Bishop, CA Television Film Crew Dies In Crash, Mar 1974
FLAMING PLANE CRASH KILLS 36.
Bishop, Calif. (UPI) -- A huge black scar below the snow line on White Mountain Peak marked the spot Thursday where 36 persons were killed in the flaming crash of a propeller plane carrying a television film crew home from location.
The Convair 440 slammed into the side of a ridge at the 7,000-foot level as it missed clearing it Wednesday night possibly by less than 100 feet. The 44-passenger twin engine plane exploded into flames on impact, scattering bodies and debris over the mountain side.
UPI photographer BOB FLORA flew over the area in Inyo National Forest in daylight Thursday and reported:
"There's a big black scar in the brown dirt on the side of the mountain. It hit close to the top of the ridge. The tail section broke off and parts of the plane went over the top. The tail section is really the only recognizable part left -- the rudder and the vertical stabilizers were left virtually intact."
"I was told some bodies were strewn over the top and on the other side of the ridge. Some deputies said they thought the plane hit about 100 feet before the ridge -- I think it was only 40-50 feet below the top."
The dead included 31 members of the cast and film crew of the ABC-TV "Primal Man" television series and five plane crew members. The plane was chartered from Sierra Pacific Airlines which is a scheduled line plying between Los Angeles and ski resorts in the high Sierra near the California-Nevada border.
The crash scene was in an almost inaccessible area but members of a volunteer rescue team made their way to it on foot and guided Inyo County sheriff's deputies.
Helicopters were on hand from the Air Force and the Navy to ferry the bodies to a temporary morgue at Bishop.
ED WALDAPFEL, information officer for the U. S. Forest Service at Inyo National Forest said the plane was traveling south and hit the east-west slope close to the top.
"It crashed on the western slope," he said. "It nosed in just below the ridge. The tail section looked to be about 100 yards below the top."
The film crew had been in the Mammoth Lakes area filming the third of the series "Primal Man: Struggle for Survival." The series dramatizes the evolution of human beings from animal ancestors into primitive men.
Among the victims were the series director, DENNIS AZZARELLA, and actor JANOS PROHASKA who once played a comic bear character on the old Andy Williams television series.
Other victims were AZZARELLA'S fiance, IRENE BUNDY, PROHASKA'S son ROBERT and performers RICK ACKERMAN, LOREN RAYMOND, "FISH" PASHBURN, GENE CARVAL, JIM DICKSON and JACKIE TANG.
A seven-man team from the National Transport Safety Board in Washington, D. C., was sent to the crash scene. Federal Aviation Administration investigators from Los Angeles and Tonopah, Nev., also were at the scene.
Two large military helicopters ferried investigators and coroner's officers into the crash site on Forest Service land seven miles from Bishop.
The plane took off at 8:24 p.m. PDT and slammed into the ridge at the 7,000-foot level less than five minutes later. It exploded in a ball of flame seen by an Inyo County deputy sheriff.
MIKE ANTONIO, a helicopter pilot, flew DR. DAVID SHELDON of Bishop to the crash scene immediately and they reported all aboard dead.
"The plane smacked hard into the ridge and spread wreckage for 300 feet," ANTONIO said. "There wasn't much left of the plane -- only the tail section, part of an engine and not much else. All of it was burning."
ANTONIO said the bodies were badly burned.
A Forest Service spokesman said the fire burned only a little sagebrush and did not spread. Snow patches dotted the landscape.
Pilot of the plane was Capt. ALBERT EVANS, 50, of Torrance. Crewmembers were PAUL DENNIS, 27, Pasadena, ROBERT WEST, 52, Torrance, stewardess MARY PARKER, 19, Paramount. and JAMES STEINLAUF, 27, Marina Del Rey.
Galveston Daily News Texas 1974-03-13
Flight Crew And Passenger List
CAPT. ALBERT J. EVANS, 50, Pilot.
First Officer PAUL T. DENNIS, 26, Co-Pilot.
Pilot HAROLD R. WEST, 45, Observer Pilot On Flight.
MARY JOANNE PARKER, 19, Flight Attendant.
JAMES E. STEINLAUF, passenger service representative for Sierra Pacific.
ROBERT PROHASKA, stuntman, son of JANOS.
EUGENE E. DARVAL.
JACQUELI C. "JACKIE" TANG.
RICHARD P. ACKERMAN.
DR. LOREN M. RAYMOND.
Production staff members.
DENNIS R. AZZARELLA, Director/Writer.
JOEL ROSEN, Personal Assistant to Director.
IRENE G. BUNDE, fiance of DENNIS AZZARELLA.
ANTHONY R. MAZZOLA, assistant director.
ALBERT C. KIHN, camerman.
DAVID E. AYVAZIAN, assistant cameraman.
BILL LUCAS, assistant cameraman.
DONALD H. JACOB, key grip.
JOHN W. "BILL" SAVOY, transportation.
JAY P. "FISH" FISHBURN, representative of the American Humane Association.
BILL MILLER, make up artist.
ROLF J. MILLER, make up artist.
JIM PHILLIPS, make up artist.
IRVING A. PRINGLE, make up artist.
CHARLES A. SORKIN, make up artist.
RUSTY CARTER, propmaster.
ROBERT D. "BOBBY" JONES, gaffer.
ALAN W. HOFFMAN, wardrobe specialist.