WWII Plane Crash In Texas Claims 2 Lives

    October 23, 2013
    Jennifer Curra
    Comments are off for this post.

A plane crash happened on Wednesday around 11:40 a.m. in Galveston, Texas, claiming the lives of two passengers, and destroying a relic P-51 Mustang airplane from the World War II era in the process. Photos of the actual plane, which was called the “Galveston Gal”, and the wreckage have not been released due to the sensitive nature of the tragic event.

According to Petty Officer Steve Lehmann, there was a charter boat nearby where the captain alerted authorities to the crash. Unsure of the exact location at the time, the captain pointed officials to the vicinity of Chocolate Bay and Galveston Bay, where the bodies of the passengers were recovered. Reports claim that the plane crashed into an area of water that was four feet deep.

Lynn Lunsford of the Federal Aviation Administration said that the plane was under the ownership of the Lone Star Flight Museum out of Galveston; however, the pilot was not communicating with air-traffic controllers at the time of the accident.

A nearby boater, Jennifer Spaulding, spoke with KHOU.com about the sound of the crash.

“We saw the water spraying up in the air, but we never saw what it was. We never saw a plane go down or anything, so we didn’t think anything like a plane. We just figured it was a boat,” Jennifer Spaulding said.

No known cause has been found. State officials released the names of the pilot (51-year-old Keith Hibbett of Denton) and the passenger (66-year-old John Stephen Busby), but have not explained the circumstances surrounding this tragedy. Reports claim that the passenger – along with his wife – was believed to have been visiting Texas from the United Kingdom as part of their 41st wedding anniversary. The ride in the ill-fated plane had cost him roughly $2,000.

[Images Via Wikimedia Commons And Courtesy of USAAF, Jwnabd, and AFHRA]
  • wilhelm

    The top most aircraft picture is of an A-36 Apache, not of a P-51 Mustang. They are related aircraft but the P-51 was a fighter and the A-36 was made for ground attack.

    • John

      Sorry Wilhelm, top most is an early Mustang. Note the lack of air brakes, clearly visible on an Apache…

    • Bob

      You are right,Wilhelm,as this was my dads plane in WW II. Thnaks for the correction. BTW John, Check the canopy design. Not P-51 but A-36. Dual 50Cals on wing and color. Also I have had a ride in a 2 seat P-51, Thanks to Jack Rouse and the Old Crow.

    • Grandpaw

      The top photo is drfinitely an A-36. Google it.

      • Anton 7719

        Nope, The XP-51 had the same canopy design in the early test models…This is not an A-36, because it does not have the Dive flaps…and understand that the A-36 was developed from the 51.


        • Dave Harrell

          Aircraft Pictured is an Early P-51(NA-91) with 4 Long Barreled Hispano 20mm guns,no nose guns installed.



      • Jack

        You’re right John that picture is P-40 similar to the one in the Flying Tigers based in China.

        • Jack

          My bad John IT IS an A-36

  • Brian Pierson

    The P-51 Fighter is a single seater. How can two people be in it?

    • Robert Staton

      With the advent of new technology and much smaller radio’s the old radio which was located behind the pilot’s seat has been removed and replaced with the smaller more modern radio which allowed for the installation of a rear seat for a passenger.

    • Mike Nicholson

      With the advent of modern electronics, the WWII era radio behind the pilot and the auxiliary fuel tank that also sat behind him are removed which allows for a seat to be placed in that space. While smaller than the normal seat, it still allows a reasonable amount of room for a passenger.

      • Roy Bradshaw

        The Galveston Gal flown out of Galveston to take people for a ride was actually a trainer so it was built with two seats. The plane discussed here was painted the same way her WWII namesake was. The Galveston Gal that flew Bomber escort in WWII was a single seat combat plane.

    • Dave Coke

      P51 aircraft normally have radio equipment where the rear seat would be. Most, if not all, P51s in private hands have had the military radio equipment removed and a rear seat installed. It has been this way for many, many years. Nothing new or out of the ordinary.

  • Dave Coke

    It looks like a P51B to me…the rest are P51Ds.

    • Ken brewer

      If it has 3 blades, which I think it does, it is a P-51A, which had the non-supercharged Allison engine.There appears to be an intake behind the prop on top of the fuselage, similar to the P-40, which would indicate the Allison. I need some enlightenment on the A-36 Apache. The P-36 Buffalo had a radial engine, but I’ve never seen an A-36, and I was at almost every Confederate Air Force airshow, starting with their first, until they moved to Midland, not to mention working for them a few times.

  • Ken brewer

    I did check it and found an A-36 on U-tube. Can’t really tell from the picture if this has the over-wing flaps, but there is no obvious difference in the canopy of the P-51A and the A-36. Thanks, Wilhelm, because I did not know about the A-36 designation.

  • Dave Harrell

    The design was very similar to the Mustang I and P-51A. The powerplant was the Allison V-1710-87. The A-36 was a dive-bomber so the addition of hard points for two 500 lb bombs and dive brakes to slow the fast acceleration of the P-51 in a dive were added. The belly scoop was now fixed at the front. Armament was 2 guns in the nose and 4 in the wings, all .50 calibur.

    The dive brakes were operated hydraulically and located on the top and bottom of each wing outboard of the guns. Plan was that they limit the dive speed to 250 mph but in practice the angle of dive was reduced to 70 degrees because the high stress of pull-out from a higher angle.

    The hard points for the bombs were also capable of holding 75 gallon drop tanks for extended range. The top speed of the A-36 was down from added weight to about 358 mph at 5,000 feet (without external stores).

  • pat

    I believe it is a B-1B.

  • http://www.rotondolaw.com/ Personal Injury Lawyer in Toronto

    I agree with Grandpaw . Its A-36.