Elizabeth, NJ 34 Killed In Another Air Crash, Feb 1952

It seemed to explode into fire with the impact, showering flames over the roof of the building. But only the heavy landing wheels and their gear struck the building. Wings and fuselage slid across the roof, flip-flopped, and smashed into the muddy play field of the orphanage.
The flames were licking along the outside of the fuselage, fed from the wing gas tanks. The impact checked them long enough for surviving passengers to save themselves and to rescue some who were injured too severely to move. Passersby rushed into the wreckage and one of them rescued MISS TAYLOR who was hanging upside down from the safety belt which bound her to a "jump" seat.
Meanwhile, the top floor of the apartment house already was roaring with fire. The occupants of the apartment hit directly were killed -- IRVING ZAHLER, 29, his wife, MARYLIN, 27, and their four-year-old son, MONTE.
FOSTER and his co-pilot, C. E. SINCLAIR, were among the dead. The flight engineer, I. R. SHEA, was missing and presumed dead.
The weather had nothing to do with the crash. It was a clear night when FOSTER gunned his big ship down the runway and took off at 12:18 a.m.

First Crash Dec. 16.
It was the third airliner to strike this city since Dec. 16 when an unscheduled four-engine liner crashed in the center of the city but on the bank of the industrialized Elizabeth River, killing its 55 occupants and an Elizabethan on the ground.
On Jan. 22, a two-engine American Airlines Convair smashed into a row of houses while trying to land at Newark on the radar beam in foul weather, killing the 23 persons on board, including former Secretary of War ROBERT PATTERSON, and seven residents of the houses.
Thus Elizabeth's own death toll stood at 11 citizens snuffed out from the sky in less that two months and the wave of indignation which had followed the second crash, was bubbling angrily within minutes after this morning's disaster.
A Congressional sub-committee was to have held a public hearing in Elizabeth Court House this morning to hear Elizabethans argue that any airport operating in the center of a heavily populated area has to be a menace to residents and should be closed.

Story "Killed".
The New York Port Authority, operators of Newark had prepared elaborate statistics and charts to demonstrate the safety of Newark and had turned them over to the press to be "held for release." When the hearing was cancelled, the Port Authority called newspapers with instructions to "kill" the presentation. At the same time, it shut down the port.
Two hours after the crash, firemen extinguished the apartment house fire. The top floor was gutted and the injured and the dead came from its apartments. But the whole building had shaken from the impact. Windows had shattered, doors had burst open. And the residents of the lower floors raced pell-mell down the stairs into the street, lugging babies and pets.

Continued on Page 3.

Comments

Wow!

You are so lucky to be alive. What a horrific time for Elizaboth.

The crash and your dog

That is so very sad. I'm so sorry you had to experience that.

Elizabeth plane crash

That must have been so awful to see. What a hoffific thing.

National AL DC-6 B

I worked for National Airlines as a weight and balance engineer and was on vacation
passing through Elizabeth, NJ just prior to the crash. I stopped at the Newark airport to see a friend who was the Captain scheduled to fly to Miami that day but he (Douglas Mckorkel) was sick and was replaced by Captain Foster. I was asked to hand the weight and balance manifest to Foster as a favor, and after that I off boarded the plane and continued my trip to Canada. Ten Minutes later I heard on the car radio that a plane had crashed in Elizabeth, NJ. I racedback to the area of the crash. On arrival,I saw the bodies of some of the passengers that I saw board the plane. What stood out was that some of the deceased laid outon the tarmac looked just like they were asleep, the fingernails of the women were neatly polished
bright red and i later saw them bring the bodies of some of the flight crew carried in burlap laundry bags. It wasa horrible sight. Many of the passengers survived unhurt---mostly in the rear of the wreckage. The images never left my memory.

610 Salem Avenue

I was born in 1953 and raised in Elizabeth, and I just finished reading Judy Blume's book, In The Unlikely Event. Believe it or not, I never heard about these terrible crashes until this book came out!

Although I was stuck by how faithful the book is to the City, what astounded me was the description of the crash by which the Zahlers were tragically killed. Ms. Stavisky, can you tell me if the building in which the Zahlers were residing at the time of the crash was 610 Salem Avenue? Believe it or not, this was the apartment building that my parents (now deceased) moved into after their wedding in 1951 and which was my first residence.

I look forward to hearing from you, my email address is jbercow@brzoninglaw.com. Anyone else with knowledge of the location of this building is also welcome to reply. Thank you!

Jeff Bercow

plane crash

Are you aware that Judy Blume's new novel features the history of this time and the crashes? That's what has led me here. So odd, those times of not only publishing survivors and those lost, but also their conditions. Oddly enough I knew someone name Charles Griffin, but no mention was ever made of this, so maybe not him.
Also recall some Zahler's here in Cleveland. Jody I think...maybe had a radio show in Alaska or something? He was looking out for an uncle who was in the hospital, and I met him at the vet's office. Then wound up helping him smuggle his uncle's dog in for a visit with a cooperative nurse.

My husbands Aunt, Uncle and Cousin were the Zahlers

My husband Randy Barlow's father was the brother of Marylin Zahler who along with her husband and child were killed in this crash in their home. Randy's father and grandparents lived in that house but were out at Randy's fathers fiance's house for a dinner. They heard the crash and learned shortly after it was their house and their loved ones Irving, Marylin and 4 year old Monte were gone as was their home. I cannot imagine what this had done to them but I am so happy that Randy is here and that is a miracle. I am trying to learn more about this and this article is very informative as are the comments.

thank you
Karen Stavisky

the Captain

my brother-in-law's father was the Captain. I was ten, my brother in law was 15 or so. The Captain was my fathers best friend and fellow pilot. We lived on opposite ends of a mile long street on the outskirts of Miami, Fl. and there was only one other house on the street. My brother in law had a older brother and together with their father they had built a very nice house. They had done pretty much everything themselves.

Both sons went on to have long, distinguished careers as airline pilots, one with Eastern Airlines and one with Western Airlines. (seriously, its true). My father retired from National about the same time I was hired to be a pilot at Southern Airways in 1969. Southern became Republic which merged with Northwest which became Delta. I retired in 2003 after a 34 year career.

The day of the crash my dog and I were walking along the road and he was hit by a car. I still remember him rolling over and over beneath the car. I was blamed for the accident. But I didn't think I caused it. My father was flying at the time on a trip. When he came home my parents disappeared for what seemed like a long time.

My brother in law disappeared as well, and as I remember it they couldn't find him for a coupe of days. I don't know if that is true, but that is what my mother told me later. They finally found him in his fathers closet. He hadn't spoken or shouted out or responded to calls people were making to find him. I think it took some time before he spoke again, but I could be wrong.

We have never talked about the accident. He married my older sister and they have two children and now live in the hill country of Texas. He builds airplanes and flys a lot. He was an engineer before he got hired by Western as a pilot. His son is an engineer.

All I was ever told about the crash was that Captain Foster managed to bring the airplane down in more or less one piece, even though it was basically unflyable with one engine shut down and another in reverse. and that he had somehow kept it in the air long enough to miss an orphanage,

Thats all I knew about the crash. National Airlines told the sons they could have pilot jobs when they qualified, but when they both did National wasn't hiring, so both sons got jobs with the other airlines. One of the older brothers sons is a pilot.

My heart goes out to those who suffered because of the crash.

Feb. 1952 Elizabeth NJ plane crash

I remember hearing a loud plane coming over our house. The front of the house was all glass windows and we ran into that room and watched the plane struggle to the end (we lived on Newark Ave). My mom and my grandfather summoned our neighbors (3 of them were physicians) and the drove to near the crash site. Judging from the fire, my family thought the plane had crashed into Pingry School (my brother attended Pingry) but it was a few blocks away. I was 8 at the time and I shall never forget the noise.

I was living in Janet

I was living in Janet Memorial Home when a plane crashed in the back yard, at least part of it. Some part of the plane chopped down a large tree. I remember being ushered out of our dorm and was told people were being brought in the dorm. I remember seeing some fire as we passed by windows. My father told me later that a newspaper listed people that were on the plane and names of us kids living in the dorm; have never been able to find article(s).