Nebraska WWII Fatal Crash Site # 20
December 15, 1943
The second fatal crash involving a B-17 near the Kearney Army Air Field occurred when a new B-17G (42-31654) that was being ferried from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Kearney approached the runway while in darkness. Before leaving Cheyenne, the pilot had misread the elevation listed for the field at Kearney and therefore the wrong altimeter setting was set into the instruments. As they approached the field, the crew of three (pilot, copilot and engineer) believed that they were much higher than they actually were. The plane crashed through a group of trees and then nosed into the steep bank of a creek bed. The copilot and engineer were killed while the pilot suffered severe injuries, but later recovered.
The site was visited on May 3, 2007, along with an older Kearney resident who used to farm the area. The exact site was verified with the discovery of wreckage in the trees along the creek bottom by using a metal detector.
The plane nosed into the left bank of this creek channel while coming from the right.
Crash Site Book