Skip to Content

Grand Canyon, AZ (Winslow) Airplane Collision, Jun 1956

Arizona impact site of TWA 2.jpg Flagstaff AZ common plot for 67 of the TWA flight.jpg Grand Canyon AZ Monument for United 29 unidentified.jpg Arizona Impact site of TWA.jpg arizona United impact site.jpg Winslow AZ site of crash.jpg Winslow AZ type of plane in crash.jpg Winslow AZ type of plane in crash 2.jpg

128 Feared Dead in Crash of 2 Airliners; Wreck Found

L. A. Craft May Have Collided

WINSLOW, Ariz., June 30 -- (AP) -- Wreckage of one and possibly both of two big airliners which disapeared[sic] with 128 persons aboard on eastward flights from Los Angeles was sighted tonight in the Grand Canyon of northern Arizona.
Capt. BYRD HYLAND, head of search and rescue team from March Air Force Base, Calif., said "there is a possibility" that the planes collided in flight.
Wreckage was sighted tonight on a butte at the south rim of the canyon.
It was identified by two fliers as the remains of a TWA Constellation carrying 70 persons on a flight from Los Angeles to Kansas City.
HYLAND said later the wreckage might also include that of a United Air Lines DC7 which disappeared and presumably crashed with 58 persons aboard.

NO SURVIVORS SEEN
The Air Force captain said there was no way of ascertaining before daylight Sunday whether the wreckage was that of one or two planes.
No sign of survivors was reported by the fliers who spotted the heap of ruin.
LYNN COFFIN, chief ranger at Grand Canyon National Park, said PALEN and HENRY HUDGINS, operators of the Grand Canyon Airlines, spotted the wreckage from the air about 25 miles northeast of Grand Canyon Village.
They reported that the wreckage was on the side of a butte about 1,000 feet above the Colorado River.

FIRES SEEN
The wreckage was scattered over the hillside, they said, and two fires were burning in the area.
COFFIN said Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., was notified that the wreckage had been found and was making arrangements to fly to the area in the morning.
The two planes left Los Angeles within minutes of each other and had been missing for more than 10 hours when the wreckage was sighted.
The search for the United airliner by military, civil and airline authorities, working on the ground and in the air, was halted by darkness until daylight Sunday.

RUGGED WASTES
The area over which the planes disappeared is a broad expanse of wastes covering thousands of square miles of high, jagged mountains, deep canyons and parched desert.
Heavy thunderclouds hung over the area during the day.
The total number of passengers aboard the crafts raises the possibility of the worst commercial air disaster in history in event they may have collided or otherwise been involved in a single mishap.
The worst commercial crash on record is that of a Venezuelan airliner off New Jersey's coast June 20, in which 74 persons died. The worst air disaster ever was the crash of a military C124 at Tokyo in 1953, killing 129.
The TWA Constellation carried 64 passengers, mostly TWA employes or relatives of employes, and six crew members. United's craft had 53 passengers and a crew of five aboard.
The first word that the planes were in trouble came from Winslow, in northern Arizona. The Civil Aeronautics Administration reported it started a search for the planes at 11:46 a. m., after trying unsuccessfully for an hour to establish radio contact.

REPORTS UNCONFIRMED
As the Air Force civil aviation authorities and law enforcement agencies throughout northern Arizona organized for a search, there was a flurry of reports that wreckage of one of both planes had been spotted. None could be confirmed immediately.
The TWA plane left Los Angeles International Airport at 10:01 a. m., bound for Kansas City via Doggett, Calif., Trinidad, Colo., and Dodge City, Kan. It was last reported at 10:55 a. m., over Lake Mohave, a Colorado river lake on the California border.
The United craft took off three minutes later, headed for New York via Needles, Calif., Painted Desert. Ariz., Durango and Pueblo, Colo., Hutchinson, Kan., St. Joseph, Mo., Joliet, Ill., Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Newark, N. J. The last report from it was at Needles, at 10:58 a. m.

Continued on page 2

Comments

COMMENT ON AIRLINE CRASH MEMORIAL REPORT

There was a Lt. Joseph M Levis Jr USMC on board United 718 and his hometown is listed as North Attleboro, MA....Indeed his name is engraved on a head stone at Grand Canyon National Park..

thank you

Mary -- thank you very much for this update information. As a transcriber I only enter the article as written in the mentioned newspaper (sometimes adding information I find on line). If the newspaper is in error, I transcribe that error. I appreciate very much when someone takes the time to correct my article transcription. Thank you very much.
Stu

Correction on Airline Crash Memorial Report, GC Cemetery

Contrary to the transcriber's report, Lt. Joseph M. Laughlin Jr. is not listed on the Aircraft Accident Memorial at Grand Canyon Pioneer Cemetery and, according to my research, Lt. Laughlin's name was not mentioned as a victim in newspaper articles relating to the June 30, 1956 airline disaster because he wasn't on United 718. The Laughlin listed on our memorial is Sally Lou Laughlin. Our Grand Canyon Pioneer Cemetery has the remains of 31 unidentified victims of the United 718 crash in 4 coffins beneath the memorial tomb. I visited the cemetery on April 19, 2009 and happened to take photos of the memorial, so I studied the names carefully before replying to your report. Lt. Joseph M. Laughlin's name is not to be found. Likewise, I found nothing showing Lt. Laughlin was a crew member or passenger on United 718. Original reports show 29 names, with 2 names later added to the list (31 total) The names on our memorial agree with that list. If you have info from family or others that Lt. Laughlin was indeed on this flight, please advise.

Thanks, Mary
American Legion John Ivens Post 42 of Grand Canyon



article | by Dr. Radut