Las Vegas, NV (near) Jet and Airliner Collide, Apr 1958
L. A. AIRLINER AND JET COLLIDED OVER NEVADA DESERT; 49 DIE.
AIR FORCE CRAFT MAY HAVE STALLED AT 5-MILE ALTITUDE; DC7 CRASHES "LIKE BOMB."
Las Vegas, April 21 -- (AP) -- A huge airliner winging east in clear weather and a supersonic fighter-bomber on a training flight collided high over the desert today.
The transport exploded and crashed, killing all 47 aboard. The jet crashed, too, killing both aboard.
The jet plane was an F100F from nearby Nellis Air Force Base, a pilot training center. The craft's two occupants, on an instrument training mission, rode the craft to their deaths.
Initial reports were that one or both had parachuted, but the chute sighted apparently was a drag chute from the plane.
The collision was at 21,000 feet over a hilly desert area 15 miles southwest of Las Vegas.
Observers said there was a spurt of flame as the United Airlines transport exploded, then went into a long death dive, trailing flames, black smoke, and debris.
The DC7 was carrying 37 regular passengers, 5 airline employees and a crew of 5 from Los Angeles to New York via Denver, Kansas City and Washington.
It left Los Angeles at 7:30 a.m. and was due over this desert gambling resort at 8:31 a.m., although it was not scheduled to land here.
Missile Corporation Chief Perishes.
Among those announced as aboard were a top official of a ballistic missile corporation and a regional supervisor of the Civil Aeronautics Administration.
The missile executive was identified by Ramo-Wooldridge, which coordinates the Air Force's ballistic missile program, as company treasurer ROBERT HEIGHT.
He was about 34 and lived at suburban Palos Verdes Estates.
The CAA listed among those aboard W. E. (ED) NOLLENBERGER, 44, supervisor of air traffic division, Region 4. He was stationed at the Los Angeles office, and lived in Studio City, a Los Angeles suburb. Region 4 covers the 11 western states.
Ramo-Wooldridge said that a member of the firm's technical saff also was aboard, but he was not immediately identified.
The crippled airliner crashed like a bomb.
The collision was seen by many in the Las Vegas area. Some saw a flash, followed by a puff of smoke. Many saw the smoke ball, and the vertical smoke plume left by the plunging craft.
Rescuers Report All Dead.
A rescue party headed by sheriff's deputies reached the scene by mid-morning and reported all dead. Most of the bodies remained in the fuselage. The wreckage, which burned on the ground, was not widely scattered.
The scene is 9 1/2 miles south of Las Vegas' McCarran Field, within 10 miles of the mountains where actress Carole Lombard died when a transport in which she was a passenger hit a peak in 1942.
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