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12 April 1952 Spokane "Spokesman's Review" article

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Old June 2nd 07, 11:54 AM posted to alt.binaries.pictures.aviation
Don Pyeatt
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Default 12 April 1952 Spokane "Spokesman's Review" article

This man is still alive and was interviewed recently by a reporter from the
Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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Old June 2nd 07, 02:56 PM posted to alt.binaries.pictures.aviation
Ray O'Hara[_2_]
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Default 12 April 1952 Spokane "Spokesman's Review" article

"Don Pyeatt" wrote in message
This man is still alive and was interviewed recently by a reporter from

Fort Worth Star-Telegram.


On a bone-chilling, miserably windy day in 1952, Capt. Fred C. Seals Jr.
fell out of his airplane.

Right out the side of the C-46 Commando.

Four hundred feet off the snow-covered ground, during the Korean War.

Improbably, Seals lived through the experience. Exactly how he survived led
to the story's retelling on Ripley's Believe It or Not. To this day, old men
stop him and ask him if it was true.

Seals lived for one very simple reason: He fell right back in the side of
the C-46 Commando.

"There's many a time I've thought, 'Why in the Sam Hill am I here?' " he
said. "By the grace of God."

The story of this Texas native is so bizarre that only the most gullible
listener could ever believe a shred of it. But the amazed crew who saw the
unintentional rescue told their commanders, who told Air Force information
officers, who told reporters.

Seals, then the executive officer of a squadron in Seoul, became a bit of a
reluctant celebrity, thrown into the role by the vagaries of the wind and a
6-foot hole in the side of a plane.

"It became like hearing about some other guy," he said. "It didn't even seem
like me."

Seals is 83 years old now, a retired colonel and wing commander who lives in
Norman, Okla.

A 1944 graduate of Texas A&M University, he saw three wars from the front
row -- as a B-17 pilot over Germany during World War II, as a recalled pilot
for the Korean War and as a cargo pilot flying out of Da Nang during the
Vietnam War.

He even flew B-29 Superfortresses over Germany during the Berlin Airlift in
1948 and '49, just in case the Russians invaded West Berlin.

But Seals will always be known for a mission in March 1952 in South Korea to
resupply troops manning radar sites near the 38th parallel.

The story might well have quietly slipped into the recesses of weird
history, except for an Air Force veteran who recently donated his newspaper
collection to Don Pyeatt, a Fort Worth man who serves as historian of the
B-36 Peacemaker Museum group.

"I spent a day scanning them," Pyeatt said. "That article was included on
the edge of another one. It caught my eye. What a story."


The wind, howling at 50 mph and dropping the temperature below zero, pitched
the twin-engine airplane up and down, back and forth, and kept blowing the
pallets thrown out the side of the plane way off course.

The crew in the back got so sick they couldn't keep working. Seals
unstrapped his seat belt, told the co-pilot, the late Walt Dyer, a former
Dallas police detective, to take over and walked to the back of the plane to
kick the cargo out himself.

"The plane is bouncing 15, 20 feet at a time and fishtailing," Seals said.
"I'm trying to hang on. Before the co-pilot could give the green light to
drop the cargo, the plane dropped and fishtailed and it went right out from
under me."

Seals remembers two thoughts he had very clearly as he looked below and saw
only the ground -- "Watch out for the horizontal stabilizer," and "Which way
is North Korea?"

"Then I'm back in the plane on my hands and knees," he said. "Now I'm

With Seals safe for the moment, the plane plummeted again, and a pallet of
fuel oil dropped on his left foot, breaking it.

To this day, Seals is unsure how long he hung in the air -- obviously just a
few seconds but "long enough for me to orient myself."

He also isn't sure exactly how it happened, except to guess that the
airplane dropped and fishtailed again and "scooped me up."

As the amazed Army crew members watched, Seals stumbled back into the
cockpit and scared Dyer, who'd been told over the radio that his commander
had fallen out.

"After the news got out, I got cards and letters from people all over the
world, men I'd served with who wondered if I was the same Fred C. Seals," he

"Yes, that's me."


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