Elkton, MD Lightning Explodes Air Liner, Dec 1963

Elkton MD Plane crash workers.jpg Elkton MD plane crash wreckage.jpg

One engine of the plane, crushed but still in one piece, was found about 600 yards from the main wreckage and debris.
"It started raining fire," said James C. Wallace, 34, who lives nearby. Wallace found a box of jewelry in his back yard, with every piece broken or distorted.
State police and 50 sailors from the Navy training center at nearby Bainbridge, Md., lined up and slowly walked across the stubbled cornfield littered with parts of bodies and debris.
It was seldom that anything found was large enough to be identified.
Victims were to be identified through rings, clothing, pocketbooks, fingerprints or dental work.
Identification Difficult.
"It's going to be a very, very difficult job of identification," said Dr. Russell S. Fisher, Maryland's chief medical examiner who was on the scene.
Dr. Fisher emphasized there would be "no personal or visual identification of the remains," saying it would be futile for relatives to come to Elkton for that purpose.
In Washington, the CAB said it had learned that another plane had been in trouble in the same general area at about the same time because of turbulence. This report indicated rough weather, rather than lightning, was a major factor.
Investigators said some witnesses told of seeing violent flashes which appeared to be lightning but other witnesses said the flashes definitely were not lightning.
The pilot of a Martin 404 twin-engine propellor airplane had reported extreme turbulence in the area about the same time and said the craft was in danger of crashing.
Some experts suggested that if lightning did cause the explosion it might have occurred from the opening of a seam by a damaging hit. Jet fuel which might pour forth from such an opening could be ignited by electrical discharges or the airplane's own power plant.
"A plane could be forced down by lightning," Allen said, "but there also have been instances where planes have been hit and not crashed."
If lightning did cause the crash it would be a first in U.S. commercial aviation records.
The Elkton crash was the nation's second worst involving a single airliner. The worst was the crash of an American Airlines Astrojet in New York City, in March, 1962, killing 93 persons.

The Post-Standard Syracuse New York 1963-12-10

Transcriber's Note: The official cause of this accident, was the jet being hit by lightning. The first such instance recorded in U.S. commercial air travel.

List Of Victims Of The Elkton, Maryland Crash.
The crew:
Capt. GEORGE KNUTH, Huntington State, N.Y.
First Officer JOHN R. DALE, Port Washington, N.Y.
Second Officer PAUL ORRINGER, New Rochelle, N.Y.
Flight Engineer R. J. KANTLEHNER, Brentwood, N.Y.
Purser MARIO L. MONTILLA, Queens, New York City.
JOSEPH K. MORETT, Cabin Attendant, Paramus, N.J.
TOMMIE LOUISE SIMS, Stewardess, New York City.
VIRGINIA ANN HENZINGER, Stewardess, New York City.
The passengers.
MR. N. SCHLESINGER, 122 Santa Anita, Areda, Calif.
MRS. N. SCHLESINGER, same as above.
MR. E. KALLICKMAN, 6400 N. 10th St., Philadelphia.
M. LUPOWITZ, 7512 Vernon Road, Melrose Park, Pa.
MRS. MANUEL ROCKOWER, 1022 W. Church Road, Wyncote, Pa.
MR. LEWIS GOLDSTEIN, 8227 Maringross, Elkins Park, Pa.
MR. L. HARLICH, Pan Am, Philadelphia.
T. HARMATZ, Cedar and Waringross, Elkins Park, Pa.
MR. ISRAEL BRODER, Philadelphia.
MR. WILLIAM PILGRIM, Philadelphia.
MRS. DIANE PILGRIM, Philadelphia.

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