Santa Ana, CA Commuter Plane Crash, Nov 1968
AN IRONIC TWIST TO PLANE CRASH -- SAFETY REQUEST.
Just one day before nine persons were killed in the crash of a commuter plane in fog-draped Santa Ana, the director of Orange County Airport, the planes destination, said new safety equipment was "desperately needed."
The propjet crashed on an embankment of the Newport Freeway, spewing flaming debris across all lanes and narrowly missing at least five cars. It was en route from Los Angeles International.
"It's incredible that it missed all those cars," said Santa Ana Police Sgt. Police Sgt. JAMES DILLON.
"A fog bank had just rolled across the freeway," said RANDY ROBERTSON, 28, Huntington Beach, one of the five motorists narrowly missing the cartwheeling wreckage.
But ROBERT E. GILMOUR, head of the federal Bureau of Aviation Safety's Los Angeles office, said after a preliminary search for clues Sunday that, "We definitely have not attributed the accident to poor visibility." He said poor visibility wasn't enough immediate explanation.
A day before the crash however ROBERT J. BRESNAHAN, director of the Orange County AIrport, had an appeal published for "desperately needed" air safety equipment.
He specifically called for additional instrumentation at the airport to assist planes groping through fog and low clouds for landings at the field, one of the three busiest in Southern California.
"We can't land at the airport when the ceiling is less than 600 feet and visibility one mile," BRESNAHAN said.
Visibility at the time of the crash, said a control tower official, was the bare acceptable minimum for planes carrying the type instrumentation of the DeHavilland Otter. That ceiling is 400 feet.
GILMOUR said, "so far we haven't found any clues" and added probably months of investigation would be needed to pinpoint the blame.
The plane's pilot, Capt. OMER DUBOIS, 47, Garden Grove, was a Marine pilot in World War II, a former flight instructor in Fullerton and had logged more than 12,000 flight hours in a career of nearly 30 years.
Killed with him in the crash and co-pilot THOMAS WALKER, 29, Long Beach, and all seven passengers.
They were identified by the Orange County coroner's office as:
Army Pfc. WILLIAM S. PERKINS, Costa Mesa.
ROBERT B. HOLLY, San Clemente.
RICHARD MIKELS, 41, Des Moines, Iowa.
MURRAY HOLLAND, 42, Costa Mesa.
LAWRENCE L. VAN MOURICK, JR., 38, and his wife, THERESA, 37, Laguna Beach.
CLARK BURNS,36, Laguna Beach.
The site southeast of Los Angeles was only one mile from the Orange County Airport runway in Santa Ana. One hour later, the fog-shrouded airport was forced to halt operations for hours.
Daily Review Haywood California 1968-11-25