North Carolina People, Places, and Things-May 12
I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.
In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special.
I live in Robeson County, NC and on the western edge of our county lies an airport called Laurinburg/Maxton Airport.
Several years ago I read a book by Marv Levy called “Where Else Would You Rather Be”. In that book Marv Levy talks about that airport. Marv Levy was the coach of the Buffalo Bills and is 90 years old. He led a fantastic life and I encourage you to read about him.
As I read the book I learned that during WW II not only was Marv Levy stationed at Laurinburg Maxton Army Air Base (today called Laurinburg/ Maxton Airport) but that it had a prominent role in our military history especially as it pertained to glider training. The airport origins go back to 1942 while America was in the midst of WW II.
Two of North Carolina’s worst air disasters involved Laurinburg Maxton Army Air Base (LMAAB).
On June 7, 1943 barely a year after the Air Base opened tragedy struck. One of two C-47 transports that took off from Pope Field (Fayetteville, NC) about 3 a.m., on flight to LMAAB crashed before it could land.
Photo of C-47
Encountering a thunderstorm, one plane turned back. Search party was dispatched about 5 a.m. to look for the missing plane. The wreckage and bodies of all aboard were found within sight of LMAAB. The crew of four and 16 passengers were all killed.
Three months later after the C-47 crash one of state’s deadliest military aircraft accident happened the morning of Sept. 20, 1943, at (LMAAB), two miles from Maxton, NC. On a run to shuttle passengers, cargo, and official mail daily between “Pope Field” and Stout Field in Indianapolis an Army transport crashed after take off.
The plane burst into flames in woods near the end of the runway, and all 25 aboard were killed. It was also the first fatality at the base, which had been operating for more than a year. LMAAB was an installation of the First Troop Carrier Command, and was used for training air units including airborne infantry, glider pilots, and paratroopers.