Sep 29

Air crash kills two on Cuesta campus

1972-04-10-plane-crash1.jpgApril 9, 1972

Both Cal Poly and Cuesta College had active airfield runways at one time. I recall having a conversation with a pilot who said that the instructions for the Cal Poly runway said to beware of wandering livestock. Poly’s runway was near the Aeronautical unit now the baseball field. The Camp San Luis Obispo airfield next to Cuesta College is still used by the National Guard for helicopters and is between the campus and the creek. A radio controlled airplane club used to have permission to use the runway in the mid -1980′s but it was revoked when the consequences of a manned-unmanned collision were considered.

Tragedy struck the Cuesta Campus in 1972. Quoting from the April 10, 1972 story:

Air crash kills two on campus

Two men were killed instantly Sunday about 4:20 p.m. when their single engine monoplane crashed on the new Cuesta College campus.
Victims were the pilot Richard Race, 50, of Fresno and Michael A. Nolan, 49, of 1140 Montalban St. San Luis Obispo.
They reportedly had just returned from a National Guard meeting at Fort Irwin near Barstow. It was not definitely determined whether the plane was taking off or was attempting to land when it ran out of runway space.
1972-04-10-plane-crash.jpgThe National Guard plane, based in Fresno, struck a frame building used as a warehouse at the end of the runway and sheared off the left wing. The craft then veered toward the creek. The right wing caught in a pepper tree and the fuselage landed in the creek upside down and caught fire.
Both bodies were burned.
The crash site is near the old National Guard gymnasium, still used as a gym by the college, and west of the college’s new physical education building and tennis courts.
A team of Army and National Guard experts was due to begin an investigation today.

Lt. Col. Nolan was buried with full military honors at the San Luis Obispo Odd Fellows Cemetery as about 200 guardsmen paid tribute.

Photos were by Wayne Nicholls


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