On January 25, 1942, a single-engine fighter plane plunges into the roof of the home at 1521 Grand Avenue in Everett, rips through a wood shed behind the house at 1518 Rucker Avenue, and crashes into a backyard cherry tree. Pilot Laune Erickson parachutes into Port Gardner Bay where he is quickly rescued by a U. S. Naval officer who lives near the crash site and is at home on leave at the time. Surprisingly no one is injured.
Two Flight Mishaps
Government secrecy prevented reporters from divulging complete information about the crashed plane or its origins. While the story has frequently been told that the plane was flying from Paine Field, its single engine suggests it was more likely a Navy fighter plane flying east out of Whidbey Island. In either case, pilot Laune Erickson of Salt Lake City lost control of his craft and was able to parachute to safety. Navy officer Robert Stephenson, an Everett resident home on leave, witnessed the crash and reportedly seized a leaky boat and grabbed a plank that he used to paddle out to the struggling pilot who was nearly unconscious from the water’s cold temperature. Erickson insisted on being taken immediately to see the plane.
He found it resting against the wood shed and tree of the Rucker Avenue home. The back of the Grand Avenue house had been damaged, pieces of its roof scattered, in the words of a reporter, “like shredded wheat.” After strewing the wreckage of the house across the back yard and alley, the plane crashed into the wood shed and cherry tree of the house at 1518 Rucker and the plane’s engine shot forward 150 feet into Rucker Avenue. Due to a fortunate set of events, no one was injured. Mrs. Gray was visiting in Yakima at the time and the plane came to a stop before damaging the Rucker Avenue home. There were also no cars in the 1500 block of Rucker Avenue at the moment of the crash. In 2007 both homes still stand.
On February 17, 1942, a similar event occurred when a Paine Field P-38 pursuit plane plunged into a chicken coop at Silver Lake near Everett. Its pilot was also able to bail out and reach safety. It was estimated that 500 chickens were killed.