The 1963 Millington Plane Crash - A Resident Speaks About That Night



An aerial view of the crash site today.

photo courtesy Google

In our May 2013 issue, I tell the rather amazing story of the March 15, 1963, crash of a military transport into a residential neighborhood in Millington. Although the plane burst into flames after plowing through a line of trees, and came to rest just behind a row of homes on Hill Street, nobody in the aircraft or on the ground was seriously injured.

One of the residents of Hill Street that evening was Mrs. Beverly P. Beasley, whose father, Lloyd Pitts, was quoted in my article since the plane actually came to rest just yards from his house. She wrote me a letter, telling about that dramatic evening and wanting to correct a few errors. Here's what she had to say:

"My name is Beverly Pitts Beasley, and I was one of the people in the house on Hill Street the night of the plane crash. Some of the information you have in your article is incorrect, as the left wing of the plane left orange marks six shingles over the double window where I was in bed reading the night it crashed."

Based on the newspaper accounts, I had said the plane never touched the houses on her street.

She continues: "Also I have photos we took of all the pinoak trees my father lost along with all the mud, foam, and awful odor that came from the crash."

Newspapers said the plane smashed into a row of pecan trees. The foam she mentions was the foamy stuff used by the firefighters to put out the flames, and the odor was the result of the burning aviation fuel and oil from the plane.

She continues: "Yes, it was the Good Lord's hand that kept that plane from coming right into my bedroom window that night, and it is definitely something I hope I never have to live through again. Thank you for your article — it is one memory still very strong in my mind."

Be on the lookout for further posts that will, I hope, include some of the photos that Beverly took of the crash site.

Oh, by the way, here's an aerial view of the crash site today (above). Hill Street runs diagonally to the right of the image. Ignore that little red "arrow" thing; Google put that on when I searched for Hill Street. It is NOT indicating the specific site of the crash. As far as I can tell, that would have been somewhere behind those three homes on Hill, between the houses and the bank building on Highway 51.

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and MBQ: Inside Memphis Business.  Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

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