Transcribed from Toledo Blade, Toledo, OH, February 12, 1965, p. 12:

Wreckage Of Airliner Believed Found

Tower Tape Hints Close Miss In Air

 

NEW YORK, Feb. 12 (AP) — A mass of twisted metal lying under 75 feet of water apparently holds the key today to why an Eastern Air Lines plane dived into the Atlantic Monday night, killing all 84 aboard.

Salvage divers today are attempting to raise the wreckage that appears to be the remains of Flight 663. The debris was discovered yesterday near the point where the airliner was believed to have hit the sea. Since Monday 10 bodies have been found.

There was some indcation that the propeller-driven DC-7B might have had a “close miss” with an incoming jetliner seconds before the crash.

“We had a close miss here,” one pilot of the jetliner with 102 persons aboard said. His voice was captured on tape at Kennedy Airport’s control tower.

VITAL QUESTION

However the Federal Aviation agency warned against drawing conclusions from the tape.

“The vital question,” Regional Director Oscar Bakke said, “is whether the Eastern plane was already in trouble when the apparent near-miss occurred.”

The plane, with Capt. F. R. Carson in charge, apparently rolled over in the air before it plunged from 3,700 feet into the sea minutes after taking off from Kennedy Airport.

There was no indicatoin of impending dsaster in the last words of the Eastern pilot as he made a successful take-off from runway 31.

According to the taped radio transmissions, each plane had been notified of, and acknowledged, the others’ presence when they were about six miles apart.

ANOTHER TARGET?

“Traffic at 11 o’clock, six miles, southeastbound, just climbing out of three (thousand feet),” the Kennedy control tower radioed to the pilot of Pan American’s jet flight 212, just coming in from Puerto Rico. The traffic was the Eastern plane.

“We have the traffic,” the jetliner replied 12 seconds later.

Moments afterward, Flight 663 was told, “Traffic, 2 o’clock, five miles, northeast-bound, below you.”

“Okay,” Eastern replied. “We have the traffic. Turning one seven zero, six six three . . . good night.”

“Good night, sir,” replied Kennedy.

Exactly 60 seconds later, the Pan Am pilot radioed in reponse to landng instructions:

“Uh . . . OK. We had a close miss here. Uh . . . we’re turning now to . . . Uh . . . three six zero and . . . Uh . . . did you have another target (on the radar scope) in this area at the same spot where we were just a minute ago?”

GONE FROM SCOPE

Kennedy tower replied:

“Uh . . . affirmative, however, not on my scope at present time.”

Pan Am 212: “Is he still on the scope?”

Kennedy: “No sir.”

Pan Am 212: “It looks like he’s in the bay then because we saw him. He looked like he winged over to miss us and we tried to avoid him and . . . uh . . . we saw a bright flash about one minute later.”

That same ball of fire was also seen by the pilots of at least two other planes, and by persons near the south shore of Long Island.

Mr. Baake said there wpparently was no actual danger of a collision. Before the DC-7B went into its turn, he said, there were indications that the two aircraft were three to four miles apart, and separated vertically by the required 1,000 feet.

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