On March 18th, 1942 at 10:44 a.m. four P-39F’s took off from Wayne County Airport (now Detroit Metropolitan Airport) on a ferry flight to Louisville, Kentucky. The pilots were all 2nd Lieutenants in the Army Air Corps Reserve. Armel Kennedy, Eugene Anderson, and Earl Houser were being led by their flight leader, Edward Saunders. He was the most experienced pilot with 50 hours more flight time than the others, however, all had less than six months experience.
Exact details about the accident were not known, however, approximately 35 minutes after take off the aircraft encountered deteriorating weather conditions, quoted in the crash reports as a “blinding blizzard type snow storm”, around Lima, Ohio. It is believed the flight leader, in an effort to lead his flight out of the blizzard took up a course heading in a northeasterly direction and eventually flew into gradually rising terrain.
Regardless of how it happened, we do know that at around 11:21 a.m. all four aircraft crashed into the ground and all four pilots died. All four crashes happened about 6.5 miles east of downtown Lima, Ohio and all four were within about a 1/2 mile radius of each other. One of the planes went nose first into a farmer’s field, two others possibly collided in mid air before crashing into two separate farm fields on opposite sides of a road, while the fourth plane crashed into a wooded area south of other three.
On June 24th, 2017 my son Paxton and I searched the location where 2nd Lt. Kennedy's plane crashed with the permission of the property owner. He was aware of the crash and of the other three crashes, in fact he's done a lot of research on his own about all four crashes due to his affiliation with the Allen County Veterans Memorial Foundation. Interestingly the property owner's name is David Paxton, his last name is my son's first name! You can see the results of our search here:
The crash site location of one of the remaining three aircraft is known but was not searchable this time of year due to it being a planted, muddy wheat field. We hope to do more research to nail down the location of the other two aircraft, however, casual research shows that the sites may have been partially built over by new developments.