Nr. Atlanta, GA Plane Crash Kills Seven, Injures Eddie Rickenbacker, Feb 1941
EASTERN AIR LINES PLANE CRASHES THIS MORNING TO KILL SEVEN; INJURE NINE.
SHIP MISSES RADIO BEAM NEAR ATLANTA.
RICKENBACKER, WORLD WAR ACE, AMONG INJURED.
Atlanta, Feb. 27 (AP) -- Dropping away from a radio beam an Eastern Air Lines plane ripped itself to pieces in a pine woods near here today, killing seven and injuring nine others, including famed flier EDDIE RICKENBACKER.
The 14-passenger sleeper banged against a wooded knoll shortly after 1 a.m. (EST) while attempting a beam landing after a run from New York but searchers didn't find the wreckage until shortly after dawn when an injured passenger made his way to a phone to call for help.
Five miles from the airport and 700 yards from the nearest dirt road, rescue work was painfully slow and it was not until mid-morning that seven bodies had been removed from the smashed cabin and nine injured taken to hospitals.
At the time Divisions Operations Manager L. H. PABST told newsmen that the death list was ten but a re-check of hospitals and undertakers showed only seven dead, although two or three of the injured were in critical condition.
Undertakers reported seven bodies brought in. Three of these were identified at those of the crew, Captain JAMES PERRY, co-pilot, L. E. THOMAS and Steward CLARENCE MOORE, all of New York.
Other Four Dead.
The other four bodies were those of passengers listed on the official roster as:
Rep. WILLIAM D. BYRON (D-Md.) of Williamsport, Md., B. C. M. VANDERHOOP, Scarsdale, N. Y., JUAN MARIA, San Salvador, Central America, and A. LEIBOWITZ, Atlanta.
Identification of the dead passengers was made difficult by the fact that they were dressed in pajamas, some of them having been asleep in the plane's berths.
Of the nine in hospitals, those in the most serious condition seemed to be RICKENBACKER, who had a broken left leg and back injuries of undetermined extent: H. A. LITTLEDALE, an assistant managing editor of the New York Times from Short Hills, N. J. whose injuries were not determined at once, and MRS. LITTLEDALE.
J. S. ROSENFELD of New Orleans and N. HANSELL of the Bronx, N. Y., both were able to walk away from the shattered plane, the former giving the alarm that brought searchers to the isolated crash scene which is about five miles southeast of the airport and some 15 miles from Atlanta.
Dog Is Assistant.
HANSELL also called help about dawn when he stumbled out of the splintered skyliner, saw a small dog and followed it to the home of farmer J. T. LEE, where he was able to use the phone to call the airport.
The first doctor to reach the scene climbed aboard the half overturned hulk of the cabin to administer hypodermics to the injured, including RICKENBACKER.
The one-time ace war flier was conscious and calmly gave directions for removal of himself and some of the other passengers.
"I lay all night on top of poor MOORE and couldn't move," he said MOORE, the steward, apparently was killed outright.
After being removed, he asked for a second hypodermic and when stretcher-bearers started carrying him down a ravine, the stretcher started to buckle and he said:
"Easy, boys, don't dump me, doesn't anyone know how to work this thing?"
While the injured were placed on stretchers for the laborious trek to the waiting ambulances, the dead were laid in a row beside the torn remains of the $120,000 Douglas bi-motored monoplane.
The ambulances bearing the wounded howled through early morning mist to Atlanta hospitals their speed increased by police cars that served as escorts and blocked sideroads along the winding Jonesboro-Atlanta highway.
No Theories Advanced.
Air line officials were reluctant to discuss any theories on the accident pending further inquiry. The retractable landing gear stood away from the fuselage but it could not be told whether this had been lowered for a forced landing or whether it was torn loose by the impact.
MRS. LITTLEDALE was trapped in the wreckage, pinned down by a fallen tree but when rescuers approached she told them:
"I'm all right, see what you can do to help the others."
LITTLEDALE and his wife, who is editor of Parents' Magazine, were en route to Mexico on a vacation trip.
The plane fell miles from a paved highway and about 700 yards from the nearest dirt road on which ambulances could travel, so that the injured had to be carried this distance across a muddy cornfield.
ROSENFELD was thrown clear of the plane and made his way about 20 yards in the darkness, where he fell into a ditch. Injured and shocked, he lay there until dawn when he made his way to the farm home of C. C. SHERMAN near Morrow which is about five miles south of the airport.
SHERMAN took him to a small store, and ROSENFELD telephoned for help shortly after 6 a.m.
BRADY, who lay injured near the plane's wreckage, kept shouting to rescuers:
"For God's sake, don't light any mathes or cigarettes. You'll burn us up."
High test gasoline was dripping from the wrecked plane.
The plane first struck among some pines, ripping away one of its metal-covered wings and mowing a path through the trees. It crashed another 150 yards or so where a pine impaled the second wing and the sliced open cabin skidded to a stop some 50 yards further.
No Trouble Indicated.
ROSENFELD said the passengers had no indication that anything was wrong until the plane started losing altitude, then the lights went out and the impact came a few seconds later.
Air line officials said the plane came in at 4,000 feet over Stone Mountain some 20 miles east of Atlanta, dropped down to 1,800 over the airport and reported it was "on the beam." Since the ceiling was only 300 feet because of low clouds and rain, it was decided to bring the sleeper in on a radio triangle and it was not heard from again by the field after it swung away on these invisible guidelines used for landings when weather cuts visibility.
When the plane failed to return to the airport, EAL officials quickly organized searching parties and sent them to Jonesboro while planes were made ready to take the air at daylight. Some of the searchers went from farm to farm by automobile to inquire if anyone had head a crash. Others were forced to rely on horses and mules to help them make a house-to-house check along the muddy clay roads.
RICKENBACKER Noted Racer.
EDWARD V. RICKENBACKER was a noted auto racer in the pre-war years, having set a world's speed record of 134 miles an hour in a Blitzen Benz at Daytona Beach in 1914, when he was a youth of 24.
Enlisting in 1917 as a chauffeur to General JOHN J. PERSHING he soon found this pace too slow and entered the Air Corps, soloed after a dozen lessons and downed his first enemy plane on May 2, 1918. War's end found him top American Ace with 21 official victories, and the hat-in-the-ring emblem of his squadron one of the most feared in the skies.
After the war he manufactured and automobile bearing his name and when this venture failed, he returned to an old love as operator of the Indianapolis motor speedway.
His connection with Eastern Air Lines began in 1934 and under his guidance the company made great advances in its field. Daring himself in the air, he preached caution to his operating personnel and helped build a record unmarred by any major crash.
Rep. BYRON, 45-year-old Danville, Va., native, also has a flying background, having served as an air corps lieutenant in the World War.
CASUALTIES ARE LISTED.
Atlanta, Feb. 27 -- (AP) -- The casualty list in a crash today of an Eastern Air Lines New York-Atlanta plane, as established by hospital records and the passenger list.
Captain JAMES PERRY, New York.
Co-Pilot L. E. THOMAS, New York.
Steward CLARENCE MOORE, New York.
Rep. WILLIAM D. BYRON (D-Md.) Williamsport, Md.
A. LEIBOWITZ, 441 Peachtree Street, Atlanta.
B. C. M. VANDERHOOP, 17 Sage Terrace, Scarsdale, N. Y.
Another passenger unidentified but believed by EAL officials to be:
JUAN MARIA, San Salvador, Central America.
The injured, available information on their injuries and the hospitals to which they were taken:
President EDDIE RACKENBACKER of Eastern Air Lines, broken leg, back injuries, forehead gash - serious. Piedmont hospital.
ROY B. SEWELL, Habersham road, Atlanta, left eye injured - not serious. Piedmont hospital.
P. L. BRADY, 118-07 Lewiston Ave., Hollis N. Y., broken right leg - not serious. Piedmont hospital.
GEORGE FINEBURG, 340 Riverside Drive, New York. no details - not serious. Piedmont hospital.
J. S. ROSENFELD, 4165 Vincennes Place, New Orleans - not serious. Piedmont hospital.
H. A. LITTLEDALE, Hardwell Road, Shorty Hills, N. J., no details - not serious. Piedmont hospital.
MRS. H. A. LITTLEDALE - serious. Crawford Long hospital.
C. M. TAPPEN, 120 Broadway, N. Y. - serious condition from shock and exposure. Grady hospital.
N. HANSELL, 5012 Waldo Ave., Bronx, N. Y., walked away from the plane talked to an Associated Press reporter at the scene and was not reported at any hospital.
Panama City News-Herald Florida 1941-02-27