Shaw Field loses 1st flight instructor in plane crash

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Several cadets in the Flight School at Shaw Field were killed in crashes on and around the base, causing much sadness. However, on July 30, 1942 it was reported in The Sumter Daily Item that the first flight instructor was fatally injured in a plane crash. The original article is reprinted here in its entirety:

Officer, Two Cadets Die In Plane Crash Yesterday Afternoon

Two aviation cadets and a flying instructor lost their lives yesterday afternoon in the crash of two training planes three and a half miles from Shaw Field, officials at the Army Basic Flying School announced today. The dead were: Hoyt Acker, 23, a native of Asheville, N.C., and Cadets Fray A. McMillan, 25, of Charlevoix, Mich., and Curtis R. Risley, 22, of Hermon, N.C., who would have become members of Shaw Field's upper class today.

N.E. Williams of Ridgeland, a civilian pilot who was in the plane with Cadet McMillian, parachuted to safety. Guignard R. DuBose, Sumter County farmer, and LeRoy Witherspoon, his brother-in-law, saw the crash and rushed to the scene about a mile from the DuBose farm. They found instructor Williams, who told them that he had landed in a tree, and carried him to the post hospital where his injuries were pronounced only minor.

Lt. Acker, a graduate of Furman University in Greenville, was stationed at Curtis Field and Kelly Field in Texas before coming to Shaw Field. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Acker of Asheville. Cadet McMillian was the son of Dr. and Mrs. F.F. McMillian of Charlevoix, Mich. He held an A.B. degree from Albion College and B.S.F. and M.F. degrees from the University of Michigan. Accepted for flight training at Camp Custer on Jan. 15, 1942, McMillian had been at Shaw Field less than a month. Cadet Risley, whose parents are Mr. and Mrs. George N. Risley of Hermon, N.Y., was accepted as an aviation cadet on Dec. 16, 1941. He, too, was a member of Class 42-J at Shaw Field.

Shaw Field officials denied the report that four large army transport planes had crashed at Shaw Field with heavy loss of life. This erroneous rumor had been widely circulated, and officials believed it must have started from a confused report on the crash of the two training planes.

Information and photos from The Sumter Item archives.

Reach Sumter Item Archivist Sammy Way at waysammy@yahoo.com or (803) 774-1294.