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Plane Down Near Here, Belief


Fort Collins Express Courier, October 19, 1943

Sheriff Ray M. Barger announced at 2:30 p.m. today that Lowry field authorities informed him that a B-17 bomber is missing. It may have carried a full crew, the sheriff was informed.

The sheriff issued a warning to motorists not to drive to the scene of the crash, in order to avoid creating traffic congestion which would hamper Army vehicles in their work. With stormy weather and bad road conditions expected, he said, there is further reason for avoiding traffic congestion.

Information relayed early this afternoon to the Express-Courier by the Associated Press indicated that a plane vaguely reported to have crashed late yesterday somewhere in or near the northeastern tip of Rocky Mountain National forest, may have been en route from Rapid City, S.D., to Denver.

Mrs. Albert Chandler, who lives on the Rockwell ranch about 20 miles due west of Fort Collins, told the sheriff's office here at 10:45 p.m. last night that a plane, apparently flying low, passed over the ranch. Shortly afterward, she said, she heard a violent explosion.

Lowry field authorities, from whom Sheriff Ray M. Barger awaited word to indicate whether any planes were missing from the field, told the Associated Press "that the only information it has on a plane is that it is supposed to be from Rapid City, S.D., and was forced down." Further check was being made with Rapid City, the AP reported.

No Fire Seen

Mr. and Mrs. Chandler drove their automobile along roads near the ranch after hearing the explosion last night, the sheriff was told. They were unable, however, to sight any fire which might have resulted from a plane crash.

Early today, the sheriff said, other ranchers living in the vicinity of Signal mountain, just outside the northeastern edge of the national park, reported sighting a smudge that might have indicated either a plane crash or a hunter's abandoned campfire.

To Comb Area

Vernon Spencer of the J. Derby ranch and others told the sheriff they would investigate the rugged and inaccessible area by foot and horseback.

At Christman field here, Otis Massey, president of the Massey and Ransom Flying service, stood by with the sheriff awaiting more definite word from Lowry field. Mr. Massey said the opportunity for scouting the national park area with local planes was extremely limited, since snow already was falling there and storm signals had been posted here.

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