Missoula, MT (near) Airliner Crashes, Nov 1960


Missoula, Mont. (AP) -- Twelve persons perished Friday as a Northwest Airlines DC4 passenger plane plunged into a steep bank, crashed and burned on a pine-covered hillside. Police said there were no survivors.
It was Montana's second worst air tragedy. The worst claimed 22 lives when a Northwest plane crashed near Butte almost 10 years ago.
Northwest Airlines headquarters at St. Paul reported eight passengers and a crew of four were aboard the four-engine craft.
The plane, flight 104, was east-bound from Spokane to Missoula where it was due to land at 11:50 a.m. Its destination was Minneapolis.
Eyewitnesses fixed the crash time at 11:35 a.m. in the Cayuse Hills about 25 miles west of the university city of Missoula.
No distress report was received from the craft, Northwest officials in Missoula reported. The Federal Aviation Agency in Missoula said the plane was cleared for instrument flight landing in Missoula.
The sky was obscured with lowering overcast.
The dead included 2 from Montana, 6 from Washington, 2 from Oregon and 1 each from Virginia and California.
MRS. KEITH STEIGERS, whose home is about one-half mile from the crash scene, said revving of the airliner's engines "shook our house."
"Next came a crashing sound," she said. "By the time I got to a window, flames had roared up higher than trees."
Wreckage was strewn over a half-mile area. Police said the plane appeared to explode after hitting. A reporter said many bodies were turned to ashes by intense flames.
Student Pilot KEN SILER who flew over the wreckage said, "They flew right into the mountain."
Helicopters with medical personnel rushed to the scene. The aircraft crashed just off cross-country U.S. Highway 10 and police and sheriff's officers said crowds hampered their work.
CARL ANDERSON, JR., engineer of a passing freight train, said it was a "spectacular, unbelievable crash." He added, "I never saw a worse crash in 10 years of military aviation."
"Flames shot hundreds of feet into the air immediately. The plane went into a steep bank, from a low altitude, lost altitude very rapidly, then righted itself partially before the impact."
DAVE ANDERSON, a 27 year old deer hunter from Missoula, said the big airliner spiraled into the ground, turning over as it crashed.
ROBERT E. RICHARDSON, a railroad engineer who lives near the crash scene, said, "There is not enough left to be recognizable as a plane. It's all broken up and scattered over about one acre."
"It hit on a wooded hill," RICHARDSON said, "then plowed ahead and scattered all over. No big pieces are left," he said. One twisted propeller blade was 50 yards from another.
Radio Station KYSS said there was an emergency landing strip about one-quarter mile from the crash scene.
Student pilot SILER said there was a small wheat field nearby that the pilot could have landed in if he had had time. He said the plane hit in a small canyon at the base of a mountain.
The plane normally carries a crew of three but an extra employe had ridden with the craft into Montana. The 50-passenger capacity plane crashed about 300 yards from the Nine Mile Motel.
In Washington, the Civil Aeronautics Board said it was sending four teams of investigators to the crash scene.
The Montanans killed were MRS. BERRY HURL and her 15-year-old son, JOHN, of Missoula and Philipsburg. The father is general manager and vice president of Montana Forest Products Inc.
MRS. HURL and her son were returning from Portland where they attended the funeral of a family friend.
After Missoula, the 50-passenger capacity plane, was scheduled to stop at Helena, Butte, Bozeman and Billings in Montana, Jamestown and Fargo in North Dakota and terminate at Minneapolis.
It crashed 300-400 yards from the Nine Mile Motel which with a cafe makes up the busines life of the tiny community.
Within an hour after the accident, Missoula radio station KYSS, which rushed a mobile transmitter to the spot, said one body had been removed. An onlooker said there were several tarp-covered objects at the location.
In Washington, the Civil Aeronautics Board said it was sending four teams of investigators to the crash scene. A structures group will be sent from Chicago, an operations group from Seattle, and power plant and human engineering groups from Washington.
The CAB says Frank McKiveen from its Seattle office will be investigator in charge.
Melvin Gaugh, director of CAB's Bureau of Safety in Washington, will arrive at the crash scene Saturday.
The FBI in Washington said that at the request of the airline its emergency identification squad would go the the scene immediately to aid in identification of victims of the crash.

St. Paul, Minn. (AP) -- Northwest Airlines Friday said these persons were aboard the DC4 airliner which crashed and burned near Missoula, Mont., shortly before noon.
Capt. JAMES R. PERKINS, Spokane, Wash.
First Officer HARRY C. LA BART, Bellevue, Wash.
Stewardess ETHEL MARLE DE FREESE, Spokane.
Stewardess EVA LOUISE KNIGHT, Spokane, daughter of Mrs. Gladys Knight of Westernport, Md.
A. P. MARTINELLI, Spokane.
B. LEONARD, Salem, Ore.
A. W. JENSEN, Alexandria, Va.
R. ANDERSON, Los Angeles.
BETTY HURL, Missoula, Mont.
JOHN HURL, (son), Missoula.
J. A. DENTON, Portland, Ore.

Montana Standard-Post Butte 1960-10-29