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Memorial Set For 49th Anniversary Of Piatt Street Plane Crash

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.

"It was just flames going everywhere," said Phyllis Peete, who was 18 at the time of the crash. "You could hear the sirens and the ambulance and everyone coming and then they came with the body bags and everything and was lining people up but it was just a really, really scary scene."

The plane reportedly went down due to engine failure. Peete says the tragedy still affected the neighborhood for years.

"Everyone was nervous from then on," she said. "When you see a plane coming or going by out to the base."

A black granite monument was erected in 2007 with the victims names inscribed. Peete, along with many others, purchased bricks on the walkway to help support the monument.

Carla Eckels is Director of Organizational Culture at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.