Hinsdale, IL Plane Crash, Sept 1961

Probing Possibility Bomb on Airliner

TWA Craft Falls Shortly After Midway Takeoff; No Survivors

CHICAGO (AP) - A Trans World Airlines tourist-class airliner with several family groups aboard crashed and burned in a muddy cornfield near suburban Hinsdale early today, minutes after taking off for Los Angeles. All 78 persons aboard were killed.
The big four-engine Constellation exploded and caught fire as it plowed into the rain-soaked ground 10 miles west of Chicago's Midway Airport.
In Washington, the FBI said it had started an investigation of the possibility that a bomb may have caused the crash.
Most of the 73 passengers were embarking on Labor Day holiday visits. Seven were members of one Los Angeles family.

The crash came shortly after a heavy thunderstorm had raked the area.
JERRY BROZ, a farmer whose house south of Hinsdale is only 150 yards from the wreckage, said he heard the big plane roar overhead, then apparently start a turn.
The big plane was heading almost due north when it struck.
"I think he was trying to land," BROZ said. “It might have been done successfully - with all the space here. But something was wrong."

The thunderous explosion caused residents of the area to look first southward, toward Argonne National Laboratories, the Atomic Energy Commission installation which is five miles southwest of the crash scene.
The blast spewed burning oil and scorched the side of BROZ' house, melting the plastic screens on windows. A big wheel assembly rocketed through the side of a corregated[sic] steel machinery shed. Inside the shed later, portions of three bodies were found.
The dead were scattered with debris over an area one-fourth by three-fourth of a mile. Scattered effects included a baby bonnet, a bathrobe, shower clogs, a partly burned dress. There were burst traveling bags and suitcases.

As morning came, a hundred or more officials and workers prepared to collect the bodies. A Red Cross emergency disaster unit crisscrossed the field, driving stakes with numbers on them into the soft mud beside each body.
Then, came the specialist team - a group of police officials. Civil Aeronautics Authority and FBI men, physicians.
The dead were taken to the Cook County Morgue in Chicago.
The plane, with a crew of five, had taken off from Boston en route to Los Angeles, with stops at New York, Pittsburgh and Chicago. The crash occurred at 2 a. m.

First reports indicating that the plane had exploded in the air and crashed in a fiery mass were emphatically challenged by several residents of the area.
CHARLES C. GEORGE, JR. said he heard the big ship's engines roar close by, looked from his bedroom window, and saw the plane's black silhouette skimming about 50 feet above a couple of small trees.
"There was a tremendous roar from the plane's engines," GEORGE said. "The next thing I saw was a huge sheet of flames as the plane hit the ground."
GEORGE HOLUB, 46, a photographer who lived nearby, said he first heard the plane's engines and detected some sputter over a straining roar. "There seemed to be engine trouble," he said. "I saw nothing, but heard the crash," he said.

A spokesman for TWA said: "The plane appeared to be coming from the north" when it crashed. "That is an unusual flight pattern" for a plane going from Chicago to Los Angeles.
The plane, leaving Midway normally would fly west. The crash scene is about 12 miles directly west of Midway Airport and about 1½ miles southwest of Hinsdale, a western suburb of some 15,000 people 20 miles west of downtown Chicago and 35 miles northwest of Hammond.
WILLIAM PAYNE, 42, a plastics worker in a plant in nearby Downers Grove, said he heard the crash and drove to the scene.
"The plane just missed the five homes in the area," PAYNE said. "It came within about 150 feet of one of the homes."

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My dad was working for

My dad was working for Eastern at the time of the crash. He and another EAL employee were one of the first on scene digging through the wreckage looking for survivors.

Passenger list

The wife of a cousin of mine died in the early 1960's on a flight out of Chicago that crashed shortly after takeoff. They were divorced at that time and she had remarried and had an infant with her. I have been trying to find a passenger list for this crash to verify if she was on it. Her name was Carol Jean ???. Do you have a copy? Thank you for any help you might be.

hindsdale crash

Yes, Emma Diehl Little, 56. was my mother and on her way out to California to visit with my family. We did receive a copy of the CAB report and was told the accident was caused by the loss of this steel bolt that controlled the elevating system of the plane. It was not determined if it was missing before or on the point of impact. A long time has passed but one never loses the sadness of losing a loved one so quickly without being able to say goodbye, or I love you.

Marilyn Waldron

My aunt Marilyn was killed on this flight.

She was returning from Italy where she had just visited our family (we were stationed in Toronto).

I was 3 years old and she was 23.

My condolences to the 1000s who were adversely affected by this disaster.

I would like to get a copy (or image) of the NY Times article mentioned above.

Waiting to see her again in the resurrection promised in the Bible.

The only English man on this

The only English man on this flight was a great friend of mine Roger Berrif who was going to San francisco to start a new life . He was 21 years old . He came from Stockport England and even after all these years I think of him often


Many years have gone by since 1961, when I first heard the news about Nanette. She graduated Speedway High School shortly after I did. I did not know her personally but remember what a cute and friendly girl she was, always smiling, always happy. Now thanks to the internet I've been able to review all the details and realize what an incredible tragedy it was for her family, her fiance, and all the other families involved. My belated condolences go out to her family and all the others. I was just watching the movie "Amelia" and it reminded me of Nanette and was finally able to express my feelings about her. So sorry.

Emma Diehl Little

You can verify my grandmother's identity through the NY Times article of 9-2-1961. Her name is on the list of the dead. Take Care,
Don Little Jr.

E. Little

The "E. Little" who died in this tragedy is my paternal grandmother, Emma Diehl
Little. I was three years old at that time. The day after the crash, my mom gave birth
to my brother Kevin. He too, would die too soon, at the hands of a drunk driver. I am the
only one of my brothers who knew her. I miss her and I wish I'd had a chance to
get to know her.
Thank you and god bless
Don Little Jr

I was told of this tragedy

I was told of this tragedy as I was growing up and didn't know much about it until I researched this. Very sad. Never got to meet her. She was my Great Aunt. I knew her sister; my Aunt Katherine. Hope you are doing well.

Emma Diehl Little

My maternal grandmother, Emma Diehl Little, was one of the victims of this disaster. At the
time,I was three years old and have, fortunately for me, few memories of this. My dad was
destroyed mentally by this tragedy and my family would be affected adversely until my parents divorced over a decade later.
Thank You,
Don Little Jr.