Mt. Bountiful, UT Airliner Crashes, Nov 1940
Stewardess EVELYN SANDINO of Oakland, a U.A.L. employe since last July.
Since 1934 three transports have crashed into the Wasatch, all within close range of Salt Lake City and with a total death list, including yesterday's of 37.
For United Airlines, said Stanley O. Holberg, its district traffic manager, the accident was the first involving fatality or injury, in 500,000,000 passenger miles.
Official investigation of the crash began today. On hand to conduct hearings and examine evidence were seven representatives of the civil aeronautics bureau from Pacific coast cities, and 12 executives of United Airlines from Oakland and Chicago. The Utah state aeronautics commission also participated.
Scene of the accident was three-fourth of the way from the floor of the valley to the top of the range.
The transport, on a southeasterly heading, smashed into a grove of stunted oak trees. It plowed or bounced 40 feet up the incline, leveling the growth in its path. Another 250 feet higher, was the summit of the ridge and then a gorge, beyond which lay another ridge.
Broken against the body of the plane was its left wing. The fuselage itself was snapped in two just forward of the tail, the pilots' compartment completely exposed, the interior of the cabin wrecked and the right wing twisted but still largely intact.
Both engines were jerked from their mountings and lay in jagged heaps on the ground. Pieces of scrap metal were scattered wildly.
The wreckage was spotted by circling aircraft shortly before noon, and immediately ground parties started the ascent from the valley, with the first reaching the scene about two-thirty p.m.
There was no indication that any of the crash victims survived even momentarily nor that the pilots anticipated immediate peril. The passengers' safety belts seemed not to have been fastened, and it did not appear that the wheels of the retractable landing gear had been in "down" position.
First evidence that a prime contributing cause to the crackup was temporary failure, partial or complete of the federal airways' radio directional control system.
"It looks very much as if the accident was caused by failure of the range or radio beam," said S. V. Hall of Oakland, U.A.L. vice president in charge of western operations.
"Our trip No. 11 reported that the range had irregularities at five thirty-six a.m."
Hall said the beam was reported functioning correctly at four twenty-four a.m., but apparently failed about the time Captain FEY was approaching Salt Lake City.
The airplane's chronometer stopped at three thirty-nine, and from that evidence it was believed the accident occurred at four thirty-nine a.m., mountain time, the ship's clock having been set on Pacific standard time. SANDEGREN was in communication with the control tower here shortly before four thirty-nine.
Flying conditions at the moment of the crash were completely "blind," with the mountains blanketed in clouds and visibility, even at lower altitudes, reduced to virtually zero by swirling snow.
FEY was a flier of 17 years experience and had been on the Oakland-Salt Lake City run since 1938. SANDEGREN, like FEY a former army flier, had been with U.A.L. three years.
Ogden Standard Examiner Utah 1940-11-05
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