As It Was: Bomber Pilot Dies on Training Mission Crash Near Klamath Falls, Ore.

May 30, 2018

In 1944 during the Second World War, two Navy TBF Avenger bombers were flying over the Klamath Marsh area about 70 miles north of Klamath Falls, Ore., on a training mission from Pasco, Wash., to San Diego.

One of the planes had engine trouble and suffered damage when it landed safely for all aboard in the marsh.  The other plane, nicknamed “Betty the Bomber,” flipped over while landing when a wheel caught in the marsh grass. Ensign Richard Baker was killed, but the rest of the crew survived.

Historical records indicate at least one of the planes was moved two to three miles from the crash site after other pilots flying overhead spotted them.  

A book written about Bill Kitt, a rancher in the area at the time, gives some of the same details, but says that both wrecked planes were given to rancher Bill Gouldin.  By this account, Gouldin dragged the planes out of the meadow and hid them under some trees.  He later took them apart and salvaged what he could use on his ranch. 

A piece of Betty the Bomber’s fuselage remains partially buried today near the marsh refuge headquarters.
 

Sources: Juillerat, Lee. "Marsh gives up WWII plane crash remains." Herald and News, 11 Aug. 2013 [Klamath Falls, OR] https://www.heraldandnews.com/./marsh./article_a0f22016-0245-11e3-b216-0019. Accessed 5 Apr. 2018; "Betty the Bomber" keeps her history a secret." Mail Tribune, 13 Aug. 2013 [Medford, Oregon] www.mailtribune.com/article/20130813/news/308130315. Accessed 5 Apr. 2018.