ON 14 MARCH 1942


2nd Lieutenant Frank Stiertz of the 7th Pursuit Squadron of the 49th Pursuit Group, 5th Air Force USAAF, was practicing touch-and-go landings at Bankstown airfield on 14 March 1942. He had just taken off from the end of the runway to turn around for another run and while swerving to miss a road grader, his right wingtip clipped the grader and the plane stalled. The Kittyhawk slammed into the runway and skidded into a newly constructed hangar and flipped over onto its back. It did not catch fire. A work crew lifted the crumpled aircraft using a block and tackle while Privates Paul Manget and Tom Hooper and Staff Sergeant John Bush looked on helplessly.

Before he could be removed from the crushed canopy Steirtz was asphyxiated by the steaming glycol fumes. He was eventually dragged free and rushed to the field dispensary where he was pronounced dead by the flight surgeon.

Stiertz was considered a brash pilot and had recently been in trouble with the local authorities and his superiors. He had advanced to cross country flights from Bankstown RAAF airfield back in February 1942. He angered local authorities when he flew his Kittyhawk underneath the Sydney Harbour bridge. He was grounded for two weeks after this incident.



"Protect & Avenge"
"The 49th Fighter Group in World War II"
by S.W. Ferguson & William K. Pascalis


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This page first produced 2 November 1999

This page last updated 21 February 2020