St. Louis, MO (near) Transport Plane Crash, Aug 1936




St. Louis, Mo., Aug. 6 -- (UP) -- A ground fog probably caused the crash of a $50,000 luxury airliner, in which eight persons were killed, A. S. Couch, aeronautical inspector for the department of commerce, said today.
The craft, City of Memphis, of the Chicago and Southern Airlines, crashed last night in a pasture 16 miles north of here. The wreckage, with seven bodies strewn about it and the eighth in the cabin, was found early today.
Couch, after a preliminary examination, said there was no apparent mechanical failure. A low-hanging fog, in the vicinity of the Missouri River, probably caused the pilot to lose his bearings, he said.
The huge plane struck with terrific force but did not burn.
All occupants were killed instantly. The bodies were badly crushed.
The plane, coming from the south took off from Lambert-St. Louis airport at 10 P.M. Airport officials became alarmed when they failed to receive routine radio messages from the plane. Farmers in the vicinity were telephoned and finally a searching party was organized.
Hours later the wreckage and bodies were found. Dr. Luke B. Tiernon of Clayton, Mo., was notified.
The bodies were removed to a funeral parlor in Clayton, pending an inquest.
The crash occurred on the farm of George Behlmann, located approximately three miles from the airport and not far from the Missouri River.
A path was torn in the earth for 400 feet.
Couch said his preliminary examination indicated the plane struck with both motors "wide open."
That indicated, in his opinion, that the pilot was lost in the ground fog and thought he was flying at a much greater altitude.

St. Louis, Aug. 6. -- (UP) -- Five minutes after a new, latest model transport plane left Lambert-St. Louis field last night, it crashed, killing six passengers and two pilots. Early today a searching party came upon the wreckage and made the first report of the tragedy.
Every occupant of the plane died. It crashed a few minutes after it lost radio contact with the airport, smashing down on a farm 16 miles north of St. Louis and three miles north of the field. Weather conditions while not ideal were good. Airport and airline officials could give no reason for the disaster.
A. S. Couch, aeronautical inspector for the department of commerce, told the United Press that a "ground fog" probably caused the crash.
"Preliminary examination indicates," he said,
"that there was no mechanical failure. A thick ground fog probably was responsible. Flying conditions were fair. The fog was low, and confined to the vicinity of the Missouri River."
The bodies were taken to a funeral parlor at Clayton.
Coming in from New Orleans on schedule, the plane took off for Chicago and lost contact with the local airport. Early today word of the crash was received by telephone from farmers of the district where the accident occurred, about three miles north of the airport.
Flying conditions were excellent, company officials reported in striving to find an explanation for the crash. It was slightly cloudy, with an overcast sky, but weather conditions presented no unusual problem, it was said.
It was determined that the crash occurred not later than five minutes after it departed.

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Phoebe Omlie

Phoebe Omlie, wife of one of this accidents victims, was not the first American woman to earn a pilots license. The first was Harriet Quimby. That being said, Phoebe Omlie was the first female to receive airplane mechanic's licemse and the first licensed transport pilot. She met Vernon Omlie while flying stunts for the film serial "The Perils of Pauline." She had a remarkable career in aviation which included barnstorming and flying demonstrations and record flights for the Mono Aircraft Company (builder of Monocoupes). During WW II she established over 60 flying schools, including the one which trained the Tuskegee Airmen.