Seattle, WA Plane Crashes In Flames On Take-Off, Jan 1949
Relatives, sweethearts and friends who had just bidden the students farewell after a happy holiday season, watched in horror as the DC-3 went up in flames.
The stricken crowd then saw survivors begin plunging through the cabin door which had burst open with the crash. Some crawled through windows, or squeezed through a break in the fuselage.
Survivors said they crawled on hands and knees through the flames to reach the door, their hair and clothes afire.
Field attendants and Boeing and United Air Lines employes rushed to the rescue. Some crawled into the burning plane. Others aided passengers leaping from the door.
The survivors included JOHN RODERICK, Seattle, star end of Yale's 1947 football team. He left the crash scene unaided.
An investigation started. LEON D. CUDDEBACK regional director of the civil aeronautics board said it was too early to determine the cause, but "apparently there was no explosion" before the plane hit. Several witnesses reported it exploded upon striking the revetment.
Although a full night shift was at work in the Boeing hangar, none there was injured. In the hangar was a new Boeing stratocruiser loaded with 2,000 gallons of gasoline. It was quickly towed from the danger area.
There were tragic, ironic twists. A passenger THOMAS H. ANDERSON, 19, of Spokane, said all students left the craft when the field was fogged over; then returned to it shortly before the accident.
"We were all clear out of the plane once," ANDERSON said. "When we got to the field it was fogged over. Then it seemed clear a little. We got back into the plane again."
"At first it seemed like an ordinary takeoff. I'm sure we were in the air."
"Then we all seemed to sense that something was going wrong. You could hear them say 'This is it,' and 'We're going to crash.' "
"We seemed to turn to the left and go into sort of a left bank. The one wheel hit the ground. There was just a mass of flying upholstery."
"Then the windows were all red. I could see that there were flames outside. Everybody seemed to rush for the door."
Walla-Walla Union-Bulletin Washington 1949-01-03