Crystal Mountain, CO Airplane Crash, Jun 1951
Wreckage of UAL Mainliner with 50 Aboard Found Strewn in Tiny Pieces over Hague's Peak Area.
Cheyenne, Wyo., June 30 -- (AP) -- The scattered wreckage of a missing United Airlines DC6 has been sighted in the foothills of the Rockies 25 miles west of Fort Collins, Colo., the Wyoming director of aeronautics reported today.
The director, Ralph Johnson, said he saw the debris of the plane which carried 50 persons, scattered over at least 150 yards, from his search plane.
"The knoll on which the wreckage was seen was at an altitude of about 8,600 feet," Johnson reported by radio to the Civil Aeronautics Administration station here.
The plane was last heard from at 1:46 a. m. (Mountain Standard Time) when it reported conditions normal as it passed over Cheyenne.
The flight was en-route from San Francisco to Chicago by way of Salt Lake City, Denver and Omaha, one of the first after a 10-day pilot strike.
Johnson, who had been in the air since before noon on the hunt, said that he estimated the largest piece of the wreckage was part of the tail section about eight-feet long and two feet wide.
He remained at the scene, flying around above the crash site awaiting instructions.
The area in which the mangled craft was sighted is near the foot of Hague's peak, some 50 miles southwest of Cheyenne and near the northeast corner of Rocky Mountain National park. (Hague's peak is in the Mummy range, north of Trail Ridge. It is at the source of the North Fork of the Big Thompson).
Fears that the plane might have got off its course and into the mountainous area had been expressed earlier by a United Air Lines official, who announced that the search had shifted to the mountains.
Johnson, a former United Air Lines test pilot, told the CAA control tower at Cheyenne he had "positively identified" the wreckage as that of the missing airliner.
United Air Lines at Denver reported it could not confirm the report.
Johnson said trees in the area appear to have been burned. He said the huge craft appeared to have been heading southwest, somewhat off the north-south airline from Cheyenne to Denver.
Johnson spotted the wreckage about 1:15 P. M. mountain standard time.
He was instructed by CAA officials at Cheyenne to lead a United Air Lines search plane from Fort Collins to the scene.
Ground search parties were being organized at Cheyenne.
At Fort Collins, coroner Harold Warren of Larimer county made plans to start immediately with a rescue squad on the trip which likely will take hours.
The coroner said the party will go up Poudre canyon to Pingree(?) park, a summer camp, and there determine whether the estimated remaining 10 miles can be made by car or whether the party must go on horseback.
The search was concentrated for a time five miles east of Loveland, Colo., and later turned north to Welllington, 75 miles north of Denver, after farmers told of hearing a plane in distress.
However, UAL and peace officers in the search emphasized the reports could not be confirmed.
The first report came from farmer John Uhrich near Loveland, who reported to the state highway patrol he heard what sounded to be a plane crash.
Search craft circled over the farm and vicinity until one newspaperman said it "looks like air force day up here," but there was no sign of the missing transport.
Later, William Coy, a farmer near Wellington, reported hearing the noise of a plane, apparently in trouble, over his place about 5 a. m., mountain standard time.
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