Buffalo, NY Airliner Crash Landing, Jan 1954


Buffalo (AP) -- A twin-engined American Airlines Convair made a belly landing in a field yesterday just after taking off from Buffalo Airport, but the 21 passengers and three crew members walked away.
Six persons were injured, none seriously. Four were hospitalized and two were released after treatment.
The passengers credited Capt. CHARLES HILBORN of Buffalo, the pilot, with saving their lives. He was admitted to Columbus Hospital for treatment of scalp and ear cuts, shoulder and leg abrasions and body bruises. His condition was reported fair.
He was cut by glass from the windshield.
Also injured were:
E. NORRIS PHILLIPS, 1020 Maryland Ave., Schenectady, admitted to General Hospital for observation, possible internal injuries.
First Officer JOHN RYAN, the co-pilot, East Aurora, treated at Mercy Hospital and discharged.
NILS SWANSON, New York City, admitted to Sisters Hospital with a possible chest injury, condition good.
GERALD BODNER, Springfield, N.J., admitted to Sisters Hospital with a possible hip injury, condition good.
EVERETT ADDOMS, Beloit, Wis., admitted to General Hospital for observation of scalp cuts, superficial face cuts and back injury, condition good.
American Airlines said the left engine failed shortly after takeoff.
G. Marion Sadler, district sales manager, said:
"Though the plane is capable of staying aloft on one engine, the pilot apparently thought it safer to crash land than to return to the airport."
The company launched an investigation to determine the cause of the engine failure.
The plane was en route to Detroit and Chicago.
Ambulances and fire engines rushed to the scene, but the plane did not burn.
MISS PATRICIA DIXON, 28, of Buffalo, the stewardess, told a newsman, "It all happened so rapidly it was pretty impossible to know just what did happen."
"I knew an engine had failed," she said, "but all I could think of was the 21 passengers. They were wonderful. There was no panic at all."
The flight normally originates in Boston, an airline official said, but started yesterday from Albany, because of weather conditions. The plane landed shortly after 4 p.m. and left the loading ramp to continue the flight to Detroit and Chicago at 4:36 p.m.
One eyewitness said the left motor apparently quit when the plane had reached an altitude of 200-300 feet. He said the plane made a left turn, lost altitude rapidly and pancaked into the field near the intersection of George Urban Blvd. and Dick Road, just east of the city line.
The plane bounced along the field and through a shallow ditch, coming to rest with its nose pushing against a stand of small bush-like trees.
CHARLES BATT, a construction worker who was employed nearby, was among the first to reach the plane. He said by the time he got there, the stewardess and some of the passengers were helping other passengers out of the plane.
BATT quoted one unidentified passenger as saying:
"I rushed to catch this plane. Now I've got to get back to the airport and catch another."
MISS DIXON said she lost her shoes, hat and watch in the melee.
The plane itself she described as "a mess." The fuselage escaped serious damage, but both wings were badly damaged.

The Times Record Troy New York 1954-01-21