Hinsdale, IL Plane Crash, Sept 1961

Probing Possibility Bomb on Airliner

TWA Craft Falls Shortly After Midway Takeoff; No Survivors

CHICAGO (AP) - A Trans World Airlines tourist-class airliner with several family groups aboard crashed and burned in a muddy cornfield near suburban Hinsdale early today, minutes after taking off for Los Angeles. All 78 persons aboard were killed.
The big four-engine Constellation exploded and caught fire as it plowed into the rain-soaked ground 10 miles west of Chicago's Midway Airport.
In Washington, the FBI said it had started an investigation of the possibility that a bomb may have caused the crash.
Most of the 73 passengers were embarking on Labor Day holiday visits. Seven were members of one Los Angeles family.

The crash came shortly after a heavy thunderstorm had raked the area.
JERRY BROZ, a farmer whose house south of Hinsdale is only 150 yards from the wreckage, said he heard the big plane roar overhead, then apparently start a turn.
The big plane was heading almost due north when it struck.
"I think he was trying to land," BROZ said. “It might have been done successfully - with all the space here. But something was wrong."

The thunderous explosion caused residents of the area to look first southward, toward Argonne National Laboratories, the Atomic Energy Commission installation which is five miles southwest of the crash scene.
The blast spewed burning oil and scorched the side of BROZ' house, melting the plastic screens on windows. A big wheel assembly rocketed through the side of a corregated[sic] steel machinery shed. Inside the shed later, portions of three bodies were found.
The dead were scattered with debris over an area one-fourth by three-fourth of a mile. Scattered effects included a baby bonnet, a bathrobe, shower clogs, a partly burned dress. There were burst traveling bags and suitcases.

As morning came, a hundred or more officials and workers prepared to collect the bodies. A Red Cross emergency disaster unit crisscrossed the field, driving stakes with numbers on them into the soft mud beside each body.
Then, came the specialist team - a group of police officials. Civil Aeronautics Authority and FBI men, physicians.
The dead were taken to the Cook County Morgue in Chicago.
The plane, with a crew of five, had taken off from Boston en route to Los Angeles, with stops at New York, Pittsburgh and Chicago. The crash occurred at 2 a. m.

First reports indicating that the plane had exploded in the air and crashed in a fiery mass were emphatically challenged by several residents of the area.
CHARLES C. GEORGE, JR. said he heard the big ship's engines roar close by, looked from his bedroom window, and saw the plane's black silhouette skimming about 50 feet above a couple of small trees.
"There was a tremendous roar from the plane's engines," GEORGE said. "The next thing I saw was a huge sheet of flames as the plane hit the ground."
GEORGE HOLUB, 46, a photographer who lived nearby, said he first heard the plane's engines and detected some sputter over a straining roar. "There seemed to be engine trouble," he said. "I saw nothing, but heard the crash," he said.

A spokesman for TWA said: "The plane appeared to be coming from the north" when it crashed. "That is an unusual flight pattern" for a plane going from Chicago to Los Angeles.
The plane, leaving Midway normally would fly west. The crash scene is about 12 miles directly west of Midway Airport and about 1½ miles southwest of Hinsdale, a western suburb of some 15,000 people 20 miles west of downtown Chicago and 35 miles northwest of Hammond.
WILLIAM PAYNE, 42, a plastics worker in a plant in nearby Downers Grove, said he heard the crash and drove to the scene.
"The plane just missed the five homes in the area," PAYNE said. "It came within about 150 feet of one of the homes."

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Comments

James Newlin

James Newlin, the flight engineer, was my uncle Jim. My mother and I were in the kitchen of our home in Maryland listening to the radio when the news came on. When we heard about the crash, my mother said, "that's Uncle Jim's plane", as she knew his route. We were devastated as he was tall, handsome, and a very good person who has been much missed ever since.

Saw a grave in local

Saw a grave in local churchyard dedicated to Remnant Family who died in an air crash in 1961, just googled them and came across this site, it is fascinating to read and so sad for all the victims and their families.

Hinsdale, IL Plane Crash

I just read the above comment. The captain of the plane during the Hinsdale crash was James H. Sanders. Mr. Sanders was the captain of the B-17 my father flew on during WW2. He flew them through 25 missions with no accidents and no loss of life, which was very rare. He and my father were one of the original group of men sent to England to fly bombing missions over Europe. I have researched Mr. Sanders and been in contact with one of his relatives. I did not know that he was a last minute addition to the Hinsdale crew. Mr. Sanders was an amazing pilot - and all of this loss of life and guilt is simply heartbreaking. If you want more information about Mr. Sanders, you can visit my website www.ekmark.wix.com/rumboogie - Rum Boogie was the name of the plane they flew on.
Vicki Ekmark
[email protected]

Correction

The pilot's name was James H. Sanders not James S. Sanders - my apologies.

Hinsdale, IL Plane Crash

Hi Janet,
I was very intrigued by your information above. I had never heard this before. I am interested because the captain of the plane that night, James S. Sanders, was the captain of my dad's B-17 during World War II. They were one of the original cadre of men to go to England to fly bombing missions. Captain Sanders flew 25 missions for the Rum Boogie crew (the name of the plane), and they never crashed or were shot down, which was almost unheard of. He was an amazing pilot. I have a page on my website (dedicated to the RB crew) for Captain Sanders. I have been in contact with relatives of his, but this is the first I knew of this. It is all so heartbreaking - I can imagine the guilt your father must have felt. Feel free to visit my website: www.ekmark.wix.com/rumboogie for more information.

Carol Walls and her infant son were passengers on this flight

I was 7 years old when my Grandmother came to our front door. She told us Carol Walls and her infant baby boy were killed on this doomed TWA flight. Carol was from Streator, IL... She was returning home to
Los Angeles, CA...
Ironically, Carrol was in our hometown for the funeral of our oldest Brother's infant child who died from SIDS. As one can imagine Labor-day was a very difficult for the Olesen family.
RIP: Carol Olesen Walls

Carol Walls and her infant son were passengers on this flight

I was 7 years old when my Grandmother came to our front door. She told us Carol Walls and her infant baby boy were killed on this doomed TWA flight. Carol was from Streator, IL... She was returning home to
Los Angeles, CA...
Ironically, Carrol was in our hometown for the funeral of our oldest Brother's infant child who died from SIDS. As one can imagine Labor-day was a very difficult for the Olesen family.
RIP: Carol Olesen Walls

Roger Berrif

I was born in Jan 62 after Roger died, and he was not aware he had a son. Would like to know more about him. Are you able to help?

You are correct Mr. Lincoln.

You are correct Mr. Lincoln. Thank you for clarifying the matter.

Chamberlain family

Ted Chamberlain and his wife Nancy were my parents' best friends. Ted and my father were both very successful architects working at my father's firm, Stedman & Williams, AIA, in Palo Alto, CA. I remember my parents' horror when they heard about this tragedy.
I remember they were a wonderful family. This crash was the first time I remember people talking about the need for families to split up when they travel by plane (notice how many others victims are families).