Hangars and Planes Damaged by Fire
Combined efforts of fire companies from the South San Francisco, San Bruno, San Mateo, Hillsborough, Millbrae and San Mateo County (located at Redwood City) fire departments saved a number of hangars and planes at the San Francisco Airport June 15 after the plane of a young army pilot crashed as he attempted to land at the airport, about 15 miles south of the heart of San Francisco on the Bayshore Highway.
The pilot, Second Lieut. Janies H. Mitchell, 23, Cleveland, O., was killed in the crash, landing his plane after it developed motor trouble as he was coming in for a landing.
An Army spokesman at Hamilton Field later said:
“Lieutenant Mitchell portrayed the high type of courage displayed time and again on our far flung battle fronts by the Army Air Forces when he maneuvered his wildly careening fighter craft from a path which would have flung it into the open door of a hangar housing over 200 enlisted men. and crashed in flames against a dividing partition between two maintenance hangars.
“Fellow pilots of Lieut. Mitchell said it was apparent the young flyer, fully realizing his own predicament, banked his speeding craft when only a few feet from the ground, causing his left wing tip to drag and change direction of his line of flght, avoiding the quarters of the enlisted men and crashing the plane against the maintenance hangars. He thereby saved the lives of a large number of men who were relaxing in their quarters.”
As the plane hit, the gasoline tanks hurst and the gasoline ignited, spattering the hangars with flame. Heat was so intense that machine gun bullets exploded and peppered the vicinity.
It was then the field fire department summoned outside help.
The outside companies managed to halt the flames before they destroyed other planes and hangars. The Army later said that two hangars and four planes damaged in the fire could be repaired.