Levelland Air Crash Claims Three Sunday
Two Killed In Dickens Car Crash; 13
Other Persons Are Hurt In Mishaps
Five persons were killed, 13 others injured Sunday in South
Plains accidents, Three of them, including two young women, died in the flames of a crashed airplane Sunday afternoon near Levelland airport, Two others died after an early Sunday collision of two automobiles near Dickens.
Those w/ho died in the plane crash were:
. WILBUR ELMON FINLEY,.21, the pilot, of Levelland
. RITA FAY SHIRLEY, 20, of Levelland
. RUBY SHIRLEY, her sister, 39, of Levelland
Dead in the car collision were: JESSIE LEE (Jake) TUCKER, 34, of Levelland. LORENZO GUTIEVEZ, 39, a Spur Mexican.
BODIES OF AIRPLANE VICTIMS ARE BURNED
LEVELLAND, Oct, 20 (Special) >Three, persons were killed, two of
them women, when an airplane crashed at 3:40 o'clock Sunday afternoon approximately a mile south of Leyelland's Municipal airport. The bodies., were burned.
They were Wilbur Elmon Finley, 21, the pilot.
- Rita Fay Shirley, 20.
- Ruby Shirley, 39.
Had Just Taken Off
The 165 hp four-place Fairchild 24 cabin plane had just taken off, and
apparently "stalled out" from approximately 250 feel. It fell in fast and landed upright on level terrain, washing out its landing gear but not flipping,
Ironically, however, it (scooted along the ground through n fence, and quickly was enveloped
Sparks generated by friction of the plane and the fence possibly caused the. tanks to be set afire, it was theorized by
Frank Lawlis, port manager and owner of the $7,000 plane which had flown only 110 hours before
Believed To Have Stalled
The opinion .apparently was reflected by Bobby Taylor, who had taken. off
just ahead of the Fairchild and from the cockpit of his Cub cruiser saw the plane
occupied by Finley and the Misses Shirley nose up sharply from an estimated 250. feet and plunge lo
the ground. Taylor also was of opinion that the Fairchild stalled out.
. C. C. Bales and C. W, Swan, employees of Vernon's dairy, of. Levelland,
were in vicinity of the crash, but could do nothing .to save the victims. Levelland Fire department also found il
could not save those trapped In the plane. The crash was the first fatal crackup
in history of the Levelland port, Lawlis told Lois Vestal, Levelland newspaperman.
Flown About 75 Hours
Lawlis said Finley had flown approximately 75 hours, about 50 of which was solo time. He had commenced' flying
after his discharge from armed service in World War II, under the GI Bill of Rights Flight Training program and, after obtaining his private license, had. enrolled for a commercial flying course. He had temporarily discontinued the commercial Instruction course, and had rented the plane he
flew Sunday. Lawlis said he expected a CAA inspector lo arrive today for an investigation of the crash,
Bodies were taken to Plains funeral home of Levelland. Funeral services will be read at 3 o'clock this afternoon from the
First Baptist.church for Finley. Ernest West, minister of the Austin Street Church of Christ, will officiate. Burial will be in Levelland cemetery. Finley
is survived. by his parents, Mr., and Mrs., T. E. Finley; a sister, Allene Finley, a graduate
of Texas Tech and a brother James Finley. All live in Levelland.
Funeral services for the Misses Shirley will be read at 2:30 o'clock Tuesday afternoon from Clauene Baptist, church, nine .miles south of Levelland.
The Shirley family had lived here approximately 20 years. Survivors
are the parents, Mr. and Mrs. J, M. Shirley; three brothers, Glen of Levelland, Clifford of California, and Jack of Levelland; four sisters, Mrs. Gladys Storey of California, Mrs. Edna
Blackwell of New Mexico, Mrs. Norma Palmer oĢ Sanderson, Texas, and Miss Edith
Shirley of Levelland.
[courtesy of Leona Henderson]