Miami, FL Plane Crashes On Street, June 1969


Miami (AP) -- A DC4 cargo plane trying to circle back to Miami International Airport with an engine afire crashed in a busy, building-lined street here Monday, strewing flaming debris and wreckage along a four-block path.
At least 11 people were killed, including the four crew members and seven people on the ground, said Miami police information officer Gaddy Rawls.
Another dozen were hurt and Rawls said reports of people who received minor injuries were coming in steadily.
Two of the victims were teen aged boys, killed when the plane demolished their father's automobile body shop. Two other people in the shop were killed, Rawls said.
He also listed a couple walking along the street among the victims. Another man was killed when he swerved his truck to avoid the plane and smashed into a utility pole.
Witnesses said the Carvan, a four engine plane converted for carrying automobiles and owned by Dominicana Air Line came down atop a three-story building about a half mile northeast of the airport.
The craft then skipped along the tops of several other buildings knocking off their tops. It mowed down telegraph poles and power lines and ignited gasoline spilled from overturned pumps at a service station.
The plane also spewed hundreds of gallons of flaming gas oline from its own tanks before it finally stopped in the middle of busy 36th Street in front of a used car lot.
Fourteen fire trucks sped to the disaster scene and every available police emergency unit in the city began aiding the injured and recovering bodies.
A Roman Catholic priest who arrived at the scene immediately after the first thunderous explosion said last rites to seven victims.
One building demolished was a two-story structure which housed the shop of CHARLES KNAPP. He survived the blast.
"Am I the only one that got out?" he asked a neighbor EDWARD BURMESTER as he staggered from the wreckage. His sons, CLYDE, 17, and CLIFFORD, 15, were listed among the victims.
The twisted wreckage stopped near 36th Street and 33rd Avenue, a scant two blocks south of the teeming Miami Beach Airport Expressway. Thousands of on lookers soon jammed the area. Their automobiles filled the huge parking lot of the Miami Jai Alai Fronton near the crash site.
Police cordoned off the area, covered the bodies in rubber shrouds and established an emergency command post at the scene.
"Wreckage is scattered along a four block area. It looks as if every building for five blocks was damaged. I can't count all of the burned cars in the street and on the lot," a reporter said.
A spokesman for the air line said the pilot radioed immediately after takeoff an engine was afire and he was trying to ditch the craft in the narrow Miami River, when he saw he couldn't make the airport.
A used car lot office was demolished and dozens of cars destroyed.
More than two dozen firemen and rescue workers dug into a 25 foot high pile of rubble and wreckage at the car lot.
Thirty-sixth Street is a main east-west traffic artery running toward the airport. The plane came down headed northwest.
Police said one of the injured persons was hurt when he attempted to swerve his car out of the planes path and smashed into a utility pole.
"Wrecked and burned cars are all over the place," said a reporter. "Every car in the lot was burned out."
The flaming fuselage came to rest at the edge of the street. One engine completely crushed one of the automobiles.
A witness, schoolteacher NORMAI WHITE, said she was conducting a government class on the fourth floor at the Aviation Building near the crash site.
"We saw the plane coming at the fourth floor level. I have 20 students in my class and as they saw the plane they all started yelling, so I ran to the windows."
"When I saw how low the plane was, I thought it was a crop-duster. The black smoke was coming out ... by then it had swerved away from the Aviation Building, and up a couple of blocks and then crashed almost immediately. It looked to us as though it exploded within seconds."
A spokesman for the airlines, said the plane was en route to the Dominican Republic with general cargo aboard. "We know they had an engine on fire and tried to make the river but that's all we know now," he said.
George Hurt of the FAA said the downed plane was Flight 401. He confirmed it was bound for the Dominican Republic.
Dominica Air Lines identified the four crew members as:
CARLOS BRADOS, the co-pilot.
CESR MOLINA, assistant engineer.

The Playground Daily News Ft.Worth Beach Florida 1969-06-24


The First of Two Plane Crashes in the Melrose Area

I was ten when this first crash occurred in our Melrose neighborhood. I was home alone when I heard the noise. I called our neighbor and asked her what had happened. When she told me I was terrified. My father had a friend with a gas station/garage across from the medical center on 36th St. Fortunately, he was okay. This was the first crash. The second was about four years later on 30th St. between 32nd and 31st avenues. A Lockheed Constellation carrying a load of Christmas trees came down. Being older I remember much more about this one. Also it was much closer to our house. I remember the smells from this crash (including the smell of pine trees) as if it were yesterday. The indentations, made by parts of the plane, remained in the pavement of the parking lot at the Kopy Kat (on the corner at 32nd Ave.) for years afterwards. Miraculously, there were two brothers who survived this crash, but their parents did not. I have often wondered about them.

Just thinking about Clyde

I knew Clyde from Miami High School where we were both in the chorus. I was pretty much an "outsider" having transferred from another school but I remember Clyde as being a very likable guy and always seemed to be in a great mood.
I also remember the plane crash and that surreal feeling and how devastating it was to everyone at the school, not just Clyde’s immediate friends and classmates. We didn't have "Grief Counselors" back then so we had to process it the best we could; with our parents, teachers and friends from school and It took quite a while to come to terms with losing someone you know at that young age.
I don't know why I was thinking about Clyde today or why I searched out this site but I guess it's good to know that after almost 50 years someone still has a fond memory of a friend from long ago.

I have just met these boys

I have just met these boys father he is 87 now. I can still see the pain in his eyes.

I believe these are the two

I believe these are the two boys my Mom used to babysit. I remember her telling me about the plane crash.

Clyde and Clifford Knapp

Clifford was my same age, we had went through Kindergarten to High School together. We played ball nearly every afternoon. He lived about a half of a block from me. I was once bitten by their dog when in his front yard trying to get him to come out in play. Those two boys was also my first experience with a person's death. Tragic.

I was seven years old when

I was seven years old when that plane crashed. It went right over our house. I thought it was going to hit our house, we lived on 23rd Street. Airplanes often flew over our house but I had never seen one that low. My brother and my father where in Miami about two blocks the other direction from where the plane finally stopped. one of the engines became detached and flew through the air almost hitting a man that jumped over a wall where the engine hit.

I was too (there on that day the plane went down on 36th St)

I was in Orange Blossom Hobbies at the time. I don't remember hearing the crash, but the lights went out, so we walked out through the exit on 36 St, and a block or 2 away the whole World was on fire. I was 11 years old. Thanks for posting. JB

I was there.

Next to the medical building which the left wing hit, there was a camera store. I was in the store with my father when we heard a loud engine racing down the street. My father, said go see what that is. I ran out the front door and immediately looked east where the noise was. In amazement I saw this converted DC-4 (Carvair) in the middle of the street. In a heartbeat it passed over me and the left wing hit the medical building. It nosed into the paint and body shop and exploded. I was looking at everything trying to understand what was going on. The traffic lights were swinging like a button on a string. I was 13 years old at the time but this is something I will always remember.


I met Mr. Knapp today, a great respectable person, very humble, he told me about his good times and when everything was beautiful until that tragic day.. His wife passed away some years ago but he still remembers those great times with his family and will never forget about his boys.. God bless him!

I too, knew the knapp

I too, knew the knapp brothers from Troop 301 near the Miami River. I also knew Clydd from Miami High. I was working at Alexander's Car Rental directly across the street from the runway the plane would have used to land. As I was walking through hallway at the agency an agent asked me if he I heard the building shake. I responded that I didn't and preceded out the door to have a look around. I looked around to the east and North from my location and spotted a black plume of very dark smoke. I just didn't want to believe these friends were know gone. I heard that their dad was sparred because he stepped out to buy a pack of cigarettes.