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Aug 2, 2005 7:08 pm

The Pilot Who Survived After Falling Out of His Plane

Chris Vaughn, in the Houston Chronicle (7-31-05):

On a bone-chilling, miserably windy day in 1952, Capt. Fred C. Seals Jr. fell out of his airplane.

Right out the side of the C-46 Commando.

Four hundred feet above the snow-covered ground in the middle of the Korean War.

Improbably, Seals lived to tell the tale. The story has been retold on "Ripley's Believe It or Not," and to this day, old men stop him and ask if it is true.

Seals lived because he fell right back into the plane.

"There's many a time I've thought, 'Why in the Sam Hill am I here?' " he said. "By the grace of God."

Nearly forgotten

The story of this Texas native is so bizarre that only the most gullible listener could ever believe a shred of it. But the amazed crew told their commanders, who told Air Force information officers, who told reporters.

Seals is 83, a retired colonel and wing commander who makes his home in Norman, Okla.

A 1944 graduate of Texas A&M University, he saw three wars from the front row - as a B-17 pilot over Germany during World War II, as a recalled pilot for the Korean War and as a cargo pilot flying out of Da Nang during the Vietnam War.

But he will always be known for a mission in March 1952 in South Korea while trying to resupply troops.

The story might have slipped into the recesses of weird history, except for an Air Force veteran who recently donated his newspaper collection to Don Pyeatt, a Fort Worth man who serves as historian of the B-36 Peacemaker Museum group.

"I spent a day scanning them," Pyeatt said. "That article was included on the edge of another one. It caught my eye. What a story."


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