Yosemite National Park, CA Airliner Crash, Mar 1938
AIRLINER DISAPPEARS -- NINE ABOARD.
TRANSPORT MISSING SINCE LAST NIGHT IN HIGH SIERRAS.
FALSE REPORT OF SAFE LANDING BRANDED BY AIRLINE OFFICIALS AS 'CRUELEST HOAX EVER PERPETRATED'; HUNT DIFFICULT.
San Francisco, March 2. -- (UP) -- Transcontinental & Western Air headquarters announced it had received a message purportedly from United Airlines at Fresno saying the missing TWA plane had been found, but that investigation disclosed the message was "one of the cruelest hoaxes ever perpetrated." The plan was still missing, TWA said.
United Airlines offices in San Francisco and Fresno denied any of their men had sent the message. TWA officials said the message was telephoned from Fresno by someone who said he was a United Airline employe. The flash message said the plane was found 20 miles from Fresno with "several passengers injured but everybody alive."
Fresno, Cal., March 2. -- (UP) -- A pelting rainstorm today handicapped search for a Transcontinental & Western Air transport plane with nine aboard which disappeared Tuesday night in the snow-covered mountians east of Fresno.
Fears increased hourly that the ship had crashed.
TWA officials, however, said they had not given up hope.
The plane, with six passengers and three crew, left San Francisco airport at six-thirty (seven-thirty
Ogden time) last night for Winslow, Ariz., but later was ordered to Los Angeles because of stormy weather.
The storm became so intense over the Tehachapi mountains, separating central and southern California, that Captain JOHN D. GRAVES, chief pilot, was forced back. He radioed at eight thirty-three he was heading for Fresno. He never got there.
Last definite news of the craft came from Mrs. C. G. Landry at the Edison company power house at Huntington lake, 45 miles northeast of Fresno. She reported she saw the plane at nine-twenty p.m. flying at 500 feet down the San Joaquin river.
Search was concentrated in the Sierra Nevadas east of Fresno.
The rainstorm prevented search from the air and forced searchers to use automobiles.
One party, headed by Herbert Stancil, Fresno manager of TWA , was fighting its way to the Huntington lake area.
The general search was directed by TWA and government officials who came to Fresno by automobiles from San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Those aboard the plane were:
MR. and MRS. L. D. WALTS, San Francisco.
V. KRAUSE, San Francisco.
JAY TRACY DIRLAM and MARY LOUISE DIRLAM, Stanford university students.
M. H. SALISBURY, a company pilot.
Captain JOHN D. GRAVES, chief pilot, Palo Alto, Cal.
C. W. WALLACE, co-pilot, Tucson, Arizona.
MISS MARTHA MAE WILSON, hostess, formerly
The plane was on the San Francisco-Winslow shuttle run of TWA which connects at Winslow with the company's trans-continental route between Los Angeles and New York.
GRAVES is a former army pilot. He won fame in 1932 as the pilot who located and dropped food to a party of snowbound Indians in northern Arizona who were on the verge of starvation.
Harold Bromley, noted flier, now Fresco inspector for the bureau of aeronautics, said visibility in the Fresno area was practically zero because of the downpour.
The rain started Tuesday night and continued incessantly today.
The plane, a twin-motored Douglas, had gasoline to last only until midnight.
When the ship left San Francisco airport the clouds were at 6,000 to 7,000 altitude. This was considered ample ceiling for safe flying.
Ogden Standard Examiner Utah 1938-03-02
U. S. NAMES AIR CRASH PROBE BOARD.
BODIES OF NINE DEAD ARE BROUGHT TO FRESNO FROM YOSEMITE PEAK.
INQUEST IS HELD: COMMERCE DEPARTMENT INVESTIGATION WILL START JUNE 21st.
Fresno today gave refuge to the bodies of the three women and six men lost nearly four months agao in swirling mountain snows aboard a luxury airliner which had sought in vain to make a safe landing here.
Their broken bodies, wrapped in canvas, were brought here after a cortege had wound its way sixteen miles by weird early morning light down the silent slopes of Buena Vista Crest in the Yosemite National Park. Henry O. Collier, youthful Fresno packing house worker, had stumbled upon the wrecked plane and its victims.
The ship had crashed the night of Marh 1st.
While the flickering flashlights of the crew ere picking out the rocks and snow drifts on the mountain death trap. Secretary of Commerce Daniel C. Roper at Washington, D.C., named a special board to investigate the crash and ordered its members to proceed at once to the scene.
With Collier as the only witness a coroner's jury sitting beside the strewn wreckage of the Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc., plane yesterday returned a verdict of accidental death.
Roper's special board is scheduled to hold public hearings on or about June 21st, contingent upon completion of the investigation at the wreck. The place of the hearings will be announced later.
The scene of the crash was erroneously identified by Collier as on Buena Vista Peak, a 9,770 foot spire. Rangers led to the scene by Collier later identified the spot as on Buena Vista Crest, a 9,425 foot formation a mile from the peak.
Only three bodies were identified at the scene. They are H. M. SALISBURY, a TWA pilot flying as a passenger; Pilot JOHN GRAVES and Stewardess MARTHA M. WILSON. Clothing and other effects are clues to the identity of the others.
A red smock worn by the stewardess was sighted within the shattered cabin of the $85,000 luxury airliner to attract attention to the ninth body. The others were thrown clear of the plane as it flew to bits in cutting a swath 200 yards long throgh trees, snow and boulders before boring into the mountainside.
The passengers had died instantly.
Had the plane gained but 200 feet more altitude it would have cleared the crest and GRAVES would have had unobstructed escape into the San Joaquin Valley in a northwesterly direction.
The Fresno Bee Republican California 1938-06-14