Eatonville Center of Hunt for Lost Airplane (December 1946)

Walter Winchell
Walter Winchell

This article ran in the Eatonville Dispatch, December 19, 1946.

Eatonville Center of Hunt for Lost Airplane

Eatonville was “in the news” for a brief period last week end.

Walter Winchell, the New York radio gossipeer, gave it out in his Sunday evening broadcast that the lost plane with its 32 Marines aboard, had been discovered by Chief of Police Harry Comber of Eatonville on the Rimrocks, a few miles north of here and the sensational “news” was diffused all over the United States.

Mr. Comber’s bomb, however, turned out to be a dud. Nothing was found on the Rimrocks but the usual rocks and other scenery. On Tuesday Comber was again quoted on the radio news this time to the effect that he and others mistook some reflection on a mineral surface for the wings and fuselage of the plane through the glass they used.

The chief’s alarm on the phone brought the state patrol, the coast guard, the army, newspaper representative, airplanes and searchlights, including a helicopter from McChord Field, about 30 men altogether, including a radio transmitter and receiving station which was set up on Mashell Avenue.

Eatonville story of missing airmen
Eatonville story of missing airmen

The hunt on the Rimrocks began after dark Sunday night and was continued until 3 o’clock in the morning and again the next day until the searchers were satisfied there was nothing there.

A reporter from the Seattle P.I. and another from the International News Service were among the cotsiders. The party wanted something to eat and drink during the night, but all restaurants were colosed. They got hot coffee anyway — George Hlavin invited them all to the Sport Shop and served them coffee there about midnight.

Another futile search ended Wednesday night, after mysterious fired had been reported by a farmer in Pleasant Valley and investigation was made in the Bald hills between here and Yelm. The hunt has been temporarily called off and a conference is being held in Seattle to co-ordinate all information and determine what to do next.

1946 article from Dispatch (page 2)
1946 article from Dispatch (page 2)

More than two-score search planes scanned the Mount Rainier area Thursday, with the help of the first fair weather since the plane was downed in a storm nearly a week ago. The army contributed 29 planes to the search, the navy 14 and the coast guard three.

The pilots reported no success and said they were hampered by a haze near the ground. Coast guard authorities believe the plane was forced down on Nisqually glacier on the towering peak.

Earlier int he day a searching party scoured the rugged country four miles north of Eatonville in vain after a state fire patrolman had reported seeing an object that might be a plane’s fuselage near Ohop lake.

The area was on the direct air line from San Diego to Seattle — the route the plane was following when it was last heard from.

International News Service Correspondent Gene Schroeder accompanied Lt. Comdr. R. W. Finley of the coast guard and Lt. (jg) R. J. Evans as they fought their way to the scene over jagged rocks and through tangled underbrush. The only object they found was an old logging operation, which they believed could have been mistaken for wreckage.

The names of those on the last plane have not been made public.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: