Milwaukee, WI Lake Michigan Airplane Crash, Jun 1950
58 ON PLANE DIE IN LAKE
Big Airliner Lost In Gale; Oil Slick Found Near Here
Gigantic Air And Sea Hunt On For Trace of Wreckage
MILWAUKEE, June 24 (AP) - Coast guard headquarters here reported a third oil slick on the east side of Lake Michigan about 12 miles northwest of St. Joseph, which might be from the lost Northwest Air Lines plane. Lake sailors have said oil slicks are fairly common the the steamship lanes, resulting usually from fuel oil seepage from ships.
MILWAUKEE, Wis., June 24 (AP) - A Northwest Air liner with 58 persons aboard was reported missing today over wind-lashed Lake Michigan.
The U. S. coast guard north west operations office here said their surface craft had located an oil slick off Milwaukee. They did not know the origin of the slick.
However, the oil slick area, about nine miles southeast of Milwaukee, was marked off with buoys. The coast guard said wreckage of an unknown nature and some dye markers also had been found.
The coast guard did not comment on a report that divers might be sent down to investigate whether the plane sank into the waters there.
Worst In History
If all aboard the DC-4 four-engine air coach are lost, it will be the most disastrous crash in U. S. commercial aviation history. The plane was en route from New York to the Pacific northwest.
A gigantic air and surface search net was thrown out from both east and west shores of Lake Michigan.
Fogs clinging to the surface of the water hampered early morning searchers.
There was a crew of three aboard the craft. The skipper was ROBERT LIND, 35, of Hopkins, Minn. Co-Pilot was VERN F. WOLFE, 35, of Minneapolis. Stewardess BONNIE ANN FELDMAN, 25, of St. Paul, completed the crew roster.
Last Report at 11:15 p. m.
The night plane last reported its position at 11:15 p. m. (C.S.T.) yesterday. At Minneapolis the civil aeronautics authority said Capt. LIND told them he was over the eastern edge of Lake Michigan at the time.
He asked permission to descent from 3,500 feet to 2,500 feet. The CAA denied the request because there was too much traffic at that altitude already.
The CAA said Capt. LIND did not mention storm conditions. Sections of west Michigan, however, were lashed by electrical storms at about midnight. Winds of gale force slashed through the region.
The plane - flight 2501 - left LaGuardia field in New York at 8:25 p. m. (E.S.T.) and was due at Minneapolis at 1:23 a. m. (C.S.T.) on a non-stop run NWA officials in Seattle said among the 55 passengers, 11 were bound for Spokane, eight for Seattle, and two for Portland, Ore.
Cutter Joins Hunt
The Chicago headquarters of the coast guard dispatched the cutter Frederick Lee - as soon as it was established the plane was overdue.
All coast guard stations and state police posts in Michigan were alerted. Two amphibian planes droned off over the lake seeking the missing liner. Early in the search police at suburban White Fish Bay, reported seeing a light on the lake. After 10 minutes it vanished, they added.
The naval station at Glenview, Ill., put patrol bombers in the air when the search alarm was sounded. They planned to ride the radio beams that the Northwest plane should have followed.
Air national guard assistance was also enlisted. The Grayling, Mich., air guard unit - with 27 planes - was called upon by the civil aeronautics authority. The unit said it would send out its planes.
Search Over Wide Area
The search area was vast, covering about 32,000 square miles.
The big search turned up conflicting reports. In Chicago, Coast Guard Captain Daniel Fulford said that wreckage had been sighted nine miles off Milwaukee's north breakwater light. Milwaukee craft however could not locate it.
The air route traffic control center in Chicago said that Northwest's Duluth control tower had heard a constant radio signal which it could not fix exactly. Government listening stations said they could not pick it up.
The Milwaukee office of Northwest Air Lines said one of their cargo planes had sighted an oil slick about six miles southeast of south Milwaukee.
Cling To Slim Hope
MILWAUKEE, Wis., June 24 (AP) - Northwest Air Lines officials refused to give up hope that their lost plane may be safe. They said the plane had enough gasoline to fly as far as Billings, Mont.
It was possible, they said, that the plane may have been thrown off course with its radio out of commission and gone into the northern Wisconsin woods.
But, if the big plane did crash into the lake, officials of the air lines said, it could not stay afloat very long with its capacity load.
Local Coast Guard Aids Plane Hunt
Coast guardsmen from the St. Joseph station continued today to participate in the widespread search of Lake Michigan today for the DC-4 airliner which is believed to have plunged into the lake off Milwaukee early this morning with 58 persons aboard.
Chief Oscar Halstad and two crewmen left the local station at 3:30 o'clock this morning after being alerted by CAA authorities who were requested by Northwest Air Lines officials to conduct the search after the plane became overdue. At noon today the power life boat had not returned to the local station and was out of radio contact with the local station.
The airliner is believed to have passed almost directly over the twin city area shortly after midnight.
The plane was sighted by Deputies, Ted Bartz and Art Johnson, flying at a low level over the Paw Paw lake area and obviously in distress. Deputy Bartz reported by radio to the sheriff's office at 12:20 a. m. that a large plane was skimming the tree tops in the Paw Paw lake resort area apparently in distress.
No indication that it had crashed on this side of the lake between Paw Paw lake and the eastern shore of Lake Michigan was received, however:
Several residents of the Paw Paw lake area were awakened by the noise of the four-motored aircraft. Included was Mrs. Mattie Arnold, who lives on the Coloma side of the inland lake.
She said this morning that she saw the plane's running lights as she returned home from taking her husband to work shortly after midnight. She said the plane was "skimming the tree tops" and appeared to be in trouble.
The Herald Press Saint Joseph Michigan 1950-06-24
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