San Diego, CA Jet Liner and Small Aircraft Collide, Sep 1978

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San Diego (AP) -- Investigators want to know why two planes -- a Boeing 727 passenger tri-jet and a tiny Cessna -- collided in clear skies over San Diego after both pilots had radioed they could see the other plane.
With the death toll at 150 and climbing, it was the worst disaster in U. S. aviation history.
A Pacific Southwest Airlines jet with 135 persons aboard and a rented Cessna 172 with a student pilot and instructor aboard collided at 9:03 a.m. yesterday, killing everyone on both planes.
At least 10 more persons died on the ground when bits of bodies and burning wreckage tore into homes in the North Park neighborhood about three miles northeast of Lindbergh Airport.
"Both planes were given air traffic advisories that they were in the same area and both aircraft acknowledged that they had the other plane in sight, " said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman BRUCE CHAMBERS in Los Angeles.
Officials had no immediate explanation for the cause. Visibility at the time of the crash was 10 miles.
Tape recordings from the airliner cockpit and the airport control tower were given to the National Transportation Safety Board for analysis.
In Washington, meanwhile, JOHN O'DONNELL, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, criticized the Federal Aviation Administration for not pushing development of warning equipment designed to prevent an aerial collision such as this.
The technology has been available for many years, O'DONNELL said in written congressional testimony prepared before yesterday's collision. He was scheduled to testify today at a House subcommittee hearing that has been scheduled for some time.
He said ALPA wants a collision avoidance system, known as CAS, installed in aircraft to give pilots direct, immediate knowledge of any impending threat.
At the crash site "there were pieces of body everywhere," said W. T. BRADBURY, a police officer. "Parts of bodies were sticking into a wall. I hope I never see anything like it again."
Emergency crews worked through the night, separating corpses from the still smouldering wreckage in the streets.
"I think we have all the major portions of bodies picked up," said WARREN CHAMBERS of the San Diego coroner's office. "I know the death toll is upwards of 150."
Priests worked alongside emergency crews as they put dozens of corpses into yellow body bags and stacked them in refrigerated vans in 100-degree heat.
"I anointed at least 50 bodies myself," said the Rev. THOMAS BONICA of St. Augustine High School.

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