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Air Force plane crash south of Petaluma recalled 44 years later

George Burk remembers it all. The window glass cracking mid-air on his Air Force Convair T-29 transport plane. The crash. The sounds. The smells. The pain. The white-hot, searing pain.

It was May 4, 1970.

The retired Air Force captain was one of four crew members and 10 passengers on the flight dubbed Visco 57, leaving Hamilton Air Force Base in Marin County en route to Spokane, Wash., at 8 a.m. on a hazy but otherwise clear morning.

Just minutes after takeoff, it clipped a ridge southeast of Petaluma, crashed and caught fire, killing 13 of those on board.

Burk was the sole survivor, rescued by a Mangels Ranch foreman who happened to be driving a different route that day and saw the smoke coming from a small valley.


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