Albany, NY Airplane Crash, Sept 1953

28 Killed As Airliner Crashes, Burns Near Albany After Hitting Radio Towers.

Big Plane Barely Missed Ploughing Into Trailer Camp.

Albany (AP) – All 25 passengers and the three crew members rode to their death yesterday as an American Airlines plane crashed, exploded and burned near Albany Airport after striking two radio towers.

The bodies, most of the scarred by flames, were moved to the St. Peter's Hospital morgue here.

Identification was a slow process.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration, airline officials and State Police began an investigation to determine the cause of the crash. The CAA said its report probably would not be issued for several days.

Some witnesses said the Chicago-bound plane, Flight 723 from Boston, seemed to be having engine trouble before it struck two 365-foot towers of Albany Radio Station WPTR and dived into a lot eight miles west of Albany. Part of a wing and part of a tail were found near the towers, which suffered only minor damage.

The two-engine Convair had been circling over the airport area for about 15 minutes; waiting for ground fog to clear. The plane crashed a half-mile from the radio station towers and 3 ½ miles from the airport control tower, which said it had maintained radio contact with the plane until a few minutes before it hit.

About a dozen victims were thrown from the plane. Others were trapped in the wreckage.

Missed Trailer Camp.
The crew members were Capt. JAMES D. STENTZ of Highland Park, Ill.; 1st Officer WILLIAM J. SCHANKEN of Chicago, and Stewardess JANICE THORNQUIST of Duluth, Minn.

It was uncertain whether STENTZ or SCHANKEN was piloting the craft at the time.

The plane barely missed ploughing into a trailer camp. Sheds near the camp and trees in the area caught fire. Some of the trailers were scorched.

JOHN W. RODD, 23, an ex-Navy pilot who lives near the scene, said he ran to the door of the plane but flames forced him away. He reported that he had heard the engine cut out and then roar as though the pilot had “gunned it.”

MRS. ALPHEN CRAIG, whose trailer-home was scorched by the flames, said she heard the “sound of a motor unnaturally close” but “heavy fog or clouds” prevented her from seeing the crash, ten feet away. Fearful of being trapped in the trailer, she grabbed her ten-month old son, roused her husband and fled to safety.

Rescue workers could do nothing but extinguish the flames and sort out the bodies.

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