Nov. 5, 1941: Pilot Ralph Virden dies after being trapped in the burning wreckage of his P-38, which lost its tail assembly as he was returning to the Lockheed Air Terminal after a test flight about noon, The Times reported.
Witnesses said the twin-engined, double fuselaged ship was booming westerward at near-maximum speed (unofficially reported to be between 400 and 500 mph) when the duralumin tail assembly “simply floated away.”
Homeowner Jack Jensen was awakened by the crash and tried to free Virden from the burning wreckage but was driven back by flames. The crash occurred during an outdoor luncheon for military officials and 25,000 employees, but they did not observe it, The Times said.
Virden was survived by his wife and son, Ralph Jr., who also worked at Lockheed. Fellow pilots said: “Ralph was the best we had, especially in power dives.”
Tom Treanor, who was killed covering World War II for The Times, says the Forum Theatre on Pico, the Warner Bros. Hollywood and the Roxie in downtown Los Angeles are experimenting with swing shift movies that start at 1:30 a.m.
Jimmie Fidler says: Sam Goldwyn doesn’t know it yet, but his ace cameraman Gregg Toland, an officer in the Naval Reserve, has been notified to stand by for active service.