July 10-11

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2011: July: July 10-11
Laurium Accident, 1948    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo from Tom Secor

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 09:43 am:

Over a decade ago we introduced "Cam Notes", this daily discussion with the Pasty Cam photo of the day. I started a conversation in December 2000 about the old airport in Laurium. If you follow that thread you will learn about an accident there in 1948 that took the lives of two men, while one mysteriously walked away. Several years later I met that survivor - veteran pilot Tom Secor - and I encouraged him to post his recollection of the incident. On the 4th of July last week Tom Secor passed away. Here is an reprint of his account of the accident, and how it altered his life:

Because I still get remarks, reminders and questions --- after 56 years --- this is to clarify and correct the comments that have been posted here in the archives ( dated 13th/14th December 2000 ) .

I am Tom Secor, living in my boyhood home in Centemental Heights just north of Calumet,Michigan . I am an honorably discharged NAVAL AVIATOR [ LTJG, with a Commercial Pilot License ratings for single & multi-engine, land & sea, unlimited horse-Power] Was separated from Service in September 1946 , on a Friday and started at MTU on the following Monday, in the SCHOOL of FORESTRY.

I met Dr. MCClure when I needed reading glasses. We became friends, chatted about flying, etc. Flew numerous times with him in his ski-equipped Aerocoupe plane on area family-flights around the U P. I had no qualms about his flying skills at that time. Early in 1948 he asked me to be his pilot/copilot for a flight to Bakersfield, California, with his family as passengers .I immediately involved myself in an aircraft familiarization program during the time- period that Ed Shmeltz [A&E-FBO at the Laurium airport] was tweaking the Bonanza for the trip.

This flight was to be a test of the installation of a directional gyro .The day was clear and nice. Bob and Ed were up-front and I was belted-in the middle of the back seat so that I could observe the instrument panel and the vacuum test gear that Ed was using . The takeoff was in a North/Northwest direction and everything appeared to be normal ; no sun in our eyes , no wet grass, etc, etc.

------- I DONíT REMEMBER ANYTHING ELSE ! ! -------

As you can see from the pictures , we hit the hanger square-on. I was declared dead by the coroner and covered with that black blanket that is on the wing. I crossed-over into the 4th dimension and was met there by 3 Spirit Guides - which is another facit of this occasion which I am willing to discuss, if requested.

I woke-up/came-to my senses about 8 weeks later in the Laurium Hospital with a contra -coup Brain Concussion, lacerated left temple (torn open) ,partially Paralyzed left side, Diplopia, Tinnitus and obviously----Brain damage.( I was 24 years old ). I recovered enough to take the Summer Surveying Course at Tech with my C/L/K buddys. Dropped out of Tech and went to Minneapolis to work-out my problems and subsequently had an extensive series of work experiences in an attempt to recver my full Functioning abilities.

------------------ IT TOOK 30 YEARS ----------------------

Graduated from MICHIGAN STATE UNIV (in Forest Products)/ worked as an Engineer At General Electric, Ohio/ as an Engineer at Lockheed,Georgia / as an Engineer at Lockheed,California / as Sales Engineer at FMC,San Jose ,Ca plus numerous other types of positions. Started my own successful Engineering Consulting Business [ Packaging/Handling/Haz Mats] in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In all those years, I talked with many pilots who had flown the Bonanza and eventually discovered that it was called The Doctor Killer because of the lack of flying competence, experience and skills that the average doctor exhibited .( in short, the plane had extremely strong engine torque that need special pilot skills

ENUF SAID -------------------------- ! !
Edie and I were out of town yesterday and unable to attend the memorial service for Tom. He was a colorful and interesting person, like so many hundreds of the folks we've met here in the Copper Country. All have a story to tell - but few as compelling and traumatic as Tom Secor's brush with death 63 years ago.

By the way, Keweenaw County celebrates its 150th anniversary this month. We would like to invite you to dig out your favorite photo from the Keweenaw over the years, and email it (charlie@pasty.net) to be included in a Pasty Cameo later this month.

Have a good week.
Janie T. (Bobbysgirl) on Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 09:51 am:

Amazing! Mr Secor had several Guardian Angels looking over him! Fascinating tale!

By Donna (Donna) on Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 10:09 am:

Wow....what a tale indeed.....

By sometimesyooper (Nancyd) on Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 10:21 am:

I have never heard that story before. It's remarkable that he was able to recover and get on with his life, although it took a long time.

By Hollidays (Hollybranches) on Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 10:54 am:

Very interesting story.

By J T (Jtinchicago) on Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 11:22 am:

Hi Charlie:

Could you provide a bit of background as to where the Laurium Airport was located in 1948.


By mickill mouse (Ram4) on Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 11:58 am:

What a story. I am ever so glad he survived but, wished he would have told some stories of the spirit guides.

By Daveofmohawk (Daveofmohawk) on Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 12:25 pm:

I had the honor of knowing Tom Secor. What a wonderful person. I had many conversations with him and never knew that he was in the plane crash at Laurium Airport.

By Richard Wieber (Dickingrayling) on Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 01:03 pm:

I remember the sad story well. Dr McClure was my doctor. Years earlier I had an eye injury and he suggested removing the eye. My mother had been a nurse and said no over Doctor's fear the eye might get infected. Mother said even if I couldn't see with that eye at least it would move with the good one. IF it became infected then we would remove it. Sure glad mother hung in there because I earned my living for almost 50 years as a watchmaker with that eye. Aren't memories fun?

By Ozzie W. (10330) on Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 01:07 pm:

Sorry to hear of Tom,s death.I've known the family for many years.there was a ball field between the hanger ahd Isle Royale street and we were playing there when the accident happened.

By William M. Jacka Sr. (Bama) on Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 01:07 pm:

The airport was at the end of 3rd street 6 blocks south of Hecla Street in Laurium the last street in Laurium being Isle Royal. My btother Jim Jacka and Kenneth "Poker" McDonald were at the airport and "Poker" thru Jim in the drainage ditch right before it hit. Obvious a sod field. I was in the yard on Tamarack street and recall the fire trucks after the alarm went off heading down 3rd to the airport and of course followed on.

By E. Neil Harri (Ilmayksi) on Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 08:50 pm:

I heard this story many times. There was another crash there in the twenties. One of the Peteja boys bought a surplus WW1 plane in a crate. He put it together and read the instruction book on how to fly it.
I think he was killed on his first try.

By Connie Julien (Cjulien) on Friday, July 15, 2011 - 06:28 pm:

Did Tom ever put in writing his near death experience which he tells above as: " I (Tom Secor) was declared dead by the coroner and covered with that black blanket that is on the wing. I crossed-over into the 4th dimension and was met there by 3 Spirit Guides - which is another facit of this occasion which I am willing to discuss, if requested. "

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