Pilots hope to restore plane
Flight: Vintage Navy aircraft was damaged during crash
landing in August; pilot to fly another plane at Family Freedom Day
Last Modified: 1:36 a.m.
By Erin Adamson
(785) 295-1185 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Grumman C-1A Trader rests in a cornfield near
Macomb, Ill., after Topekans Robert Eichkorn, Doug Goss and
Richard Cronn crash landed the plane. Nobody was injured in the
crash. The three members of a flying club based at Forbes Field
were returning from an airshow in South Bend, Ind., on Aug. 18
when the right engine of their vintage Navy aircraft suddenly
exploded and the plane dropped out of the sky.
Topeka airplane enthusiasts were flying home from Indiana on Aug. 18
when the right engine of their vintage Navy aircraft exploded and
the plane dropped out of the sky.
It took about three minutes for the plane to plummet into a
cornfield near Macomb, Ill. Pilot Doug Goss said in that short time
he experienced the first crisis situation in his 30 years of flying.
Goss, along with co-pilot Robert Eichkorn and Richard Cronn, who
is co-owner of the plane with Goss, landed safely and no one was
even bruised in the crash.
The three members the of flying club Warbirds of America Squadron
14, which is based at Forbes Field, were returning in their Grumman
C-1A Trader, named "Miss Belle," from an airshow at South Bend,
Ind., that day.
"There's a saying in flying that there's long hours of boredom
punctuated by a few minutes of stark terror," Goss said. "I told
those guys I had a guardian angel. There was a lot of divine
intervention that day, I'm convinced of that."
While grateful that no one was hurt, the members of Squadron 14
were dealt a blow by the condition of their meticulously restored
Miss Belle. Eichkorn said the engine explosion and ensuing crash
ruined both engines, a wing, and crumpled the fuselage, or body, of
Eichkorn said the plane had been well maintained and the engine
was in excellent condition, and the explosion was a rare failure.
Squadron 14 is trying to raise about $150,000 to restore the
Trader and preserve a piece of military history. Eichkorn said the
plane reminds him of the sacrifices made by members of the U.S.
military to protect American freedoms.
"It's not so much like we're owners," he said. "It's like we're
caretakers because of it's long history."
Goss said the group wants to preserve the unique history of one
of the only 87 Grumman C-1A Traders that were made. The Navy used
the Trader from 1958 to 1988 to carry mail, light cargo and
"It was essentially the taxi cab from the carrier to the
mainland," he said.
During the Vietnam War, the Trader flew supply flights to bases
in the Philippines, Guam, and South Vietnam.
Now retired from the Navy, Miss Belle has made a name for herself
in Topeka. Goss and Cronn bought the plane four years ago for
Squadron 14 members to fly and maintain at a hanger at Forbes Field.
Members fly the Trader at airshows in the Topeka area and around the
Goss said the most satisfying part of owning the plane has been
meeting people at airshows who flew the Trader during its 30 years
of service. Squadron 14 has organized reunions for past pilots and
crews of the Trader, and, Goss said, their stories motivate the
group to keep the Trader flying.
"It's one thing to see it in a museum, and another to see it
flying," smell the exhaust and hear the roar of the engines,
Goss will be back in the air Saturday flying another vintage
military plane at Family Freedom Day at Forbes Field. He said
Squadron 14 would be sharing information about Miss Belle and hoped
the public would see the value in helping to restore the plane.