St. Louis, MO Airliner Crashes On Landing, July 1973
NO WARNING OF CRASH EVIDENT.
St. Louis (AP) -- "I wasn't aware the plane was going down. There was no panic. I don't think anybody knew it was going to happen," said STUART SIKEVITZ, one of eight survivors of the Ozark Air Lines plane that crashed in a blinding thunderstorm Monday night and killed 36 persons.
SIKEVITZ, 30, of Chicago, boarded the regional flight on its last intermediate stop at Marion, Ill., and said the plane was being buffeted by winds 20 minutes later.
SIKEVITZ, a hearing officer for the Illinois Pollution Control Board, said the only warning passengers had of the impending crash as it approached Lambert Airport was the pilot's warning that the plane was entering turbulence.
Just before the crash, he said, there was "a viloent movement to one side. I don't remember hearing any screams."
The pilot of the plane, Capt. ARVID L. LINKE, 37, of St. Charles told airline officials that he thought he had flown through a tornado and felt certain the plane had been hit by lightning at least once on the landing approach.
SIKEVITZ, reported in good condition at a hospital, told newsmen Tuesday he saw one streak of lightning "come real close, but I don't know if it hit."
Federal investigators, meanwhile, were sifting through the twisted wreckage of the Fairchild 227 turboprop, which crashed in a wooded ravine between two residential streets near the University of Missouri at St. Louis.
The plane, on a flight from Nashville, Tenn., plowed through trees, clipped the roof off a vacant house and broke apart when it crashed into two big oak trees, about 300 yards from an apartment complex. Police said no one on the ground was injured.
A team of 10 specialists from the National Transportation Safety Board began its investigation of the crash before dawn Tuesday.
The plane's flight recorder, containing conversations between the pilot and airport control tower, was removed from the wreckage and sent to the NTSB in Washington for evaluation.
WILLIAM R. HENDRICKS, the chief investigator, said Tuesday that incidents of a plane in flight being hit by lightning "are few and far between. We have no evidence at this time that lightning was a factor," he said adding that the plane was flying through a thunderstorm and anything was possible. He said the investigation would take a week to 10 days.
A Federal Aviation Administration official said the Ozark crew acknowledged receipt of reports on weather conditions from the control tower shortly before the crash and now concern was expressed.
Skies over the metropolitan area darkened rapidly, heavy rail fell and winds of 38 miles an hour were reported at the airport shortly before the crash. Police in the suburb of Ladue, about five miles from the crash scene, reported sighting a tornado about five minutes before the crash, but the National Weather Service did not support the sighting.
The weather bureau said a tornado warning was issued for the area about 20 minutes after the crash, following numerous reports of sightings. Airport officials said a half dozen planes landed at the airport within five minutes of the crash, although one craft missed an approach, possibly because of strong cross winds.
The FAA said the airport had fallen below visual standards just minutes before the crash, about three miles short of the airport, but the airport was well above minimum standards for instrument landings.
Passengers and two surviving crewmen were rushed to three hospitals in the area for emergency treatment, while bodies were taken to the county morgue.
RAYMOND I. HARRIS, chief investigator for the county medical examiner, worked through the night trying to identify from bits of clothing and personal effects what one nurse described as "the most mangled bodies I've ever seen."
DR. DAVID A. GARDNER, an FAA aviation medical examiner, said most of the dead had suffered what he called "deceleration injuries. Their faces smashed beyong identification. This is a typical injury in plane crashes. The plane stops and their bodies don't."
GARDNER said the bodies he saw were contaminated by fuel but had not been burned.
The crash represented Ozark's first fatality in 23 years of operation, and it occurred only 18 days after the airline resumed flights following a 71 day strike by airline mechanics.
It also marked the worst air disaster in the city's history. The worst disaster previously occurred Aug. 1, 1943, when Mayor WILLIAM DEE BECKER of St. Louis and nine other city and U. S. Army officials were killed in the crash of an Army glider demonstration flight at Lambert.
CRASH VICTIMS LISTED.
St. Louis (AP) -- A partial list of passengers aboard the Ozark Air Lines 227 turboprop airliner which crashed Monday in the St. Louis suburb of Normandy:
NICKEY CORDIN, Chelsea, Mich.
TANZY CORDIN, Chelsea, Mich.
J. FREEMAN, Arlington, Texas.
BARBARA ROBERTSON, Crestwood, Mo.
STEWART SIKEVITZ, 30, Chicago.
ROBERT WHITNEY, Bremerton, Wash.
ARVID L. LINKE, 37, St. Charles, Mo., pilot of the plane.
MICHAEL WILLIAMS, 28, Bridgeton, Mo., flight officer on the plane.
NORMAN ALLEN, Clarksville, Tenn.
JOHN BARTON, Seattle, Wash.
MARK T. BOREIO, Taylorville, Ill.
BDOBBY BOUCHER, Paducah, Ky.
DORIS CORDIN, Chelsea, Mich.
JOHN DIEBOLD, Oran, Mo.
MRS. JOHN DIEBOLD, Oran, Mo.
JANE DOYLE, hometown not given.
LLOYD DUWELIUS, Cleveland.
ROBERT FLECTHER, Paducah, Ky.
JOHN GLASS, Cape Girardeau, Mo.
JEAN GRAMBIHLER, Ft. Campbell, Ky.
BERT HALL, Murpheysboro, Ky.
ELMER HIGGIN, Highwood, Ill.
RUSSELL E. LANE, Redford Township, Mich.
DWAYNE MAYBERRY, Marion, Ill.
RODGER D. MITCHELL, Chanute Field, Ill.
MRS. ROBERT MOORE, Carmichael, Calif.
JEFF MOORE, Carmichael, Calif.
ARMANDO PEREZ, Houston, Texas.
BILL PHILLIPS, Grandville, Ill.
RUEY M. RASH, Mapleton, Ill.
HANNA RUTLEDGE, Murry, Ky.
PAMALA RUTLEDGE, Murry, Ky.
FRANK W. SEXTON, Jackson, Mo.
JANE SHIFLET, Sikeston, Mo.
PAGE D. STADY, Cairo, Ill.
HENRY TIBBS, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
GERALD TUCKER, Buena Park, Calif.
WILLIAM L. WAFFORD, Charlotte, N. C.
MARK WILHITE, Amarillo, Texas.
BETH WILLIAMS, Kirkwood, Mo., stewardess on the flight.
A spokesman for the airline said the last four victims of the crash, all men, have been tentatively identified, but their names are being withheld pending positive identification and notification of families.
Daily Capital News Jefferson City Missouri 1973-07-25
Researched and Transcribed by Stu Beitler. Thank you, Stu!