequently visited their son’s home.

The father is a veteran employee of the yard department of Detroit Steel Corporation, Portsmouth Division. He worked the second shift Tuesday and was on duty when the crash occurred. Mrs. Bagby met him at the plant gate at 11 PM and told him about hearing about the jet crash in Kentucky. Arriving home they called Mrs. Cassidy and inquired if she had heard about the crash.

“Because she knew Artie was flying between Lockbourne and Hazard, Kentucky.” Mrs. Cassidy said, “mother was always apprehensive when plane crashed occurred along that route. She knew Artie was on alert.”

The Air Force announced the bodies will be taken to a mortuary in the scene vicinity pending funeral arrangement requests of the families.

Captain Bagby is also survived by a brother, Malcolm Bagby of Dayton, Ohio.1

Probe Begins in Air Crash

A team of 20 investigators of Lockbourne Air Base is at Horse Cave, Kentucky, probing a plane explosion which claimed four lives Tuesday night.

Captain Arthur P Bagby, 36, of Columbus, son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur P Bagby, 1106 Kent Street, died in the crash.

Lockbourne officials announced today that members of the staff will discuss funeral arrangements with families of the four dead flyers. Tentative plans call for a memorial service at Lockbourne Sunday.

Witnesses reported the B-47 six-jet bomber exploded and burned in the air after taking on fuel from a tanker.

Captain Bagby was wounded in the face by shrapnel in World War II and was saved from more serious injury by a helmet made in the former Selby Shoe Company plant, possibly by his mother. During the war Mrs. Bagby helped make helmets for the Air Force in the Selby plant. “It was possible,” members of the family said, “that the helmet he wore was made by his mother.”

Captain Bagby was a bombardier in World War II and won an aerial achievement award.2

Rites Set for Captain Bagby

Memorial services are to be held at 4 PM Sunday in the base chapel of Lockbourne Air Base, south of Columbus, for Captain Arthur P Bagby and three other members of a B-47 bomber crew who died Tuesday night in a plane crash at Horse Cave, Kentucky.

The memorial service is open to the public and will be conducted by the base chaplain.

Funeral services for Captain Bagby will be at 2 PM Tuesday at the Melcher Funeral Home with the burial at Rushtown.

The remains of the four flyers are in the morgue at Fort Knox, Kentucky and will be released in sealed caskets to funeral directors designated by the families, the Air Force said.

The four died when the six-jet bomber exploded and crashed in flames about 7:40 PM Tusday after being refueled at 15,000 feet.

Captain Bagby was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur P Bagby, 1106 Kent Street and a brother of Mrs. Ralph Cassidy, 2533 Argonne Road. He also is survived by his wife, Mrs. Alene Worley Bagby, and two sons, Malcolm and Kenneth of Columbus and a brother, Malcolm of Dayton.3

  1. Capt. Bagby Dies in Crash of Bomber. (1961, February 22). Portsmouth Times, p. 1.
  2. Probe Begins in Air Crash. (1961, February 23). Portsmouth Times, p. 10.
  3. Rites Set for Capt. Bagby. (1961, February 24). Portsmouth Times, p. 16.