Los Angeles, CA Commuter Helicopter Crashes, Aug 1968
DEMAND PROBE INTO CAUSE OF COPTER CRASH.
ORDER CRAFT GROUNDED FOR INQUIRY.
All Los Angeles Airways commuter helicopters were grounded today while an investigation was conducted into the crash of one Wednesday which killed 21 persons in an effort to determine if mechanical failure or man-made sabotage was the cause.
Supervisor KENNETH HAHN, meantime, demanded the FBI be called into the case saying, "this could be a man-made accident as well as or instead of mechanical failure."
HAHN'S office said FBI agents visited the scene of the crash in Compton Wednesday night with the supervisor, but the FBI said today it lacked jurisdiction because Los Angeles Airways is a purely local line.
Meantime, the coroner's office worked to identify the bodies of the victims, who included the grandson of the president of the line, a recently retired San Francisco police captain, his wife, his daughter, and 8-year-old grand-daughter.
The twin-turbine Sikorsky S61L helicopter lost its tail rotor and plunged to earth in a Compton playground Wednesday morning in a crash remarkably similar to one that took 23 lives in Paramount last May.
In crashed in Pop Leuder's Park, Rosecrans Avenue and Bullis Road, about 50 feet away from a playground where children were playing. All aboard were killed either on impact or in the explosion and flames which followed.
It was the third worst commercial helicopter crash in the United States. The worst, involving a New York Airways helicopter in 1963, killed 33 passengers and three crewmen.
The crash of the Los Angeles Airways helicopter in May ranks as the second worst such disaster.
A spokesman for Sikorsky Aircraft reached by telephone in Stratford, Conn., declined specific comment on the crashes but said they were the first reported as a result of the loss of tail rotors in flight.
The spokesman said nearly 600 of the huge helicopters have been supplied the military since production began in 1960 and that 32 commercial models have been delivered.
Asked specifically if any crashes blamed on losses of tail rotors have been reported either by military or civilian users of the craft, he said "just those two out there."
Aboard the craft that crashed Wednesday were a crew of three and 18 passengers.
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