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George H. Burgess
First Lieutenant, United States Army
PILOT IS KILLED, 2 PASSENGERS BURN TO DEATH
Army Aviator and Newspapermen Are Victims of Air Accident 
En Route to Selfridge Field
Engine Trouble Causes Accident
Charred Bodied Of Trio Found Strapped In Machine When Fire Department Arrives

NEW SALEM, Pennsylvania, October 16, 1925 – An Army aviator and two newspapermen lost their lives when the plane of Lieutenant George H. Burgess fell near here late Friday.

Burgess was instantly killed, Maurice Hutton, Aviation Editor of the Dayton Daily Herald and Vern Timmerman, a photographer for the same newspaper, were burned to death.

The three were flying to the Army Aviation Field at Selfridge Field, Michigan, when the crash came.  New Salem is 42 miles south of Pittsburgh.

Lieutenant Burgess was crushed to death by the engine of the plane, as the machine caught fire, and the two Dayton men, strapped to their seats and unable to move, were burned to death with no chance to escape.

As the plane flew westward between Uniontown and New Salem, it faltered.  Engine trouble caused the machine to sputter and dip.  A second plane, seemingly aware of the trouble, kept close.

A half mile south of New Salem, witnessed said, the machine struck a tree on a hill but careened crazily on it course for another half mile at a height of about 100 feet.

Then there was an explosion and the plane burst into flames.  It struck a hill and crashed into a barbed wire fence.  The chassis with everything a mass of flame bumped its way around the field.

The New Salem Fire Department was first on the scene but was called too late to give any assistance.

The bodies of the three were strapped in the machine, charred almost beyond recognition, and it was evident that the explosion and the fire had prevented the escape of the trio from the damaged plane.  They are now in an undertaking parlor at New Salem, awaiting word from relatives.


ABSOLVES DEAD AVIATOR
Coroner’s Jury Holds Burgess Blameless in Fatal Crash

UNIONTOWN, Pennsylvania, October 17, 1925 – The airplane crash at New Salem near here yesterday in which Lieutenant George J. Burgess, Maurice Hitton, Aviation Editor, and Verne Timmerman, photographer of the Dayton (Ohio) Herald, were killed was due to engine trouble and Lieutenant Burgess was in no way to blame, according to the verdict of the Coroner’s Jury today.

One witness said the plane was about 100 feet from the gr9und when he observed it.  As it dropped, one wing hit a fence, the machine turning completely over and bursting into flame.
 

Born in 1893 he was an early Army aviator.

He was killed in the line of duty in 1925 and lies buried in the midst of some of the casualties of the crash of the airship USS Shenandoah in Section 3 of Arlington National Cemetery. 

Webmaster: Michael Robert Patterson


Updated: 8 November 2000  Updated: 22 February 2003 Updated: 20 May 2004 Updated: 23 October 2007

GH Burgess Gravesite PHOTO October 2007
Photo By M. R. Patterson, October 2007

GH Burgess Gravesite PHOTO
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 24 April 2004