Elk Mountain, WY Airliner Crashes Into Peak, Jan 1946
BELIEVE 21 DEAD IN CRASH OF AIR LINER ON MOUNTAIN PEAK IN SOUTHERN WYOMING.
Cheyenne, Wyo., Jan. 31. -- (AP) -- Cold weather Thursday night forced a searching party to turn back after climbing to within 300 feet of the top of Elk mountain where a United Air Lines transport apparently crashed early Thursday.
Members of the party reported their faces were freezing as they sought to scale the south face of the 11,125-foot peak 65 miles northwest of Laramie and confirm a report by aerial searchers that the plane, carrying 18 passengers and three crew members, crashed on the northwest side of the mountain.
JIM GOWDY, representative of United Air Lines, who disclosed the return of the first searching party, said another party would start up the mountain Friday morning. He said air-line officials would take off in a plane in an attempt to fly closer to the scene of the reported crash than was possible Thursday because of clouds.
A heavy fog still shrouded the mountain Thursday night and strong winds whipped snow into the faces of the ranchers and sheepherders.
A black streak, sighted three times through momentary breaks in the lone cloud that hovered over the mountain, convinced Captain FRANK CRISMON, N. A. L. assistant supervisor of flight operations in Denver, and four other aerial searchers the the Seattle-to-New York plane crashed on the peak about 3 a. m.
"We definitely feel that we sighted the wreckage," Captain GRISMON said. He saw the wreckage from about a quarter mile and for only a few seconds each time, and could give no details.
Fifty soldiers were en route to the scene from Fort Warren at Cheyenne, Wyo., to assist in the search and take charge of the bodies of 12 redeploying soldiers feared killed with six civilians and three crew members.
About 2:40 a. m. the capacity-loaded ship had radioed a routine "all's well" report from over Sinclair, Wyo., 35 miles to the west. The twin-engined Douglas transport made its last regular stop at Boise, Idaho, where it picked up MR. and MRS. GEORGE A. BENDER, en route to their home in Sheffield, Ill., after their Monday wedding at Twin Falls, Idaho.
The plane with its 12 redeploying soldiers, six civilians and three crew members was due in Denver at 4:20 a. m. and when its reports ceased coming in, searching planes were prepared for dawn takeoffs.
It was estimated that snow on the level around the mountain was four to five feet and that drifts on its sides might reach 12 or 15 feet.
United Air Lines late Thursday was setting up a search base at the QUALY ranch at the foot of the mountain and Sheriff GLENN PENLAND of Rawlins, Wyo., was siding with a party of eight mountain-wise men.
Deputy Sheriff JACK BEST at Rawlins said that some aerial searchers had reported seeing a burned patch about 200 feet below the tip of Elk mountain. He emphasized that with wind and snow conditions as they were the scaling of the peak would be a dangerous and difficult task that would require snowshoes, skis, heavy winter clothing and many hours of hard work.
Along with the wind, clouds piled up around the mountain, balking further aerial exploration for many hours. Fresh snow squalls, in increasing wind, obscured the upper half of the peak by midafternoon.
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