Operation Sleigh Ride: The Disaster Of Dec. 20th 1952

sleigh ride

Perhaps you’ve never heard of this, but you should know about it. One of the worst air disasters occurred on this date 60 years ago. We lost 87 servicemen that day.

I was visiting my mom and dad in Washington State this past weekend when I learned about this disaster. I took the picture above which is the newly erected memorial to our lost and injured servicemen of that fateful morning. They were just trying to go home to their families for Christmas.

One of the world’s worst air disasters occurred in December of 1952 and involved veterans who were stationed stateside and veterans returning home from the Korean War and Far East Command. At that time, the Air Force had a program called “Operation Sleigh Ride”, which brought servicemen home in time for the holidays. The lucky passengers’ names were drawn by lot number. This particular flight was scheduled for Texas and points east. The accident took place at 6:27 a.m. on December 20. There were 105 passengers and 10 crew members. Eighty-two passengers and 5 crew members were killed when the plane crashed shortly after takeoff.

The accident took place at Larson Air Field. The base was geographically located five miles northwest of the city of Moses Lake, Washington, fourteen miles southwest of Ephrata, Washington, and seventeen miles south of Soap Lake, Washington. Larson AFB closed in June of 1966. The plane took off from the runway, climbed to about 100 feet, started to turn left, and then plunged back to earth. The plane shattered into pieces of metal in a fiery crash.

You can read all about it and see the pictures here.

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2 Responses to Operation Sleigh Ride: The Disaster Of Dec. 20th 1952

  1. Diane Grogan Wall says:

    Thank you for posting this article. What a wonderful memorial to remember and learn from this tragic event. My Uncle Donald H. Grogan was one of the fortunate to survive in the wreckage. His entire body was badly burned and remained in the hospital for many months, metal plates and devices were surgically implanted for him to walk again. It took a lifetime to heal~ He seldom talked about this day with his family. He remained a quiet man and an Uncle that I am most proud to remember today.

  2. notamobster says:

    Welcome to The Real Revo, Diane. We do hope you’ll stick around.