Leonard Charles Nechanicky

Photo added by Bart Hamlett

Leonard Charles Nechanicky

  • Birth 4 Nov 1920 Odessa, Lincoln County, Washington, USA
  • Death 4 Dec 1946 Hawarden, Sioux County, Iowa, USA
  • Burial Le Mars, Plymouth County, Iowa, USA
  • Memorial ID 45702514

Leonard Nechanicky Burns To Death When Plane Falls
Former Carroll Twp. Boy Killed In South Dakota

Leonard C. Nechanicky, 24, of Le Mars, IA., former Carroll township boy, a flying instructor at the Hawarden, Ia., airport; and Leonard Steklenberg, 45, Hawarden garage operator and manager of the airport were burned to death Tuesday afternoon when their dual trainer plane plowed into the ground down-grade just over the line in South Dakota three miles west and one mile south of Hawarden, across the Big Sioux river. According to Associated Press Dispatches, the men were believed to have been hunting coyotes. The bodies were burned beyond recognition, and were identified by keys and a watch on their bodies.

Daily press reports included the following:
“Witnesses said the plane did not crash and that it did not burn until after it had hit the ground. The bodies of the two men were found in the plane. The buckles of their life belts had been burned off but indicated the men still were wearing the belts when they died.
“It was believed one of the hunters’ guns accidentally had discharged, puncturing the gas tank and that the men were overcome with fumes at the time the plane landed. The gas tank was demolished by the fire.
“Preliminary identification of the bodies was made through a shotgun Steklenberg had borrowed after one of the employees in a garage he operated reported Steklenberg had gone hunting.
“Frank Holtkamp, farmer near the scene of the crash, said he had seen the plane diving and had heard shots from it. He presumed the fliers were hunting coyotes, as others have done hereabouts by plane.
“Merle Peterson, first to arrive at the crashed plane, said shotgun shells were exploding in the ship as he threw dirt on the men to try to save them.
“An investigation of the accident will be made by the aeronautics administration inspector at Huron, S.D.”
Leonard was born Nov. 4, 1923, at Odessa, Wash., a son of Mr. and Mrs. James Nechanicky. His father died when Leonard was only 2 years old, and he was brought to Iowa and reared by his uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Podhajsky Sr., of Carroll township. He attended a rural school, and was employed in Charles Chizek’s store and by the Piper Grain & Milling Co., in Clutier.
Leonard had his first flying instruction in Waterloo before the war, with George Cavalier, of Traer, as his instructor. After taking pilot instructor’s training, he was assigned to the Beacon Airways at LeMars, Ia., as a civilian instructor in connection with a Naval Air training program. After several months he enlisted in the Army Air Force, and was sent to the pilot’s training school at Brooks and Randolph Fields, San Antonio, Tex. He had other training at Thunderbird Field, Phoenix, Ariz., and at Curtis and Moore Fields, Tex. in 1944 Early in 1945, he was sent to Pampa, Tex., where on August 4, 1945, he graduated from twin-engine advance training, received the silver wings of a pilot and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Force. He was stationed at Brooks Field, Tex., piloting B-25 bombers until his discharge from the Army.
After leaving the Army he resumed his former job as an instructor for Beacon Airways at LeMars, Ia., until the business changed ownership some months ago. He then went to work as an instructor at Hawarden, Ia.
Leonard was married in September, 1943, to Joyce Zimmerman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Zimmerman, of LeMars. The couple have no children. While he has been employed full time at Hawarden, the couple have continued their home in LeMars, and he has been driving to and from Hawarden daily.
Mr. and Mrs. Nechanicky visited here in August, stopping at Traer enroute to Hawarden with a new Aeronica plane which they were flying from the factory in Ohio.
Surviving with the widow are his mother Mrs. Anna Nechanicky, of Independence, Ia., and two sisters, Mrs. Charles Kacer, of Garwin; and Mrs. Elsie Selk, of Dysart; also his paternal grandmother, Mrs Helen Nechanicky, of Spokane, Wash. Mrs. Selk is the widow of Fred W. Selk, who lost his life when an Army plane in which he was a passenger crashed into a bombed-out bridge over the Rhine near Cologne, Germany, May 7, 1945. The tragedy occurred after V-E day, his Air Engineering squadron for distinguished service during the war having been given an "honor" trip over Germany by air.
It is understood Leonard's funeral was to be yesterday at LeMars, and burial there. Mr. and Mrs. Joe Podhajsky Sr., left for LeMars Wednesday night, and other Tama county relatives were also planning to attend the funeral.
[Traer Star-Clipper, December 6, 1946]


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  • Created by: Louis
  • Added: 22 Dec 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 45702514
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Leonard Charles Nechanicky (4 Nov 1920–4 Dec 1946), Find A Grave Memorial no. 45702514, citing Memorial Cemetery, Le Mars, Plymouth County, Iowa, USA ; Maintained by Louis (contributor 47156311) .