St. Louis, MO Airliner Crashes On Landing, July 1973


St. Louis (AP) -- "I wasn't aware the plane was going down. There was no panic. I don't think anybody knew it was going to happen," said STUART SIKEVITZ, one of eight survivors of the Ozark Air Lines plane that crashed in a blinding thunderstorm Monday night and killed 36 persons.
SIKEVITZ, 30, of Chicago, boarded the regional flight on its last intermediate stop at Marion, Ill., and said the plane was being buffeted by winds 20 minutes later.
SIKEVITZ, a hearing officer for the Illinois Pollution Control Board, said the only warning passengers had of the impending crash as it approached Lambert Airport was the pilot's warning that the plane was entering turbulence.
Just before the crash, he said, there was "a viloent movement to one side. I don't remember hearing any screams."
The pilot of the plane, Capt. ARVID L. LINKE, 37, of St. Charles told airline officials that he thought he had flown through a tornado and felt certain the plane had been hit by lightning at least once on the landing approach.
SIKEVITZ, reported in good condition at a hospital, told newsmen Tuesday he saw one streak of lightning "come real close, but I don't know if it hit."
Federal investigators, meanwhile, were sifting through the twisted wreckage of the Fairchild 227 turboprop, which crashed in a wooded ravine between two residential streets near the University of Missouri at St. Louis.
The plane, on a flight from Nashville, Tenn., plowed through trees, clipped the roof off a vacant house and broke apart when it crashed into two big oak trees, about 300 yards from an apartment complex. Police said no one on the ground was injured.
A team of 10 specialists from the National Transportation Safety Board began its investigation of the crash before dawn Tuesday.
The plane's flight recorder, containing conversations between the pilot and airport control tower, was removed from the wreckage and sent to the NTSB in Washington for evaluation.
WILLIAM R. HENDRICKS, the chief investigator, said Tuesday that incidents of a plane in flight being hit by lightning "are few and far between. We have no evidence at this time that lightning was a factor," he said adding that the plane was flying through a thunderstorm and anything was possible. He said the investigation would take a week to 10 days.
A Federal Aviation Administration official said the Ozark crew acknowledged receipt of reports on weather conditions from the control tower shortly before the crash and now concern was expressed.
Skies over the metropolitan area darkened rapidly, heavy rail fell and winds of 38 miles an hour were reported at the airport shortly before the crash. Police in the suburb of Ladue, about five miles from the crash scene, reported sighting a tornado about five minutes before the crash, but the National Weather Service did not support the sighting.
The weather bureau said a tornado warning was issued for the area about 20 minutes after the crash, following numerous reports of sightings. Airport officials said a half dozen planes landed at the airport within five minutes of the crash, although one craft missed an approach, possibly because of strong cross winds.
The FAA said the airport had fallen below visual standards just minutes before the crash, about three miles short of the airport, but the airport was well above minimum standards for instrument landings.
Passengers and two surviving crewmen were rushed to three hospitals in the area for emergency treatment, while bodies were taken to the county morgue.
RAYMOND I. HARRIS, chief investigator for the county medical examiner, worked through the night trying to identify from bits of clothing and personal effects what one nurse described as "the most mangled bodies I've ever seen."
DR. DAVID A. GARDNER, an FAA aviation medical examiner, said most of the dead had suffered what he called "deceleration injuries. Their faces smashed beyong identification. This is a typical injury in plane crashes. The plane stops and their bodies don't."
GARDNER said the bodies he saw were contaminated by fuel but had not been burned.
The crash represented Ozark's first fatality in 23 years of operation, and it occurred only 18 days after the airline resumed flights following a 71 day strike by airline mechanics.
It also marked the worst air disaster in the city's history. The worst disaster previously occurred Aug. 1, 1943, when Mayor WILLIAM DEE BECKER of St. Louis and nine other city and U. S. Army officials were killed in the crash of an Army glider demonstration flight at Lambert.

St. Louis (AP) -- A partial list of passengers aboard the Ozark Air Lines 227 turboprop airliner which crashed Monday in the St. Louis suburb of Normandy:
NICKEY CORDIN, Chelsea, Mich.
TANZY CORDIN, Chelsea, Mich.
J. FREEMAN, Arlington, Texas.
ROBERT WHITNEY, Bremerton, Wash.
ARVID L. LINKE, 37, St. Charles, Mo., pilot of the plane.
MICHAEL WILLIAMS, 28, Bridgeton, Mo., flight officer on the plane.
NORMAN ALLEN, Clarksville, Tenn.
JOHN BARTON, Seattle, Wash.
MARK T. BOREIO, Taylorville, Ill.
DORIS CORDIN, Chelsea, Mich.
JANE DOYLE, hometown not given.
JOHN GLASS, Cape Girardeau, Mo.
JEAN GRAMBIHLER, Ft. Campbell, Ky.
BERT HALL, Murpheysboro, Ky.
ELMER HIGGIN, Highwood, Ill.
RUSSELL E. LANE, Redford Township, Mich.
RODGER D. MITCHELL, Chanute Field, Ill.
MRS. ROBERT MOORE, Carmichael, Calif.
JEFF MOORE, Carmichael, Calif.
ARMANDO PEREZ, Houston, Texas.
BILL PHILLIPS, Grandville, Ill.
RUEY M. RASH, Mapleton, Ill.
FRANK W. SEXTON, Jackson, Mo.
JANE SHIFLET, Sikeston, Mo.
PAGE D. STADY, Cairo, Ill.
HENRY TIBBS, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
GERALD TUCKER, Buena Park, Calif.
WILLIAM L. WAFFORD, Charlotte, N. C.
MARK WILHITE, Amarillo, Texas.
BETH WILLIAMS, Kirkwood, Mo., stewardess on the flight.
A spokesman for the airline said the last four victims of the crash, all men, have been tentatively identified, but their names are being withheld pending positive identification and notification of families.

Daily Capital News Jefferson City Missouri 1973-07-25



My dad, Dr. George D. Wohlschlaeger (now deceased), was the first, or one of the first, physicians at the scene of the terrible crash. He happened to be nearby at Normandy Osteopathic Hospital, and got there not very long after it happened. He was very proud to have helped survivors, but for years and years he wouldn't discuss the trauma of seeing and not being able to help the victims of the plane crash. Based on the destruction at crash site, he did say later he was surprised there were any survivors. He did tell me the airplane crash was the result of wind shear, and that this crash did in fact tie into the result that wind shear detectors were put on planes as standard equipment. I'm assuming he heard the results of the FAA investigation from Dr. Gardner, among other sources. He always was so sad about the people who didn't make it. He also had good things to say about the first responders and the local people who pitched in to help the survivors.

Henry Porter

My Grandfather, Henry Porter, was the man that was responsible for "pulling" the survivors from the plane. Henry kept a scrapbook of the crash, including letters from many family members of victims.

I am currently researching information about the crash, for a book. I would like to speak to any family, friends and especially survivors of the crash. I would be more than happy to share the information that we have as well as information about Henry, himself.

Most importantly, our family would just like to see how the families and survivors are doing and to remain in contact with them.

Ozark Crash survivor

My father is Michael Williams. He was only 28 at the time of this crash he was one of the few survivors and he was copilot! im very blessed to have him in my life today. he'll be turning 70 January 24th 2015. I have a lot of articles from the news paper from the very date original news paper writeups/images from the scene tht my grandmother put togeter & saved - it breaks my hert everytime i read it. i send my prayers to the ones lost & the families who grieve.

That plane crashed in my grandfathers back yard!

On July 23rd 1973, the Ozark airliner that crashed, crashed in my Grandfathers back yard. He was the first on that scene the night it happened. He saved the remaining Survivors that night and always prayed he could have saved more. I am so sorry for the victims and the families of flight 809, I would like to know more of the passengers and more of what happened that night if anyone would be willing to discuss what happened. Thank you so much.

Etched in my Heart

I hear you Sheila and know what you mean about the memories of this crash. I had just moved from Lowen Drive when this happened, but I remember being out in the street at my new house, about 3 miles away, playing in the rain and the skies were black with the street lights on. I went to view the damage the next day from the hill at UMSL and could not believe what I saw. My grandma and aunt and uncle still lived on Evarts around the corner at the crash. My old house had the cockpit in the driveway. The places I used to play were now a disaster area. About 2 years ago I visited the Ozark Airline Alumni club out at the airport by Portage De Sioux and had some very good conversations with some of those folks. Great people. I'm glad the victims are not forgotten. God Bless them all.

By the way, my dad and grandfather were contractors and they built that neighborhood, Evarts and Lowen, back in the 50's and 60's. I was over there about a year ago and it is so different to see it all leveled. UMSL bought it all. I wish UMSL or the alumni would put a memorial to the victims there. I'll certainly never forget.

Mike Williams

I am being trained by mike Williams, the FO on the flight. It was winds hear that brought it down. Led to new systems to detect this. He is an advocate and a great guy. Amazing what he must feel after all the loss. Rip

I'll never forget

I lived on Evarts Ave in Normandy at the time of the crash. More than 30 years later, I still remember how surreal it was to run from my home to the end of the block in the storm, hopping over downed power lines and debris, seeing the plane broken in 1/2 on Lowen...seeing bodies...seeing clothing and personal possessions strewn everywhere. Standing in the rain and the rubble ... seeing it all and still not comprehending it.

The police and their dogs were on scene to guard the area for the several days that the "evidence" remained on site. One officer described to me that they were required to clean their dogs' feet and private areas on scheduled intervals due to the "contamination" from decaying tissue left behind. The officers were rotated due to stress.

No one who sees newscasts can ever imagine how it looks and feels in person. And it doesn't go away ever, but softens over decades into sad memories of lives were taken so quickly, and their families who grieved, and those of us who were in the midst of it and were touched.

Russell Lane from Redford MI

Russell Lane from Redford MI was ten years old and he was a good friend of mine in fourth grade.

My great uncle, Norman

My great uncle, Norman Allen, died in this crash. We went to Madison WI from Layton/Bountiful UT for my greatgrandma's birthday. My grandmother came with. My great uncle was flying up to celebrate with us. That night was so unreal. Massive storms. It was so sad. Thank you to the person(s) responsible for providing this information.

Airline crash St. louis July 1973

I was in that apartment complex that the pilot pulled up to miss..I have always remembered this horrible incindent but just now looked it up on the internet...I have all ways thought of those familes through the years and hate thunder storms to this day. God bless them still.