Photo by Gerry Harris




A spectacular $4.5 million fire which destroyed a main hangar at Elmendorf Air Force Base, its office records and a $3 million F-106 Delta Dart is being investigated by a board of officers today. The hanger burst into flames about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday shortly after it was hit by the fighter-interceptor jet, which skidded on the runway to collide with the building. (Editor's note: Remember that it is very dark at 5:30 p.m. in the Arctic.) Lt. Col. Francis R. Lawson, pilot of the Delta Dart, escaped from his plane immediately after the crash, in which he suffered what Air Force officials described as a sprained back. Lawson was coming into Elmendorf on a flight from Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks when he apparently landed short of the runway and skidded into the hangar, an Air Force spokesman said. Flames shot up from the plane as it hit and set fire to the hangar, located to the left of the base operations building. After escaping the plane, Lawson reportedly ran to the front of the hangar from where an ambulance took him to the Air Force Hospital. A request for an interview with Lawson was denied the press today by Air Force officials.

No injuries, besides those incurred by Lawson, were reported. Staff Sgt. Louie Escajeda escaped safely from a weather observation station atop the hangar. Persons working inside the hangar also escaped injury. A C123 cargo plane which was in the hangar was pulled to safety after the fire broke out. The hangar is used by C123 and C130 cargo planes. The Elmendorf Fire Department called in fire fighting equipment from Fort Richardson, Anchorage and Spenard to aid in extinguishing the fire which raged for three and a half hours.

An Air Force spokesman said that about $1.1 million would be required to replace the 60,000 square foot hangar. It was built in 1944 at a cost of about $405,000, he said. Lost with the hangar were support equipment used by mechanics to maintain aircraft, wing and engine supports and testing apparatus.


Anchorage Daily News
Anchorage, Alaska
Wednesday, December 1, 1965

EDITOR'S NOTE: This hanger housed the 17th Troop Carrier Squadron's administrative offices and the flight crew members' equipment storage lockers. All personal equipment not kept at home by squadron members and all squadron records were lost in the fire.