|SNAKES ON A
Dec. 9, 1969 - 11:53pm
On the above date and time, a C-46 cargo plane made a forced landing in the parking area of Al Lopez field. It came to rest against a utility pole, just 500 feet from a house which was across Himes Ave. Note the bleachers and fence at the left wing tip
Stories circulated amongst the locals that it carried reptiles and that snakes escaped to roam the neighborhood until they were rounded up. Part of this is true; read on!
Tampa Tribune article, Dec. 10, 1969, by Thom Wilkerson, Staff Writer
A DC3 cargo plane leaving for Miami crash landed shortly before midnight last night on the property at Al Lopez field just off Dale Mabry Highway. No one was injured and property damage appeared negligible, but in coming down the twin-engine transport clipped power lines and large parts of the west side of Tampa were in darkness.
A gas tank was punctured and high octane aviation fuel spread about the aircraft but there was no fire and Tampa firemen moved to lessen the danger by spreading foam. The fuel was draining into a ditch.The belly landing was soft, prompting one observer to say "it looked as if somebody set it down there with a helicopter."
Airport officials said the crew of three had just unloaded cargo at Tampa International and had taken off for Miami. The plane had just left the runway when for a reason unknown the pilot had to make the forced landing in the driving wind and rain.
Police Sgt. Ed Simmons said none of the crewmen were hurt. They went back to the airport to contact their employer. The company owning the aircraft was unknown last night as was the identity of the crewmen. The company is believed to be a Ft. Lauderdale firm.
Police moved to close off the crash area because of the gas and fumes and took steps to handle traffic difficulties caused by the power failure. The path of the landing brought the plane down across Dale Mabry and the circumstance again caused observers to comment on the pilot's skill or luck. The plane came to rest near Himes Avenue. Both wings were damaged. One wing was about 10 yards from the fence around the baseball field and the other was resting against a power pole. The power pole was not damaged and apparently the slide ended just at that point. Several signs around the area were knocked down.
No one was allowed near the plane. Police blocked Himes from Buffalo Avenue to Tampa Bay Blvd. Gas was still leaking from the tanks after 1 a.m.