Burbank, CA American Airlines Plane Crashes, Jan 1945
PLANE VICTIMS BADLY BURNED.
Los Angeles, Jan. 11 -- (U.P.) -- From blackened military insignia and other identifying marks, Army and airline officials today sought to identify the burned bodies of 24 persons killed when an American Airlines passenger plane crashed in the foothills after turning away from the fog-shrouded Burbank airport early yesterday.
The victims included 18 Army men, three sailors and three crew members. All apparently were killed instantly, when the plane plowed into the slope and exploded, investigators said.
The plane bound from New York, was due at the airport shortly after 3:39 a.m.
At 4 a.m., the pilot, Capt. JOSEPH RUSSELL McCAULEY, 34, reported to the Burbank control tower and was advised that fog limited visibility.
Headed For Palmdale.
With sufficient gasoline for an additional three and a half hours, McCAULEY elected to try landing at an emergency field at Palmdale, 60 miles away, rather than attempt a Burbank landing.
The plane was not heard from again. Six hours later the fog lifted temporarily and the wreckage was sighted from the control tower. Search parties were delayed another two hours in reaching the scene by the brush-covered terrain and mist.
Lockheed Test Pilot JOE TOWLE, the first to arrive at the wreckage, located just five miles from the airport, reported all the occupants dead. A small brush fire had been started by flames from the smouldering wreckage, but had burned out.
Chunks of the silver ship were scattered over the hillside. Pieces of tail and wings and one section of the fuselage had been tossed clear of the flames.
Civil Aeronautics Administration Inspector ROBERT V. KEELER said that the plane appeared headed on a roundabout northeastward route through the rugged San Gabriel mountains. The most traveled route was through Mint Canyon.
The dead crew members in addition to McCAULEY were: ROBERT G. ELTNER, 24, co-pilot, and LILA A. DOCKEN,22, stewardess. All were from Burbank.