A few minutes after midnight on December 6, 1953, four F-84D jet aircraft of the Georgia Air National Guard 128th Fighter Bomber Squadron crashed on their approach to Dobbins Air Force Base near Marietta, Georgia. Recently, a historic marker was placed near this site, to mark the crash and the subsequent findings that changed aircraft instrumentation.
The fighters were returning from a routine weekend training flight to the Miami area when the pilots encountered unexpected weather and altitude awareness problems as they prepared to land at Dobbins AFB. All four pilots perished. No one on the ground was injured, although the impact destroyed the home of the Ernest Brooks family which, by chance, was not at home. After the accident, the United States Air Force changed the design of the altimeter, marking it easier to read. That change probably saved many lives over the time since the crash.
The Pilots were Captain Idom M. “Jim” Hodge Jr., 1st Lieutenant Samuel P, Dixon, Jr., 1st Lieutenant Elwood C. Kent, and 2nd Lieutenant William A. Tennent.
A full and excellent history of the crash, events leading up to it and those that followed, are in Ben Cole’s book, “Four Down on Old Peachtree Road.” It is a fascinating story about an event significant at its time, but since then pretty much lost to history. Ben Cole did an outstanding job of digging out details and retelling them in a way that holds the fascination of his readers.