Oregon, MO Airliner Crashes, Sep 1934



Oregon, Mo., Sept. 2 (AP) -- Twisted and charred wreckage marked the roadside spot today where a woman and four men crashed to death last night in a storm-ridden transport plane.
Low hanging clouds that loosed rain and lightning over Northwest Missouri blocked the path of a tri-motor ship of the Rapid Air Lines, Inc., on its way to Omaha and it roared into an embankment, bursting into flames.
The passengers were:
MRS. MAUDE SCHIFFMACHER, Edwardsville, Kas., on her way to Omaha to join her husband, Harry Schiffmacher, a buyer for a Detroit Packing Company.
FRANK MAHAN, 25, taking his first plane ride in order to visit his parents at Omaha where they had purchased a brewery.
W. W. TRUELSEN, 52, vice-president of the corn belt farm dailies, which publishes newspapers in Kansas City, Omaha, Chicago and St. Louis.
DALLAS LEITCH, 19, Omaha, a student at Dartmouth College.
The pilot, DON BONRAGER, 34, with 12 years experience, apparently was seeking to make a forced landing and only by the narrowest of margins failed to reach a clover field.
"I heard the roar of a plane," MRS. LEWIS KURTZ, wife of a farmer, said.
"It was very low, just over the tree tops and just under the clouds. The rain was coming down in torrents. I screamed to my husband there was a plane in trouble. He ran to a west door. Just then there was a crash and flames burst out in every direction. We were horrified, thinking the plane had struck the John Hornecker home."
It missed that house by only 50 feet.
"I was awakened by the crash," Hornecker said.
"By the time I could get outdoors the plane was completely wrapped in flames. There was nothing we could do."
The plane left Kansas City on schedule at 6:35 p.m., but was ordered by radio to stop at St. Joseph because of storm conditions. It remained there from 7:05 p.m., until shortly after 10 o'clock. Soon after leaving there it encountered the storm which had swept back into its path.
Later today, a farmer, CHARLES STADLER, who lives two miles south of where the plane crashed, said he saw the ship fall, and that it appeared to have been struck by lightning.
"I heard the drone of the ship's motor above the sound of the rain storm, and went out doors to see if I could sight it. Against the black clouds I could see the ship. It appeared to be in trouble. The plane was about 500 feet in the air when a flash of lightning seemed to envelop it. There was no sound of an explosion, but the plane fell rapidly to earth, burning."
P. C. Salzman, a department of commerce inspector from Kansas City, was here conducting an investigation.
Dr. J. C. Ottman of Craig, Mo., coroner for Holt county, was conducting an inquest.
Bodies of the five victims which were taken to a mortuary here, probably will be removed today.

Moberly Monitor-Index Missouri 1934-09-02