A Mississippi man believes that he knows the full tale behind a wrecked Air Force jet that crashed in Des Allemands, and says that the pilots didn’t land in Killona but instead parachuted into Mud Lake.
Jerry Candies, 73, who was born and raised in Des Allemands but now lives in McComb, was just 14 years old in 1953 when the plane crashed. Candies’ uncle was hunting in Mud Lake at the time and saw both pilots land in the water.
“It was really cold that day and an old fisherman was out in the water and he went to pick both pilots up,” Candies said. “They told him that their plane began experiencing trouble as soon as they took off from Belle Chase and that the engine completely died when they were over Paradis.”
The plane was one of the first jets used by the Air Force, and was not an F-14, which didn’t appear until the 1970s, Candies said.
Candies said the two men ejected from the jet in Paradis and that the plane’s overhead window was later found in the area.
“When the plane crashed, it didn’t bounce around or anything, but stuck straight in the lake,” Candies said. “It was big news in Des Allemands at the time, so me and my cousin hurried to the plane as soon as we heard about it.”
By this time, the fisherman had brought the two pilots to his home to dry off and the Air Force base in Belle Chase was called. A couple of hours later, Candies said the military showed up.
“My cousin and I sat and watched their marsh buggies go to the plane and begin removing items from it,” Candies said. “I don’t think there were even any weapons on the plane, and I’m not sure what they took off.
“Within 48 hours, they had taken everything they needed from the plane and loaded it up into one of those big transport vehicles.”
That same week, Candies said he and his cousin, Ronnie Loup, ventured to Mud Lake to get an up close look at the plane.
“My dad had warned me about getting too close to the plane, but my cousin went right up to it,” he said. “Later on, I was hanging out with him and he told me that he had taken the dash from the plane.
“I didn’t believe him, but I walked into his grandfather’s garage and there it was. He kept it for years, but I don’t know what happened to it.”