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50 Years Later, Rick Stephens Is On A 500-Mile Bike Ride To Honor Teammates Lost In The Wichita State Plane Crash

50 Years Later, Rick Stephens Is On A 500-Mile Bike Ride To Honor Teammates Lost In The Wichita State Plane Crash 2020-10-05Leave a comment

electrical bike 50 Years Later, Rick Stephens Is On A 500-Mile Bike Experience To Honor Teammates Misplaced In The Wichita State Aircraft Crash

Fifty years in the past, on a transparent October afternoon, a plane crashed on a tree-studded mountainside above Interstate 70 close to Silver Plume, killing practically the complete first string of the Wichita State College Shockers soccer workforce. 

A Denver TV reporter described the scene as melted gold soccer helmets and cleats strewn over the burning floor, and a “solemn silence” in what he known as a “holocaust of loss of life.”  

Twenty-two-year-old Rick Stephens, WSU’s noseguard and certainly one of solely 9 survivors, was thrown from the aircraft because it belly-landed. He survived as a result of he was ejected away from an ensuing explosion. 

Simply earlier than the crash, Stephens had left his seat to test the cockpit, sensing that what he was seeing out the window didn’t appear proper.

“We have been on even elevation with previous mine shafts and rusted tools. After I received to the cockpit I noticed the pilots have been in a panic mode making an attempt to find out a attainable passage-way via, given our elevation,” Stephens informed Colorado Issues. “I turned and there was no blue sky. I felt a pointy financial institution to the left or proper. The wings have been hitting the timber. I used to be knocked unconscious. The subsequent factor that I knew I used to be exterior of the plane some 25 yards and spitting out gravel and tooth, making an attempt to make some sense of what had occurred.”

Stephens’ leg was damaged and his hip was dislocated. He watched from yards away, helpless because the aircraft caught hearth, killing his teammates who have been trapped by their seatbelts and beneath the wreckage. Three building employees who noticed the crash whereas they have been engaged on the close by Eisenhower Tunnel carried Stephens down the mountainside.

“They risked their lives,” he stated. “The aircraft was starting to change into engulfed in flames. They picked me up and carried me 100 yards. It was very troublesome transferring in that terrain downhill.”

Some gamers have been in a position to crawl out of a gap within the aircraft and stroll to the freeway the place stunned drivers in oncoming automobiles took them to space hospitals.

r mDavid Zalubowski/AP
Wreckage from the aircraft, which was certainly one of two getting used to take the Shockers to play a soccer sport in opposition to Utah State College in Logan, Utah, remains to be scattered on the mountain high practically 50 years after the crash near the Eisenhower Tunnel.

On Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, Stephens, 72, began a 500-mile bicycle experience from Wichita, Kansas to the Eisenhower Tunnel. His aim is to achieve it by Oct. 10. From there, he’ll then hike to the crash web site with family of a few of these killed within the crash to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the accident. His goal is to lift cash for a program that pays for descendants of the victims to attend WSU on scholarship.

“There’s a memorial scholarship that funds tuition and a few assist for the survivors’ youngsters, in addition to those that perished. So we’ll have a chance to realize some assist for that scholarship, which each of my youngsters and others benefited from.”

The Second Aircraft Took A Totally different Route

The WSU soccer workforce was on two planes, named for the college colours: the Gold aircraft carried the primary workforce starters, workforce assist and boosters who had gained the journey to Utah State for promoting probably the most quantity of tickets. 

The Black aircraft carried coaches and the second string gamers. After a cease in Denver’s Stapleton airport for refueling, the Black aircraft flew north, whereas the Gold aircraft’s pilots made the deadly resolution to take the scenic route west previous Georgetown towards Loveland Go.

“It’s an incredible, huge enhance in elevation which everyone aware of the world is aware of,” WSU historian Craig Minor stated in a Kansas Public television documentary in regards to the crash. “So of all locations to fly, …that was perhaps the worst (place).”

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