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World War Ace is Arrested for Running Beer by Plane
World War Ace is Arrested for Running Beer by Plane
The Times Recorder - Friday, May 27, 1932
Published by Scott
19 July 2007
World War Ace is Arrested for Running Beer by Plane

World War Ace Is Arrested For Running Beer by Plane

Lieutenant W. T. Ponder, Who Shot Down 17 Germans, Caught With Beer

SAN ANTONIO, Tex., May 26(AP)A World war ace, allegedly turned beer runner, is the first "enemy" downed and captured in aerial warfare against liquor and narcotic smugglers inaugurated by the United States customs service.
W. T. Ponder of Fort Worth, Tex., credited with shooting down 17 German planes in the World war, was unable to trick a customs pursuit plane, manned by an unidentified pilot, in a 200-mile chase from the Mexican border.
As Ponder touched the wheels of his big blue biplane to the ground at San Angelo airport last night, the small ship in pursuit whipped in ahead of him and he was trapped.
Agents D. S. Conner and A. P. Cummings leaped from the government ship and placed Ponder under arrest. They found 1,500 bottles of Mexican beer in Ponder's plane. No shots were fired.
While the prisoner denied knowing he had been chased and said he landed for fuel, airport officials said it appeared that Ponder came down in a desperate effort to shake off his pursuer and had intended to zoom away had he lured the customs ship to a landing after him. They said Ponder had enough gasoline for four or five hours more of flight.
"I took a sporting chance and here I am," said the wartime ace, who holds the distinguished service cross and decorations from several of the allied nations. "I am not pleading guilty to anything."
He waived examining trial today on a charge of violating the customs laws and was held in $1,500 bond.
The capture marked the first airplane seizure where both the government and the hunted craft were in the air.
Ponder enlisted in the Lafayette Escadrille early in the World war and transferred to the United States army in February, 1918. He was given the distinguished service cross for breaking up an enemy attack of 13 planes on a lone American flier and shooting down an enemy plane near Fontaines, France, Oct. 23, 1918.
He married a French girl and returned to Mangum, Okla. where he was city manager for two years. He has lived in Fort Worth several years and has the agency for an aircraft corporation.

The Times Recorder - Friday, May 27, 1932

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william thomas ponder

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