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St. Louis, MO Airliner Crashes On Landing, July 1973


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.

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.
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.
DORIS CORDIN, Chelsea, Mich.
JANE DOYLE, hometown not given.
JOHN GLASS, Cape Girardeau, Mo.
JEAN GRAMBIHLER, Ft. Campbell, Ky.
BERT HALL, Murpheysboro, Ky.
ELMER HIGGIN, Highwood, Ill.
RUSSELL E. LANE, Redford Township, Mich.
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.
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


Correction on deceased home town/ state

Bert Hall was from Murphysboro, (not Murpheysboro) IL ( not KY). I know
this because his son Bert Hall JR., was a friend/classmate of mine.

Last Four Victims

My father was one of the last victims identified. His name was JIMMIE CLARK THOMPSON. He lived in Madison Heights Michigan at the time of his death. He is orginally from Alabama. He left behind a wife and two minor children.

Rodger Mitchell was from

Rodger Mitchell was from Carterville Il. He was a serviceman stationed at Chanute.

Perez and Boucher

Armando Perez had been working on Staff of the Four Rivers Scout Camp (later renamed Camp Roy C. Manchester). He was a member of Troop 365, a troop that had for many years traveled to Western Kentucky for Summer Camp. Bobby Boucher was escorting Armando back to Houston at the end of Summer Camp. To this day a plaque dedicated to Armando's memory remains at the main flagpole of the Camp.


Pam and Havana Rutledge were from Murray, KY. Havana was Pam's mother and Pam had just graduated from Murray State University. They have had a scholarship in their name ay Murray State since 1974.

thank you

thank you very much for this additional information ..

update to 1973 Ozark Air Lines crash victims list

I was researching this crash for a friend who knows one of the survivors. By searching Google News archives, I located several articles and learned that Nickolette (Nickey) Cordin, age 12, died in the hospital on the Thursday after the crash. I was not able to find out which one of the other initial survivors also died in the hospital.

Interestingly, there was another survivor -- a beagle was found in a carrier in the baggage section two days after the crash.

My condolences to everyone who lost family or friends in the crash.

Don Pollock

Don Pollock was on that plane. I wish he hadn't been.

Ozark Air Crash

I know a little bit more about this crash than I would like. My father (Conrad Fetsch) and uncle ( Vernon J. Fetsch) were both off duty police officers who lived in Overland Mo. At the time of the crash. They were among the first who responded to the crash. I have herd stories throughout my life on how my dad drove ambulances so the medics could work and how my uncle helped to evacuate the apartments. This one incident some 30 plus years ago is still a common discussion for the two of them. Under neath my dads desk is a certificate that was presented to him by the mayor of Normandy Missouri for his dedication of duty under distress.

My brother died in this

My brother died in this crash. I have been searching for information for years- all the other stories I have read were very vague and had little to no detail. Thank you for the information- It sets my heart at ease to know that that there was little suffering and not a lot of time to comprehend what was to become a horrific incident.

article | by Dr. Radut