Santa Monica Bay, CA Jetliner Plunges Into Ocean On Take Off, Jan 1969
JETLINER, 37 ABOARD, CRASHES INTO OCEAN AFTER TAKEOFF IN LA
ALL ARE FEARED DEAD; MASSIVE BLAST IS HINTED.
Los Angeles (UPI) -- A United Air Lines Boeing 727 jetliner carrying 37 persons crashed into stormy seas during a rainstorm last night only minutes after taking off from the Los Angeles International Airport and all aboard were feared dead.
Rescuers speculated an explosion occurred aboard the big plane.
Three and one-half hours after the crash, three bodies had been found in the ocean along with parts of a fuselage and a U.S. mail bag carrying letters postmarked Saturday.
Hope was grim because UAL domestic flights do not carry liferafts or lifejackets and a Coast Guard spokesman said it looked "very doubtful that there could be anybody alive."
The plane was bound for Denver and Milwaukee and a United official reported that the flight usually carried airline personnel en route to a training program in the Colorado city.
The largest piece of debris recovered was a 10-foot square sectionof insulation from the plane, leading to the speculation of a massive explosion minutes after takeoff.
The first word of trouble came when the pilot told the airport that his fire warning indicator light had gone on and he was shutting down one of its engines.
The first of the bodies was picked up by a lifeguard boat two and one-half hours after the crash nine miles from Marina Del Rey.
Coast Guard cutters and helicopters scoured an area 10 miles west of the airport. The searchers were hampered by heavy swells and rain.
The accident was tragically similar to the crash of a Scandinavian Airlines DC8 last Monday night. The SAS aircraft plunged into the ocean under the same weather conditions while coming in for a landing with the loss of 15 lives. Thirty persons survived.
The plane, FLight 266, took off at 6:20 p.m.
Four minutes after takeoff, the pilot radioed that his fire warning indicator light had gone on and said he had shut down one of his three engines. He was ordered to return to the airport but seconds later disappeared from the radar screen.
Coast Guard helicopters and fixed wing aircraft which rescued 30 survivors of the SAS plane, sped into action two minutes later from their ports at the ocean end of the airport. They used spotlights and dropped flares to light up the dark night.
The harbormaster's office at Marina Del Rey was set to care for possible survivors and local hospitals already caring for some survivors of the SAS tragedy implemented a prepared emergency procedure.
The Coast Guard warned private boats to stay out of the search area 10 miles west of Los Angeles International. Private craft hampered the rescue of the survivors of the SAS plane which had flown in from Copenhagen.