Atlanta, GA Chartered Plane Crashes, May 1970
6 KILLED; OVER 30 INJURED AS PLANE HITS CAR IN GA.
Atlanta, Ga. (AP) -- A crippled chartered airliner, carrying prospective real estate buyers to Florida, crashed into a car on a busy highway Saturday while trying to make an emergency landing in rain and fog. Six were killed, including five persons in the car, and more than 30 were injured.
Most of the passengers aboard the twin-engine plane, were from the Atlanta area. They were bound for a weekend in Florida, sponsored by the Lehigh Acres Development Inc. There were 34 persons aboard the plane.
The propeller-driven plane, a Martin 404, had taken off moments before from the Peachtree-DeKalb Airport, several miles across town, headed for Fort Myers, Fla.
It lost power in an engine as it left the airport in rain and a low ceiling and its pilot was directed to come into the big Atlanta Airport.
But the pilot, JAMES CANNIN, flying low for miles, apparently attempted a pancake landing on the highway that sweeps around the city.
The plane, grazed one car and then flattened another on Interstate 285, killing four members of one family on their wa home from a grocery shopping trip.
DeKalb County Police Chief Dick Hand said witnesses told him the low-flying plane went under a high voltage power line approximately 150 feet above the highway, then narrowly managed to clear another overpass before touching the pavement.
"They said the plane struck the car almost at the exact moment it touched down," he said.
The plane dragged the car nearly 400 yards. Then, Hand quoted witnesses as saying, the plane "careened down the highway, spun in a half circle and skidded backwards" into a second overpass.
Hand said the impact sheared off the left wing and tail section and jammed them under the east edge of the viaduct. The main section of the fuselage, the right wing still attached, spun in another half circle and came to rest squarely atop the overpass.
CHARLES PITTMAN, his brother EDDIE and their wives were sitting near the back of the plane but they were moved up front to balance the load.
They later decided the shift might have saved their lives. Just 15 minutes after take off, the rear seats where they had been sitting were scattered along an embankment of the interstate and people were screaming, "Oh God! Oh God!"
MRS. CHARLES PITTMAN said the flight seemed normal, "except the weather -- the plane was moving up and down, giving you a sick feeling in the stomach."
"Then we were coming down," she said. There were no instructions, no warning that we were going in. The 'no smoking' sign was still off and we were still smoking."
She said she looked out and saw treetops and cars on the highway. "I hollered up to my husband, 'CHARLES, get your head down' and the next thing I knew we were all scrambled up like eggs."
The five dead in the car were identified by police as MR. and MRS. JIM BARRON and their two sons, STEVE and BURT, and DANNY ROSHER, 7, reportedly a neighbor. Ages for members of the BARRON family were not immediately available.
The only passenger of the plane to die was MRS. DELMA MATHES of Wilson, N.C. Her husband N. R. MATHES, was among the injured.
CANNIN, the pilot, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was hurt and reported in fair condition at South Fulton Hospital. The co-pilot, ROBERT FELDMILLER of Fort Lauderdale, and Stewardess JEAN COLLINS of Miami, were also in fair condition at the same hospital.
Stewardess JILL ATWATER, also of Miami, was treated at a hospital and released.
The plane was chartered at Fort Lauderdale from the Florida AIrcraft Leasing Co.
EDDIE PITTMAN said the two stewardesses had strapped themselves in, but a notebook fell from a shelf and one got up to retrieve it. Then the plane hit the roadway."
"She went flying past me," PITTMAN said. "I reached out and tried to grab her but I couldn't." He said she apparently was thrown through the gaping hole opened when the rear of the aircraft sheared off.
Fifteen year old MARK SCHIENFELD, who was on the plane with his parents, said that when the plane stopped, people opened emergency exits and began clambering out.
"We jumped out through the hole in the back," said MARK.
"I walked out and saw some people lying on the ground...some of them couldn't get up."
The Bridgeport Post Connecticut 1970-05-31