Charles Hartke


Casimir Hybki Jr.
Kenneth Sentner
Stanley Lankiewicz
Carl Scargall
Edgar Farmer
Charles Hartke
John DeRoth
Alan Ball

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SGT Charles Hartke in front of '746 on the morning of the last flight.  (Photo courtesy Charles Hartke)

23 year old Charles Hartke was in the right scanner position on the flight. 

Charles Hartke was a radio operator on flight '746.   He shared the job with the other radio operator, John DeRoth.   Hartke had performed the radio operator job on the way up to B.C.   DeRoth was performing the job on the way back, including at the time of the accident.  

Hartke remembers sitting in the complete darkness of the waist area, watching out the waist gunner window as horizontal snow flurries were lit up by the flashing green wingtip light. He heard a rare (at that time) female air traffic control operator trying to contact the plane.  After the second attempt, he prepared to click his intercom to tell the captain ATC was calling. At that moment they hit.
(based on phone conversation with Charles Hartke, 10/2000)

Below is his official account recorded in the accident report:

I was in the right scanner's seat from the beginning of the flight from Sandspit, B.C. to McChord AFB on Jan 19, 1952. As we neared Patricia bay, I switched to command position to find out how far we were from McChord. I heard the pilot report to Patricia Bay and heard the change in range quadrants. I can't remember positively whether the pilot reported over Dungeness Intersection, but I believe he did. Seattle radio was calling us and the pilot answered but they evidently did not hear us. Everett radio or some station nearby answered us and the pilot asked him what message Seattle radio had for us. They came back with a message but the radio was blocked by static as we entered a snowstorm and very rough air. About that time I fastened my seatbelt because the turbulence had lifted me off the seat several times. The pilot asked the radio station to repeat his message, but at that time we struck the mountain. My seat tore from its mounts and I believe I was in the aisle in the waist. For a brief instant we came to a stop. SGT Farmer asked who was there and I said Hartke. I unsnapped my seatbelt and before we could move out, the plane began to move again. The plane stopped for an instant, one or possibly two more times down the slope before we came to a complete stop. When we did stop, I snapped off my quick release and followed SGT Farmer out of a hole in the left side of the fuselage. The plane was burning forward on the way down but did not burn very bad until approximately 30 minutes after the plane stopped. The fire seemed to be confined to the right bomb bay and the wing, inboard of #4 engine. A few minutes after SGT Farmer and I got out, Capt Sentner came around from the nose, or what would be the nose; the URC-4 was laying a short distance from the hole in the waist and we opened it and began transmitting "MAYDAY" on 121.5 mcs. At about this same time, SGT Scargall was heard yelling up the slope and we guided him down by voice and whistles from our Mae Wests. A short time later, Capt Hybki was heard up the slope and SGT Farmer guided him down the same was as before. When we were all together, we salvaged what equipment we could find by the firelight and prepared to spend the night. We did not know until morning of the mountains surrounding us and that the URC-4 would not be effective. The CRT-3 was wedged in by the tail wheel and could not be removed.

Charles Hartke
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