Tell City, IN Turbojet Explodes In Midair, Mar 1960
PROBE CRASH KILLING 63
BIG TURBOJET FALLS IN SOUTHERN INDIANA.
Tell City, Ind. (UPI) -- Deepest mystery today cloaked the explosion of a Northwest Airlines passenger plane which sent 63 persons plunging 18,000 feet to a fiery death and turned a southern Indiana soybean field into a wasteland of horror.
FBI agents and Civil Aeronautics Board experts said they would check on all possibilities for the cause of the crash including bomb sabotage.
The chance that the $2,400,000 turbojet Electra may have been destroyed by a bomb was raised after a man telephoned Chicago police that "there's a bomb on a plane at Midway" airport. The call came a few hours after the doomed plane took off from Chicago's Midway AIrport Thursday on a flight to Miami.
However, a police investigation turned up nothing. The mystery remained unsolved.
Authorities were checking on sales of insurance to passengers on the plane.
The doomed flight originated at Minneapolis and made one stop at Chicago to pick up passengers. It took off from Chicago at 2:39 p.m. It crashed east of here at 3:20 p.m. The weather was good.
The stricken four-engined plane -- which carried 57 passengers and a crew of six -- came down in pieces. Wreckage was strewn for five miles. Federal investigators were confronted with a baffling problem.
Indiana state police Supt. HOWARD S. ZEIS ordered National Guardsmen to block off a 20 square mile area around the crash scene to keep away hundreds of spectators converging on the area.
ZEIS said six helicopters would fly over the rugged countryside to search out every piece of wreckage.
The crash site was a picture out of a book of horrors.
Flesh and tattered pieces of clothing hung from trees. A rescuer picked up a pair of shoes with the laces still tied but no feet in them.
Among the litter was a Roman Catholic prayer book opened to the litany "Lord have mercy on us."
The fuselage of the plane plunged through a 13-inch snow blanket and dug a 25 foot crater in the rich Indiana bottomland. Smoke curled from the crater during the night. Floodlights cast a yellow glow over the scene.
Cranes and large earth moving equipment were called in to remove the wreckage and to recover any bodies that might be imbedded in the ground.
"The plane is so deep in the ground it's almost out of sight," a coroner's official said.
The dead included five children. Most were from Minneapolis and Chicago.
Among the victims were:
Judge JOHN A SHARBARO of Chicago, 71-year-old jurist who helped prosecute Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb for the "crime of the century" murder of little Bobby Franks in the 1920's.
The wife and three children of MORRIS CHALFEN, producer of the "Holiday on Ice" skating shows. They were frlying from their Minneapolis home to a Florida vacation.
MASAMI NAKAMURA, 43, a Tokyo police superintendent touring the United States.
MRS. ANDY FRAIN of Chicago, mother of six and wife of the nation's top expert on controlling crowds at such gatherings as the World Series and presidential conventions.
ROBERT L. OARE, 47, of South Bend, Ind.
J. H. SUNDERLIN, of South Bend.
MRS. BACHEMER, of South Bend.
The pilot, Capt. ED LA PARLE, 57, Minneapolis, had given no indication of any trouble.
As the plane cruised through clear weather over southern Indiana at a height of 18,000, LA PARLE, a veteran of 23 years flying radioed he was having "no difficulty." That was 15 minutes before the crash.
As the big craft passed over the hilly, scenic country only 12 (rest of article is missing.)
WITNESSES DESCRIBE TRAGEDY.
Tell City, Ind. (AP) -- These are the ways Hoosiers remember -- and try to explain -- the awful sight and sound of a crashing airliner:
CYRIL POWERS: "I was just inside my barn and I heard two explosions. They weren't loud. It was more like two shots. I went outside and looked up. It was cloudy and the first thing I could see was a wing come through the clouds. Then the rest of the plane came through and it still had the left wing on it. The plane was falling at less than a 45-degree angle, almost straight down. I heard an explosion after it hit the ground and saw clothing and stuff blow up in the air. The concussion nearly knocked me to the ground."
ALBERT HARPE: "I saw an awful big plane coming down end over end. Two parts were coming down. It's so messed up, I can just say it looks terrible."
THEODORE WILSON: "I heard an explosion. I saw this plane falling. It hit the ground and blew up again. I was in World War II and I've heard plenty of sounds like the explosion from the air before. It sounded like a 500-pounder or a 16-inch shell exploding up in the sky. Parts of the fuselage, mail, bodies and debris of all kinds were scattered all over."
The Hammond Times Indiana 1960-03-18
PASSENGER LIST ON FATAL PLANE.
St. Paul, Minn. (UPI) -- Northwest Airlines Thursday released a list of passengers who boarded the plane at Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport.
GEORGE HEUCHERT, Winnipeg, Canada.
MRS. GEORGE HEUCHERT.
JOSEPH BOWMAN, Opalocka, Fla.
MRS. MORRIS CHALFEN and Infant, Minneapolis.
LINDA CHALFEN, 5, same address.
DEBBIE CHALFEN, 7, same address.
JOHN TERESI, Minneapolis.
MICK KUNHEL, Minneapolis.
M. B. MILLER, Fargo, N.D.
MRS. V. R. EWING, Sioux Falls, S.D.
WILLIAM ELLER, JR., Pompano Beach, Fla.
WARNER MICKUS, Minneapolis.
L. A. WATSON, Minneapolis.
E. R. GARDNER, Winnipeg, Canada.
DEREK GARDNER, Winnipeg, Canada.
D. LINKRAUM, address unknown.
MRS. ANNA WOLD, (maid traveling with CHALFEN family).
Boarding the plane at Chicago's Midway airport were:
H. SNYDER, Chicago.
MR. and MRS. FINEMAN, believed of Milwaukee or Green Bay, Wis.
MISS L. SHRINE, Evanston, Ill.
MISS L. FLEMING, Evanston, Ill.
Two persons named DUNCAN, no address.
MR. ZAUGE, no address.
MARION DUFAULI, Chicago.
WILLIAM HALPERIN, Chicago.
MRS. S. DRUMMOND, no address.
MISS D. VANDERPLOGG, Chicago.
J. W. ROSE, vice-president Libby, McNeill and Co., Chicago.
MR. and MRS. S. TRANOS, Chicago. (Incentive winners of Serta Mattress Co. contest).
R. LAVERY, Chicago.
DR. and MRS. S. TELSER and son, DAVID, Chicago.
MRS. C. J. LUNDY, Chicago.
MISS M. JACKSON, Chicago.
MISS or MRS. GUND, no address.
J. R. GLENNON, Chicago.
MR. NAKAMURA, Japan. (last known address, Sheridan Towers, Chicago.)
MR. IKEDI, Japan. (last known address, Sheridan Towers, Chicago.)
D. OSBORNE, no address.
MRS. A. FRANE, Chicago.
J. H. SUNDERLIN, South Bend, Ind.
OARE L. DARE, South Bend, Ind.
MRS. J. W. WELLS, address believed to be Denver.
MRS. WELLS' daughter, KAY, 5.
H. MEYERS, Chicago.
JUDGE SHARBARO, Chicago.
J. RODGERS, no address.
A. G. THOMPSON, no address.
MISS SHERRY SMITH, Chicago.
MR. WILLIAMS, address believed to be Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
MR. BACHMER, believed to be from South Bend, Ind.
MRS. GENTILE, Milwaukee.
Wisconsin State Journal Madison 1960-03-18
(Transcriber's Note: This catastrophe was caused by the in-flight separation of one of the wings of the turboprop liner. An identical incident happened in September of 1959 with the same type aircraft.
There was not any sabotage involved.)