Piatt Street Plane Crash

Courtesy photo

Retired Wichita Fire Chief Larry Garcia died on Tuesday morning. He was 81 years old. Chief Garcia was the longest serving city of Wichita employee, working in the department for nearly 50 years. Recently retired Fire Chief Larry Blackwell remembers Chief Garcia as a leader and a mentor.

"Very compassionate and caring and, in fact, one of the last things he said to the department was 'Never get tired of doing good,' and with that, he completed his retirement ceremony and went out the door," Blackwell says. "It's been 10 years since he retired but we think about him every day."

Carla Eckels

A public ceremony is planned for Friday afternoon in Wichita to mark the 50th anniversary of the Piatt Street plane crash.

As KMUW’s Deborah Shaar reports, Wichita’s mayor issued an official Proclamation during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Mayor Carl Brewer designated Friday, January 16, 2015 as the Piatt Street Plane Crash 50th Year Remembrance.

“I call upon the people of Wichita and McConnell Air Force Base to mourn and to give tribute to those who lost their lives," Mayor Brewer says. "To honor those who violently fought the fires to rescue the living.”

Carla Eckels

Friday is the 50th anniversary of the Piatt Street Plane Crash in Wichita.

On January 16, 1965, a Boeing tanker filled with 31,000 gallons of jet fuel took off from McConnell Air Force Base and within 4 minutes, nose-dived into a predominantly black neighborhood – a few blocks west of Wichita State University.

It’s considered the worst aviation disaster in Kansas’s history, killing all 7 airmen aboard the U-S Air Force KC-135 fuel tanker and 23 civilians on the ground.

Carla Eckels / KMUW

This month marks the 50th anniversary of a KC-135 crashing into a predominantly African American neighborhood in northeast Wichita. This was more than just a neighborhood with a particular racial makeup, however. It represented the postwar suburban dream for Wichita’s African American community.

Carla Eckels

A memorial service commemorating the 49th anniversary of the Piatt Street Plane Crash will take place Thursday afternoon at Piatt Park in Wichita.

The service will begin at 1pm at the corner of 20th and Piatt Street and a documentary about the crash will air on KPTS on Thursday at 8pm.

On January 16 1965, a Boeing fuel tanker filled with 31 thousand gallons of jet fuel, took off from McConnell Air Force Base and nose-dived into the northeast Wichita neighborhood.

All of the seven crew members and 23 residents on the ground were killed.