Hadley Field, NJ Passenger Plane Crashes, Sep 1927

PASSENGER SHIP FALLS IN JERSEY.

"Penny-a-Pound" Pleasure Trip Ends in Tragic Death of Seven.

Hadley Field, N. J. Sept. 17 (UP) -- Seven persons met death in a farmer's orchard near here today when a Fokker pleasure plane, carrying a load of passengers on a "penny-a-pound" ride crashed from a height of 500 feet. Five others were injured.

The dead:
HARRY T. CHANDLER, New Brunswick, the pilot.
J. V. KING, Plainfield, N. J. his mechanic.
RUSSELL CAMPBELL, SR., treasurer and superintendent of the Suburban Trust Company, Plainfield.
RUSSELL CAMPBELL, JR.
FRANK HEATER, New Brunswick, N. J.
MRS. FRED DONOVAN, Newark, N. J.
MISS HELEN O'NEILL, Newark, N. J. niece of CAMPBELL.

The injured:
MISS BESSIE HEATER, daughter of FRANK HEATER.
MATHEW LUTZ, 14, New Brunswick, N. J.
LOUIS PELLIS, New Brunswick, N. J.
LORAINE and VERNA DONOVAN, daughters of MRS. FRED DONOVAN.

The big plane carried 10 passengers the pilot and mechanic. Several of those aboard were women and children, taking advantage of the plane company's offer to carry them aloft at one cent for each pound they weighed instead of the usual traffic of a dollar a minute.

Engine Goes "Dead"
The engine went dead while the plane was near the U. S. air mail field here. HARRY T. CHANDLER, the pilot, made a desperate effort to land in a plowed field, but the plane crashed with terrific force among the trees of the orchard.
The right wing crumpled. The fuselage telescoped and crushed the "bargain day" air passengers.
When emergency workers, firemen and police arrived every occupant of the plane was dead or unconscious.
The control stick pulled back to its limit was still grasped by the hands of the dead pilot. Both were "frozen" on the lever. It gave evidence that CHANDLER had made every effort to right the big airplane before it crashed .

Tugged Desperatley at Controls.
Field workmen said they saw him tugging desperately at the controls while the plane plunged with terrific speed toward the ground.
Laborers on the farm of JOSEPH SCHENCK, owner of the orchard, watched the swift descent of the plane in horror.
They said it glided for a moment, would nose dive and momentarily recover its level and then plunged out of all control.
The passengers screams were distinctly heard. Shouts of terror and horror came from the gay party that had gone aloft for a thrill.

Hundreds Awaited Their Turn.
Starting on a 20-minute flight in the direction of Plainfield, CHANDLER made a perfect take-off. Hardly had the plane disappeared from sight of the hundreds still awaiting their turn to go up than the Jupiter motor worried the pilot.
Skipping and missing, it suddenly stopped.
The type of motor used in the monoplane is similar to that in Old Glory, lost in an unsuccessful flight to Rome.

Accounts of the air disaster were told by witnesses.
CHARLES GARAMBA, an employe on the SCHENECK farm, said he was working in a field only about 100 feet away from the orchard.
"I saw the plane headed my way flying low. Its tail seemed to be dragging."
"I noticed that the motor wasn't working at all. Then I heard the women screaming and the men shouting. I distinctly heard someone shriek, "Turn this way." Then the plane came down. It made an awful crash. Just before that a woman's voice screamed, "Oh, my God!"
SCHENECK with his son ROBERT and GARAMBA were among the first to reach the wreckage.
CHANDLER and KING were far down in the fuselage, in the pilots cockpit.
Hands "Frozen" to Controls.
CHANDLER, although his face was crushed, had his hands "frozen on the controls. The "stick" or control lever, pulled back to its limit, gave evidence that the pilot had made last frantic efforts to right the plane.
SCHENECK description of the accident was:
"My son and I were working in a field about 100 feet away from the place the plane came down. We hadn't noticed, as the plane got near us, that the motor was dead and that the nose of the ship was wavering. Then for a moment it seemed to steady and glide nicely. It was getting lower all of the time. When we first saw it, the plane was not more than 300 feet up."
"The plane started to wobble again at the nose, and then it crashed into the orchard. We could see the men at the controls tugging away and we heard the shouts and screams of the passengers."
SCHENECK and his son hurried over to the orchard.
"When we got there we didn't hear a sound," SCHENCK continued. "All we saw was the smashed up plane. The wings were broken and the body of the plane was crushed. The wood from the cabin lay in splinters all around."
"The sight of the interior made us sick. You couldn't tell where one body ended and where the other began. They were twisted and intermingled, all down at the bottom."

Farmer Calls Firemen.
"Then the first thing I did was to run to a telephone. I ran back to the house and called the police to send an ambulance and the fire engines. I knew we could not get the bodies out without help of firemen."
CARTER TIFFANY, vice president of the Reynolds Airways, Inc., issued the following statement:
"Since we commenced operations on July 15 of this year, our planes have carried more than 4,000 passengers and flown approximately 350,000 miles. We have taken every precaution in this passenger carrying work."
"The plane which had the unfortunate accident today was licensed by the United States Department of Commerce and was subjected to our daily usual inspection. We employ a chief mechanic, four mechanics and two helpers for this work. In choosing our staff of pilots we are careful to employ men with excellent records both as regards military flying during the World War and commercial work afterwards. In purchasing our equipment we choose the well known Fokker passenger planes, which have established a world-wide reputation for performance and safety. We shall therefore, continue our operations as usual."

Syracuse Herald New York 1927-09-18

Comments

Sept 7, 1927 plane crash

I knew of this crash because 4 members of my family were killed in it including my mother's sister, Helen O'Neill whose 20th birthday and graduation from nursing school the flight was to celebrate. I have some of the clippings from the NYTimes and some of the local papers if anyone is interested.