Just after midnight on May 11, 1973, a twin-engine plane crashed in a wooded area about 400 feet from the airport in Beverly, Massachusetts. The two men aboard the plane both survived the crash. Richard Higgins, 30, the pilot, and his co-pilot, Carl Kokernak, 19, suffered internal injuries and neck and back injuries, according to newspaper reports at the time. Higgins was reportedly trying to land the Piper Azetc II in thick fog when the plane crased into treetops, leaving parts of the plane hanging in the treetops and strewn about the area.The print article has photos of the crash site and Popeye's, as well as Higgins' gripping account of the crash itself. It is not up on the WENews blog as of yet. Kudos to Ed King for bringing this out -- an uncanny story, this strange reunion.
In August, 2006 ... Kokernak and his wife were attending a flight school reunion in Portland... [they] got lost driving through the West End, and when they reached the corner of York and Brackett Street, Kokernak looked up and saw the tail of an airplane sticking out of the roof of Popeye's Ice House. Ater closer inspection, Kokernak realized that it was the tail of the plane whose crash he had miraculously survived on that foggy night more than three decades earlier.
"I had no idea it was there," said Kokernaut, who lives in Chesterfield, Virginia. The wreckage had been brought to a scrap yard near the Beverly Airport, where the tail was later purchased by the girlfriend of a previous owner of the Ice House, and installed in the roof while the owner, who was a merchant marine, was out to sea.
According to Kokernak, two other planes crashed in the same weather pattern that took down the Piper in which he was flying. Of the sixteen people involved in those accidents, he and Higgins were the only survivors.
The reunion that he was attending [in Portland] last year was for the flight school that had owned the airplane that he crashed in. He called the series of events "eerie."
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Eerie Discovery by West End News
In the March 23, 2007, issue of the West End News, Editor Ed King brought forth the bombshell answer to a question that has to a greater or lesser extent made Portlanders curious for years.