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James M. Carter

Entered on Duty: 
1955-04-25
End of Watch: 
1956-06-06

Patrol Inspectors James M. Carter and Carter M. Newsome were temporarily detailed from Marfa, Texas, to Comstock, Texas, on June 4, 1956, for a two-week horse patrol operation to work in the vicinity of Comstock. On June 6, these officers, accompanied by Patrol Inspector Emmit R. Brotherton, were about 35 miles north-northwest of Comstock engaged in "sign-cutting", a term applied to locating and following footprints or other physical evidence left by a person traversing an area. The officers had located two sets of footprints and were tracking them when Service aircraft N4375A, piloted by Airplane Pilot Douglas G. Shute, arrived. Thereafter, the aircraft was used in the search operation with Patrol Inspector Carter serving as observer in the plane.

At about 10:00 a.m., the pilot reported by radio that the walkers had been located and directed the ground crew on a course to intercept them. The plane was then seen making a banking turn to the left and resuming level flight at 100 feet altitude. Shortly thereafter, the plane went into a steep climb and at 450 feet it stalled, falling into a left spin from which there was no recovery. There had been no change in engine power during the maneuver, in the spin, or at impact. The plane struck the ground in vertical descent, the engine being driven back into the cockpit. The wreckage was contained in a circle no larger than the wingspan. The engine was driven back into the cockpit, the force of the impact telescoping the cabin, imprisoning Pilot Shute and Patrol Inspector Carter. Both were killed in the impact.