Carl Scargall was acting flight engineer on the aircraft at the time
of the crash. The other flight engineer, Alan Ball, had decided to rest in the radio
room and Scargall took over for him. This decision would turn out to be a fateful
one for Ball.
The following account was told to me during a phone conversation with Mr.
Scargall on October 4th, 2000:
Just before the impact, he was standing behind Captain Sentner (co-pilot).
He believes they skimmed the top of some trees initially, slowing their speed and breaking
off large portions of the wings. At impact, he was thrown against the co-pilot's
seat, cutting his nose (5-6 stitches) and ear and knocking him out briefly. Seconds later
he came to and saw the pilot (Hybki) and co-pilot scrambling over top of him to exit the
cockpit. He believes that they took one look at his bloodied face and gave him up for
There was a stack of chest-strap parachutes piled up on one of the rear fold-down chairs.
At impact, they landed in a heap on top of him, making his exit even more difficult.
He said the plane broke in two at the radio room and Hybki exited (was ejected?) through
the gap. Sentner made it to the bomb bay and rode the plane down the hill, bracing
himself on the reinforced bomb racks. "It was like being in a washing machine"
he said Sentner described later that night.
When Scargall got up to exit, a large portion of the cockpit ripped off. He headed for the
opening when the whole nose area ripped off and he was tossed out. He continued to roll
down the hill head-over-heels "spraining everything", landing legs up in the
snow. He felt the post-crash snow avalanche burying him and says it was the only time he
was really scared. The snow stopped when it reached his waist and he wriggled his way out.
About 200 feet below he could see an engine burning and the large tail section aft of the
"observation windows" (the tail is present in many of the old pictures and the
observation windows are the waist gunner positions I believe).
There were two crew members in the waist area (Hartke and Farmer according to my research)
which was packed with soft sleeping bags and rescue supplies. They rode the plane
all the way down, bouncing around on the soft "padding".
He joined Sentner, Hartke, and Farmer below at the main wreckage. In 10 or 15 minutes they
heard Hybki yelling and guided him to the camp with shouting.
A "Sikorsky H-21" helicopter rescued them in 3 flights. He was taken first
because they figured he was hurt the worst with all the facial blood. In fact, the
co-pilot (ferried out on the next flight) turned out to be injured the worst with a
"split shoulder blade" that was likely caused when Scargall was tossed against
the co-pilot's seat at first impact! Talk about irony.
One final note: The rescue paramedics were from the same search and rescue detachment as
the crew of '746 and returned the following summer. They were going to recover valuable
spares for the aging SB-17 fleet- starters, generators, etc. They got there to find most
of the items missing. On the way out of the woods they ran into an old farmer packing out
goodies. Turns out this guy was salvaging the engines, one piece at a time, for possible
resale. They went to his farm, located the stash and confiscated it as government
The following is Scargall's official report to the Inquiry Board in 1952:
23 Jan 1952
I was the engineer, SB 5746. I was standing behind the pilot's seat and I was watching the
controls and the instruments and checking the wings for ice with the aldice lamp. We were
hitting turbulence before we got into the mountainous area. We hit rain squalls, snow
squalls every little while, and I had to keep the anti-ice pumps on about halfway.
I forget where it was that we got clearance to let down from 8,000 to 6,000 feet; I wasn't
watching the compass. I don't know the heading we were supposed to be on.
We were indicating about 170 miles an hour and we had gone down to 6,000 feet and the
manifold 31 inches and the RPM about 2,000. Other instruments were indicating normal. The
aircraft was OK. I don't know exactly the time we hit. The pilot was having a lot of
trouble getting contact on the radio. I was on interphone. We hit extreme turbulence and
heavy snow flurries just before we crashed. Evidently it was when we got into the
mountains. Updrafts and downdrafts were throwing the plane all over. There was no safety
belt for the engineer and I was kind of leaning back on the oxygen bottles on the right
hand side back of the co-pilot's seat when we hit. I was knocked into the seat and the
seat broke off and I slumped over. My head was approximately down where the seat was. We
had the feeling at the time we hit - it was just like hard landing. A sharp thud and I
don't believe anything broke off then. We may have lost the boat. There was a fraction of
a second where nothing happened and all of a sudden all Hell broke loose. The first thing
that happened-evidently, I think it was the oxygen exploding-- flames broke out from
around the rudder pedals and my face was right down close. The next thing I remember the
pilot and co-pilot-I was kind of down and they were jumping over me, going out they were
OK. I couldn't move because there was some parachutes on my feet. They had been next to
the hydraulic panel behind me and they slipped down on my legs and I had to get them off
before I could get up. By the time I got the equipment off, I didn't see either of the
pilots; they had gone. I started looking around for a way to get out and just as I stood
up the ship cracked open right in back of the pilot's seat, split off. I stepped in the
opening and then it gave a lurch and it tossed me out. I must have flown through the air
for about 8 feet and I lit on a steep snow slope. I must have rolled along 200 or 500
feet. All it did was bruise me up awful bad, wrenched my back and neck. I lit upside down
in the snow. Snow covered me about to my waist.
SGT Carl Scargall