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Fighter Jet Crashed in Kopperl

Updated: Aug 2, 2021

Prior to 1953 the Airforce had introduced several "New" Jet Airplanes and the Kopperl airspace was a training ground for the James Connally Air Force Base in Waco. These planes had no restrictions for breaking the sound barrier over inhabited areas and commonly flew low. When they broke the sound barrier it sounded like thunder even on a clear day. We never hear this anomaly today as breaking the sound barrier over land was banned by the FFA in 1973.

On Wednesday July 15th, 1953 an out of this world thing occurred just outside of Kopperl. An aviation cadet flying a T-33 jet trainer crashed in a field just north of Kopperl. The pilot was unable to eject from the plane and died in the crash. This event made many of the local newspapers and was the talk of Kopperl for quite some time. Even to this day actually as Ron Carlisle just told me this story in 2021.

Ron remembered that the event took place in the summer when he was just a young boy. His father Horace Clinton Carlisle Jr. had just finished baling hay back at the farm and came back to the house. The plane was flying low and making a strange noise where you could tell something was wrong. The plane was low enough to see the pilot, and then it rolled over and crashed. The Carlisle family jumped in the car and headed out to the crash site. Homer Muir was plowing not far from the crash site and owned the property. The Jet crashed in the fields to the North of Kopperl on the other side of Plowman Creek. Mr. Muir drove up on his tractor about the time that the Carlisle family arrived. Within 30 minutes there were a dozen cars that drove up from Kopperl. Shortly after that the Army Corps of Engineers came down and staked out the area. They were looking for parts of the plane which were scattered for two hundred yards. One man walked up carrying one of the pilot's hands and that is something Ron and the other children of Kopperl never forgot. The torso was all that was left of the pilot. Ron remembers driving to the field in the families' 41 chevrolet. They had just been to a bakery in Cleburne to buy the "best" loaves of bread. Ron remembered eating a whole loaf of bread that day. The whole town of Kopperl stayed at the crash site all day to watch the show. Sunshine Kuykendahl also remembers that day just like it was yesterday. Several additional accounts of the crash can be read below in the local newspaper clippings.

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