Summit County, UT Plane Crashes in Mountains, Oct 1937 - No Sign of Life






(Copyright, 1937, Ogden Standard-Examiner)
Evanston, Wyo., Oct. 18 (Special) -- An airman and a mountain guide this afternoon flew over the wreckage of a United Airlines plane, down in the rugged Uintah mountains with 19 persons aboard, and reported there was not a sign of life in the vicinity.
BOB BERGESEN, United Airlines pilot from Cheyenne, flew back to the spot where he first sighted the wreckage this morning, and took with him WESLEY MYERS, a native of the upper Bear River country.
Fly Over Sprawled Wreck.
They flew low over the sprawled remains of the air transport, which went down sometime last night after leaving Cheyenne for Salt Lake City on a New York to San Francisco flight of United Airlines No. 1 trip. They told ARCHIE WILMOTT, Uinta county deputy sheriff, they saw no evidence that any of the 16 passengers and crew of three aboard the plane had survived.
Among those aboard the plane were D. A. McMILLEN, prominent Murray, Utah, banker, and WILLIAM PISCHEL, Salt Lake City attorney. The crew inclluded Pilot EARL D. WOODGERD of Denver; Co-pilot JOHN ADAMS of Cheyenne, and Stewardess LEAH DERR of Salt Lake City.
MYERS was able to definitely establish the position of the wrecked plane as on the west fork of the Bear river in Summit county, Utah. He said it was perhaps 15 miles from Hayden's peak in extremely mountainous country.
Earlier reports from United Airlines and from Sheriff FRANK NARRAMORE had sent searching fliers scanning first Chalk peak and then Hayden's peak in a desperate, fruitless search to learn whether any of the ill-fated skyliner's occupants remained alive.
As BERGESEN and MYERS took the report of their findings to Knight government airport, 35 miles from Evanston, word was relayed to Sheriff NARRAMORE, who waited at the CHARLES MYERS ranch about a mile away with a ground party. NARRAMORE and his rescue troops immediately pressed forward into the rugged country, over roadless wastes, in hope of reaching the plane sometime tonight.
The region where the plane was located is approximately 30 miles south of Evanston.
Should all aboard have perished, the crash would be the worst in American airplane history.
Previous to this, the largest number killed in the crash of a heavier-than-air craft occurred January 14, 1936, at Goodwin, Ark., when 17 died.
Every Horse Hired.
Residents of the region reported every horse for miles around had been hired by United Airlines officials. NARRAMORE'S party, leaving automobiles behind, pushed into the mountains by wagon and on horseback.
The plane left Cheyenne for Salt Lake City at six twenty-five p. m. Sunday, and was last heard from over Rock Springs, at eight-sixteen p. m., when Pilot WOODGERD radioed "Slightly rough. All O.K."
An alarm this morning sent searching parties into the air from the surrounding territory. Pilot BERGESEN, accompanied by BILL WILLIAMS, observer, first sighted the plane.
Among searchers was WYNN FERRIN, Ogden pilot, flying his own plane, accompanied by RALPH W. FORNEY, Standard-Examiner cameraman. As did other searchers, the two Ogdenites made their headquarters at Knight, and from meagre information given out earlier by United Airlines wree unable to locate the wreckage by mid-afternoon.
Rain Storm Blamed.
Sheriff NARRAMORE said a "miniature cloudburst" had poured .35 of an inch of rain on Evanston between eight and ten p.m. Sunday, and believed the storm, heavier in the higher regions, might have been responsible for the plane's being forced down. The rainfall was widespread through the inter-mountain region.
Second Search Party.
A second search party started from Salt Lake City with Knight field as its immediate destination. Knight is about 75 miles northeast of Salt Lake City on the eastern edge of the mountains.
Postal Inspector M. G. WENGER announced at Salt Lake City a detachment of soldiers from Fort Douglas had been ordered out to guard the plane.
"Our first duty will be to recover mail and express," he said, indicating the region will be patarolled while such recovery is made, as was the case when the wreckage of a Western Air Express plane was found in the Wasatch mountains of central Utah last June.
United AIrlines said the plane left Chicago at twelve-thirty p.m. central standard time, Sunday, and stopped at Omaha and Cheyenne.
Inspector WENGER, A. C. WILLOUGHBY, assistant superintendent of airmail service for the western states with headquarters in San Francisco, and other postal inspectors were among the group leaving Salt Lake City for the scene of the crash, according to H. B. ASKEW of the railway mail service in Ogden. WILFORD DANVERS, chief railway mail clerk in Ogden, will not go to the scene, ASKEW said.

Former Head of Bankers' Association Among Passengers.
Chicago, Oct. 18 -- (AP) -- HAROLD CRACY, vice president in charge of traffic for the United Air Lines announced today the names of the 16 passengers and crew of three aboard an airliner missing between Rock Springs, Wyo., and Salt Lake.
The crew was made up of Pilot EARL WOODGERD, of Salt Lake; Co-Pilot JOHN ADAMS, of Cheyenne, and Stewardess LEAH DERR, of Salt Lake.
Passenger List.
The passenger list as given out by CRACY follows:
CLEVER, no initials or address, but was employed as a co-pilot.
JOHN CONBOY, Cleveland, United employe.
MR. and MRS. G. FIRRARA, no address.
RALPH McKEOWN, no address.
(Both FIRRARA and McKEOWN are United employes.)
CHARLES D. RENOUF, Washington, D. C., former United employe.
W. PISCHELL, Salt Lake City.
WILLIAM PITT and J. PERGOLA, Pathe news reel employes of New York.
MRS. C. PRICHETT, no address.
D. A. McMILLEN, no address.
DR. L. GROSS, no address.
MRS. J. HAMMER, no address.
W. J. HART, no address.
MISS JENSEN, no initials or address.
JAMISON, no initials or address.
DR. GROSS, MR. PRICHETT and W. PISCHELL boarded the plane at Chicago.
Two wives, both ill but bearing up bravely, awaited tensely today word as to the fate of the missing United Air Lines plane upon which their husbands were passengers last night.
At suburban Murray, MRS. D. A. McMILLAN, whose husband is president of the First National bank of Murray, was too ill last night to go to the Salt Lake airport to meet the expected plane.
Her son-in-law and daughter, MR. and MRS. HARRY A. ROBBINS, went to meet the plane instead, and several hours returned with the tragic news the liner was unreported.
Also ill, only recently released from a hospital, was MRS. PISCHEL, whose husband, a prominent Utah attorney and business man, has lived here 40 years. PISCHEL, 65, a native of Mineral Point, Wis., was returning on the plane from a business trip to Chicago. Attendants at the hotel where the couuple lived said MRS. PISCHEL was "bearing up well" under the strain. Mr. and MRS. PISCHEL have two married sons, FREDERICK E. PISCHEL and BRADLEY D. PISCHEL, living in San Francisco.
McMILLAN, 61, formery[sic] was president of the Utah Bankers association. He was returning home from Boston, where he attended the American Bankers' association convention.

The Ogden Standard-Examiner Utah 1937-10-18


Summit County, UT Plane Crashes in Mountains, Oct 1937 - No Sign

Summit County, UT Plane Crashes in Mountains, Oct 1937 - No Sign of Life

Recorded in my grandfather's journals (John Francis McKinnon) on Oct 18 and Oct 19, 1937 is a brief account of the activity to locate the wreckage and recover the bodies of those killed in the crash. Wesley Myers was a close neighbor. John Francis McKinnon operated a cattle ranch near the crash site and rescue crews were going by the ranch all day on the 18th and 19th once the wreckage was located.

The Probable Cause

"It is the opinion of the Investigating Board that the probable cause of this accident was a combination of
the following three factors:
(1) Static conditions encountered in the last portion of the flight which rendered the reception of radio
range signals unintelligible.
(2) The continuation of the flight into mountainous country at an altitude below of higher mountains
without the aid of ground visibility or radio signals to definitely identify position.
(3) A change in the weather caused by the approach of an unpredicted cold front."
- Civil Aeronautics Board Investigation Report

Huge Air Liner Crashes on Mountain; 19 Aboard Monday October 18,

According to this article Pilot Earl D. Woodgerd's last report said:
"Over Rock Springs, 1,000 feet. Intermittent instruments. (I.e., he found it necessary to fly by instruments part of the time). On Rock Springs range. Compass 248, temperature 35. Air slightly rought."
Salt Lake City radioed him a weather report. He acknowledged it. That was his last word. List of Passengers.
John Conboy, Cleveland, United Air Lines reservation clerk. L. Cleaver, Portland, Ore., a co-pilot on company business. Charles Renoff, recently resigned traffic employe from Pittsburgh. George Ferreria, employe of United Airlines, and Mrs. Ferreria of Cheyenne. Ralph McKeown, Glendale, Cal. J. Pergola, New York, empoye of Pathe Films. D.A. MacMillian, banker, Murray, Utah. Dr. L. Gross, Cleaveland, O., who boarded the plane at Chicago. Mrs. J. Hammer, Cleveland. W.J.Hart, Sharon, Pa. William Pischell, real estate, Salt Lake City. William Pitt, New York, employe of Pathe Films. Mrs. C. Prichett, society editor of the Washington (D.C.) Star. C.L. Jensen, San Francisco. Charles S. Jamison, poultry firm head, Denver. Pilot Earl D. Woodgerd, Denver. Co-pilot John Adams, Denver, Stewardess Leah Derr, Cheyenne.

I have a scrap book from Marion Gates that has a lot of information about United Airlines between 1937 and 1938. Thanks


In this excerpt:

BOB BERGESEN, United Airlines pilot from Cheyenne, flew back to the spot where he first sighted the wreckage this morning, and took with him WELEY MYERS, a native of the upper Bear river country.

The name of Myers is incorrect. It is Wesley Myers, not Weley. He was my uncle. Also, River needs to be capitalized.