Midland, MI Plane Crash On Landing Kills 47, Apr 1958
NO CLUES FOUND YET IN CRASH OF LINER FATAL TO 47 ABOARD.
FIERY DISASTER DECLARED SECOND WORST IN STATE.
VISCOUNT SLAMMED MUD NEAR RUNWAY.
Midland, Mich. (AP) -- A Capital airlines British-built Viscount airliner slammed into the muck of an old corn field during an eastern snowstorm Sunday night, killing all 47 persons aboard.
A chief Civil Aeronautics Bureau inspector said today it probably would take at least the rest of the week to find out why.
The big plane, powered by four turbo prop engines, plunged into the ground about 2,300 feet short of the southwest-northeast runway of the Tricity AIrport. The airport serves Midland, Saginaw and Bay City.
CAB investigator FRED G. POWELL said a prelliminary investigation indicated the craft exploded after hitting the ground. He added, however, that it was entirely too early to get even a possible cause for the disaster.
The state had only one other major air tragedy. A Northwest Airlines DC-4 disappeared over Lake Michigan, June 24, 1950, with 58 aboard.
Sunday night's crash killed more persons than any other commercial airline accident in the United States since June 30, 1956, when 128 were killed in the crash of a TWA Super Constellation and a United Air Lines DC-7 over the Grand Canyon.
POWELL assembled six CAB specialists to study the crash. The Civil Aeronautics Administration sent in six other experts. Capital Airlines is conducting still a third inquiry.
Bodies were scattered across a wide area. Charred bodies were found in the shattered wreckage.
WARNER LAW, owner of the farm on which the plane crashed, said: "There was no chance of anyone getting out. The plane came in hard. It didn't fall. It ran into the ground."
Control tower officials said it was windy and snow was falling as the plane approached for a landing at 11:15 p.m. Visibility was three miles with a 900-foot ceiling.
NELSON GIRARDIN, who had stopped at the airport administration building with his family to watch the plane land, said one minute the plane's lights were barely visible through the rain and snow; the next minute they abruptly headed earthward. A second later there was a blinding flash of orange flame spurting nearly 100 feet in the air, followed by a muffled explosion, he said.
GIRARDIN said the plane apparently landed almost squarely on its nose, then flipped over, a flaming mass of wreckage.
There was some confusion whether the plane exploded and crashed, or crashed and exploded.
RONALD A. WENZEL, 24, living at Freeland, 10 miles distant, said he saw an explosion.
Capital Airlines headquarters at Washington said it had no information on an explosion before the crash.
Police, sheriff's deputies and firemen from nearby communities battled through mud and water to reach the plane. One fire engine bogged down before reaching the scene.
Airline officials said three crew members and 44 passengers were aboard the plane, Capital Flight 67 from Newark, N. J., to Chicago via Detroit, Flint and Saginaw, Mich.
The crew members were identified as Capt. WILLIAM J. HULL, 44, Washington Township, N. J.; EARLE M. BINCKLEY, 27, Levittown, N. Y.; and hostess RUTH DENECKE, 27, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Civil aeronautics authorities said a four-man team was en route to investigate the crash.
At least 16 of the dead were from Michigan.
Capital said HULL was one of the airline's "million-miler" pilots. He had been with Capital since April 1941.
Airline officials said in Washington the crash was the first Capital Airlines accident involving a passenger fatality since December 1949, and the first killing a crewman in 4 1/2 years.
Spring Mud Held Rescue Workers From Crash Site.
Takeoff Late; Route Changed by Weather.
Midland (AP) -- Stormy spring weather put up a barricade against the efforts of struggling men to do something about Sunday night's plane crash.
Mud, clutching and treacherous, got in the way.
A township fire engine wallowed into if at one point and stuck fast.
The flight, from the time it started, was an exasperating thing.
The plane was rerouted to its takeoff from New York to Newark because of bad weather over La Guardia Airport. It left at 7:20 p.m., one hour and 20 minutes late.
Over Michigan, flight conditions at crash time included three mile visibility and an 18-mile northeast wind with gusts to 27 miles an hour.
The plane crashed at 11:19 p.m. According to the flight schedule, it was due at Midland at 10:09 p.m. and was to have left at 10:29 p.m.
When the plane crashed -- one home owner told of a "flashing light" into his bedroom window moments beforehand -- there were about 30 persons in the Tri-City Airport terminal.
Many tried to rush out to give aid. But airport firemen held them back, fearing confusion at the scene.
At that moment it had not been determined if there were survivors. The first body was pulled from the charred and slimy ruins of the airliner at 12:30 a.m. It was that of a decapitated man.
A little later that of the stewardess in her uniform was removed.
Two witnesses, both travelers, told of hearing explosions from the plane.
LESTER McPHERSON of Fairfield, Conn., said he saw from a ramp at the terminal building that the fuel tank apparently exploded. He said this was while the plane was in flight.
(Reports about an explosion on the plane before the crash have conflicted. Capital Airlines at Washington said it had received no information of an explosion.)
R. H. WAIDDLICH of Colonia, N. J., was aboard another Capital plane waiting for its takeoff on a flight to Chicago.
WAIDDLISH said he saw a flame "race along one wing" of the the[sic] doomed ship. He said he then heard an explosion.
From their bedroom window MR. and MRS. ELMER BOHNOFF said a "flashing light" showed as the plane came over.
BOHNOFF sad [sic] he thought the plane was off course. After the light there was an explosion -- "not very loud," said BOHNOFF.
Another resident of the area, MRS. CLIFFORD G. AKENHURST, said that when the plane came over it "sounded different." She said she then heard an explosion.
CRASH VICTIMS' NAMES RELEASED.
U.P. NATIVE, BEAUTY QUEEN ABOARD LINER.
Flint (AP) -- A young, beautiful former "Miss Flint" and a General Motors official at Milwaukee were among the 47 victims of the Easter Sunday plane crash at Midland.
JOSEPH A. CARAH, 50, director of standards in GM's A-C Sparkplug Division plants at Milwaukee, was heading back to Wisconsin after spending the holiday weekend here with his wife and two children, Jean, 18, and William, 14.
CARAH, a native of Laurium in the Upper Peninsula, attended high school in Calumet. He completed four years of study at the GM Institute here in 1929, joining the A-C division two years later as a test lab engineer.
In 1954, CARAH was appointed divisional superintendent of production engineering. He was named to the Milwaukee post last July.
ROSALIND LAMKINS, 20-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Russell Lamkins of Flint, represented the city in the 1956 Miss Michigan contest.
The 5-foot-5 brunette had been working at a beauty shop in Grand Rapids. She also was chosen "Miss Independence" at a Fourth of July celebration at Harrison two years ago and was crowned by Gov. Williams.
V. WAYNE HUFFMAN, 23, of nearby Mt. Morris, was heading back to Chicago, where he attended the Illinois College of Optometry, after a weekend with his family. His father, VERL, is deputy mayor of Mt. Morris.
MRS. HELEN Q. RUSSELL, 54, of Racine, Wis., had been visiting a nephew, Thomas Hassett, in Flint.
MRS. LAVINA JENKS, 55, and her son, HERBERT L. , 31, both of Dodgeville, Wis., had been visiting relatives at nearby Clio.
LEO L. HIMELHOCK, 57, of North Hollywood, Calif., had been in Flint for a visit with a brother, Gus. A former Flint resident, he owned an advertisting gift service in North Hollywood.
1st Lt. DAVID DOOLEY, 24, was visiting his in-laws at Mt. Morris and took off on the first leg of a trip to Okinawa where he was stationed with the Air Force. He had just left his wife and their year-old-daughter with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Goodroe.
MISS PRUDENCE WINDSOR, 26, was a chemist for Dow Chemical Co. at Midland. She had spent the weekend visiting at Indiana University, where she was to have received a master's degree in June, and flew back to Midland. Her father, Clarence V. Windsor, was formerly city engineer at Anderson, Ind.
M. V. GIRLANDO, 22, Case Institute of Technology's all-time athlete, was graduated from Case last year after setting a basketball scoring record for the engineering school. He averaged 22.2 points in his senior season.
He was working for the nuclear fuel division of Olin Mathieson Co., New Haven, Conn., and had boarded the plane at Detroit after visiting in Akron, Ohio; his former home.
JAMES STEWART MILLIKEN, 40, Pittsbugh, Pa.
MRS. LAVINIA JENKS, Dodgeville, Wis.
HERBERT L. JENKS, her son, Dodgeville.
ALEXANDER F. KLEINERT, Flint, Mich.
MRS. HELEN Q. RUSSELL, Flint.
MISS ROSALIND LAMKINS, Flint.
JAMES F. CAHOON, Flint.
JOSEPH CARAH, Flint.
MR. HARRY E. O'NEILL, JR., Flint.
MRS. JEANNE SCHWIETZER, 41, Grand Rapids, Mich.
N. WHEATON, Huntington, W. Va.
ROBERT M. BENJAMIN, 63, Saginaw, Mich.
MR. LAWRENCE and MRS. LOUISE NORBERG, 49 and 48, Saginaw, Mich.
CHARLES R. ROSS, 31, Saginaw.
Lt. DAVID DOOLEY, Mount Morris, Mich.
V. W. HUFFMAN, Mount Morris.
RAYNER G. FIELD, Birmingham, Mich.
R. D. McNALLY, Midland, Mich.
JOHN F. McEACHIN, 35, Saginaw.
DR. EARL and MRS. GRACE PELTON, Midland.
T. KELLY, address unknown -- bought airline ticket originally at San Antonio, Tex., March 21.
MISS JEAN HODGSON, 26, Midland.
JAMES BRUN, 42, Newport, Ky.
JAMES J. WILTSIE, Springfield, Illinois.
DR. WILLIAM K. and MRS. JUNE LEE, Bay City, Mich.
J. B. SHOOP, Columbus, Ohio.
RICHARD DURYEA, JR., Birmingham, Mich.
E. STANTON ELY, 41, Saginaw.
DANIEL M. BARGER, Chattanooga, Tenn.
LESTER L. WILENSKY, Saginaw.
MRS. HELEN N. CARPENTER, Bay City.
RAYMOND E. MERRILL, 18, Bay City.
ROBERT WARREN, Minford, Ohio.
PRUDENCE WINDSOR, 26, Anderson, Ind.
J. C. CZUBA, 54, Brookfield, Illinois.
SHIRLEY JEAN GOETZ, 25, Midland, Mich.
DR. GLENN W. PARSONS, 47, Midland.
JOHN K. WEISS, Harrison, N.Y.
MARY L. KLEIN, Chicago.
Capt. WILLIAM J. HULL, 43, North Westwood, N.J., the pilot.
EARLE M. BINCKLEY, 27, co-pilot, Levittown, N. Y.
RUTH DENECKE, 27, St. Petersburg, Fla., hostess.
Daily Globe Ironwood Michigan 1958-04-07
Transcriber's note: The official cause of this accident was a stalling and crash of the aircraft due to icing of horizontal stabilizer causing loss of control.