“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Wood Lake in Cherry County, Nebraska — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Midair Collision of P-47 "Thunderbolt" Fighter Planes, 1944

Midair Collision of P-47 "Thunderbolt" Fighter Planes, 1944 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joan Shurtliff, October 5, 2014
1. Midair Collision of P-47 "Thunderbolt" Fighter Planes, 1944 Marker
Inscription.  At 10:45 a.m. on February 5, 1944, 1st Lt. John B. Beatty of Sandusky, OH, and 2d Lt. Earnest W. Fanslau of Mantua, NJ took to the air from the Ainsworth Army Air Field in two P-47 "Thunderbolt" fighter planes for an instrument training flight. Lt. Fanslau's canopy was covered so he could fly solely by instruments, while Lt. Beatty flew nearby as Fanslau's observer. During the flight Lt. Fanslau made an unexpected right turn that Lt. Beatty could not avoid. Rancher Everett Morris did not see the P-47s collide but he heard the impact and observed the planes falling from the sky southeast of his ranch buildings. Lt. Beatty's P-47 went into a flat spin, fell almost straight down, and landed on its back with very little scattering of the wreckage. Lt. Fanslau's P-47 caught fire and exploded in midair, spreading debris over a considerable area. Both pilots were killed. The two crash sites are within half a mile of each other in the Nebraska Sandhills, approximately 15 miles south of Wood Lake near Cherry County's eastern border.
Erected 2010 by American Legion Post 202; Sandhills Area Foundation; Cherry
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County Residents; Nebraska State Historical Society. (Marker Number 483.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Air & SpaceWar, World II. In addition, it is included in the Nebraska State Historical Society series list.
Location. 42° 38.111′ N, 100° 14.24′ W. Marker is in Wood Lake, Nebraska, in Cherry County. Marker is on U.S. 20 at milepost 221 east of Main Street, on the right when traveling west. This marker is located in the hamlet of Wood Lake (pop. 63). Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Wood Lake NE 69221, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Regarding Midair Collision of P-47 "Thunderbolt" Fighter Planes, 1944. According to his obituary included in the 1944 Obituary Notebook (found in the genealogical collection of the Sandusky Library), John B. Beatty, Jr., enlisted in the Army Air Corps on January 22, 1941. He graduated flight training on November 10, 1942 from the Army Air Base at Lake Charles, Louisiana, received his wings and the rank of Second Lieutenant. He was later promoted to First Lieutenant. Lieutenant Beatty served in the Caribbean Sea area and the Panama Canal Zone. Returning to Beggs Field in Texas, he was subsequently transferred to Ainsworth Army Base. Lieutenant Beatty was buried in the Sand Hill Cemetery, in Erie County, Ohio.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on October 7, 2014, by Joan Shurtliff of Seward, Nebraska. This page has been viewed 504 times since then and 9 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on October 7, 2014, by Joan Shurtliff of Seward, Nebraska. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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Feb. 28, 2021