Electra Plane Crash Kills 61 Sunday, Jan 1 2012 

Transcribed from The Windsor Star, Windsor, Ontario, Canada, October 5, 1960, p. 1:

Electra Plane Crash Kills 61

Congressmen Demand Probe Of New Disaster
 

11 Survive Mishap In Boston Harbor
 

BOSTON (AP) — An Eastern Airlines four-engined Electra tansport plunged into Boston harbor on takeoff Tuesday, killing 61 of the 72 aboard. All of the 11 known survivors were injured severely.

A mysterious “secret document” figured in the crash. State Police Capt. Carl Larsen, in charge of rescue operations, said a member of the U.S. Air Force office of special investigation told him it was aboard at takeoff but later missing. Larsen said the F.B.I. started a search.

The crash, one of a series of mishaps involving the turboprop Electra and the second crash of that type in less than three weeks, brought urgent demands from Congressmen for investigation.

The plane took off with 67 passengers and a crew of five from Logan International Airport at 5:45 p.m., bound for Philadelphia, Charlotte, N.C., Greenville, S.C., and Atlanta. No Canadians were known to be aboard. It cam down about 200 yards offshore.

“The thing was split wide open,” said Lt. Cmdr. Everett Cook of the U.S. naval reserve who saw the plane after it nosed into the water off the Winthrop Yacht Club.

“When I got there, part of the plane was still afloat,” said Commander Donald Regan, one of the first to reach the scene. “A good many of the passengers were strapped to their seats and couldn’t get out. The seats were floating. I noticed that their weight was pulling them over so that there heads were in the water.

“They were all a mess–blood, broken legs, split skulls, and everything else.”

The pilot, Capt. C.W. Fitts, and Co-Pilot M.J. Calloway, were missing. Flight engineer Malfolm Hall was killed. Two stewardesses survived. They are Joan Berry, 22, and Patricia Davies.

“I was in the tail when we hit — it saved my life,” Miss Berry said.

Hundreds joined in the rescue effort — police, firemen, owners of small boats, skin divers, pilots of coast guard helicopters and boats and navy ships. Men waded knee-deep through oil-smeared mud flats to bring back bodies.

60 Persons Killed in Plane Disaster Sunday, Jan 1 2012 

Transcribed from The Victoria Advocate, Victoria, TX, October 5, 1960, p. 1, 10:

60 Persons Killed in Plane Disaster

Airliner Crashes At Boston
 

FBI Seeking Lost Document
 

BOSTON (AP) — Moments after leaving a runway on a flight to the south, a huge Eastern Airlines plane with 71 people and a “secret document” aboard plunged into the muddy waters of Boston Harbor late Tuesday.

Six hours later the death toll was set at 60. There were 11 known survivors, all injured and being treated in three hospitals.

Among the passengers were 15 young recruits of the U.S. Marine Corps, en reoute to boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. Ten of the rookie Leathernecks were among the known dead and at least three others were injured.

FBI Searching

Existence of the unidentified secret document became known late Tuesday. Capt. Carl Larsen, State Police officer in charge of rescue operations at the scene, said he was informed of it by a member of the Office of Special Investigation (OSI), a branch of the U.S. Air Force.

Capt. Larsen said he was told the document had been aboard the plane at takeoff and was later missing. He said the FBI started a search for the document and an investigation of its disappearance.

Thomas L. Hakcett, an official of the OSI at the airport, admitted his organization was looking for “something important” but said it was not top secret.

Inquiries Made

Although the FBI office in downtown Boston refused to comment, an airline spokesman said the FBI had made inquiries at Eastern’s in-town office.

The turbo-prop Electra plane — second of its kind to crash in less than three weks — carried 66 passengers and a crew of 5. Early reports from the airline said there were 67 passengers, but it later developed that one — Harold C. Thomas of North Easton, Mass. — missed the flight, No. 375.

The two stewardesses survived the accident but were hospitalized.

Pilot Missing

The Miami office of Eastern Airlines said that the pilot and co-pilot also survived, but later could not confirm that they had. They could not be located in any hospital. The same Miami report said the flight engineer was missing.

The plane, bound for Philadelphia, Charlotte, N.C., Greenville, S.C., and Atlanta, Ga., came down in muddy water about 200 yards offshore. It was at low tide at the time — 6:45 p.m — and some rescuers slogged through seas of mud, while others hurried out in many kinds of boats.

The airliner broke into two pieces.

Bodies, still strapped in their seats, popped into the water and floated about the scene. Many were badly cut and disfigured. Some were soaked with oil.

The scene took on an eerie appearance after darkness fell. Flashlights pierced the murkiness, helicopters hovered at low altitudes and shone searchlights down on the wreckage.

Small boats, skindivers, wading rescuers toiled to get the injured and the dead to shore.

A naval reserve commander, Donald Regan of Winthrop, a Boston suburb bordering Logan International Airport, was among the first to reach the scene.

He said he helped pull out five or six survivors, as well as some bodies.

The most recent accident involving an Electra was Sept. 14. On that occasion all 76 aboard the craft lived to tell about it. The plane struck a dike on a landing approach at New York’s La Guardia Airport, flipped over on its back and burned.

Before that crash Electra planes had figured in three accidents taking a total of 162 lives. Two of those crashes occurred when the planes lost wings in seemingly safe flying weather. The Lockheed Aircraft Corp., the builders of the $2.3 million planes, then began a modificaiton program while the Federal Aviation Agency ordered all Electras to be flown at reduced speed.

The Boston Globe quoted FAA Administrator Elwood R. Quesada as saying he has no plans to ground Electras at this time.

“From the sketchy information we have so far, it appears there is no relation between this accident and the trouble that attracted public attention.”

Quesada was alluding to demands for grounding Electras that followed a Northwest Airlines crash in Tell City, Ind., last March when 63 people were killed. In that tragedy, outer engine damage combined with air turbulence were ascribed as factors.

Stanley E. Cootey, 39, of Winthrop, was one of the first at the scene of Tuesday’s crash. He described it this way:

“It all happened just as my family finished supper. There was this big explosion and I ran from my house, about 100 yards from the seawall.

“I heard people yelling in the water for help. One woman screamed, ‘Come out and help us. Get some help to us.’

“I could see the tail section sticking out of the water. I jumped over the seawall and started pushing through the mud.

“Soon I dived into the water with all my clithes[sic] on and started swimming. I could see four or five persons clinging to the tail section. A small boat came up with a body on it.

“The entire bay area was strewn with debris. It was hard to tell which was debris and which were bodies.

“I could see seats floating in the way and people were still strapped to them.”

A dozen additional Marines, who were scheduled to make the flight, missed death or injury because there weren’t enough seats for them.

Death Rides Electras Sunday, Jan 1 2012 

Transcribed fromĀ The Victoria Advocate, Victoria, Texas, October 5, 1960, p. 1:

Death Rides Electras

NEW YORK (AP) — The crash of an Eastern Airlines Electra in Boston Harbor Tuesday was the second crash of a plane of that type in less than three weeks and one more of a series of mishaps involving Electras.

A total of 162 persons were killed in three previous Electra crashes. In a fourth, at La Guardia Airport Sept. 14, all 76 persons aboard escaped without serious injury.

It was a turbo-prop-propeller driven rather than pure jet-Electra which plunged into the East River here Feb. 3, 1959, taking 65 persons to their deaths.

Sixty-three died in a crash of an Electra near Tell City, Ind., last March 17, and 34 were killed in September 1959 when an Electra crashed near Buffalo City, Tex.

In the latter two crashes the planes lost wings in seemingly safe flying weather.

Secret Document in Air Crash Mystery Friday, Jan 21 2011 

Transcribed from The Age, Melbourne, Australia, October 6, 1960, p. 4:

Secret Document in Air Crash Mystery

 

BOSTON, October 5. — A mysterious document was missing today in the aftermath of the crash of an Eastern Airlines Lockheed Electra in Boston Harbor with a heavy loss of life.

Only 11 of the 71 on board were known to have survived.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation refused to comment on a police report that it had taken over the phase of the inquiry relating to the document.

Existence of the unidentified secret document became known late last night. Captain Carl Larsen, State police officer in charge of rescue operations at the scene, said he was informed of it by a member of the Office of Special Investigations (O.S.I.), a branch of the U.S. air force.

Captain Larsen said he was told the document had been aboard the plane at take-off and was later missing. He said the Federal Bureau of Investigation started a search for the document and an investigation of its disappearance.

An official of the O.S.I. at the airport, Thomas L. Hackett, admitted his organisation was looking for “something important” but said it was not top secret.

An airline spokesman said the F.B.I. had made inquiries at Eastern’s Boston office.

Young Recruits

The turbo-prop Electra — second of its kind to crash in less than three weeks — carried 66 passengers and a crew of five.

Among the passengers were 15 youthful recruits of the United States marine corps, on their way to training camp at Parris Island, South Carolina. Two of them are among the known dead and at least three others were injured.

Relatives of some of the young marines, who had seen them off moments earlier, saw the accident from the observation deck of Logan International Airport.

The plane, bound for Philadelphia, came down in muddy water about 200 yards offshore. It was low tide at the time and some rescuers slogged through seas of mud, while others hurried out in boats.

The airliner broke into two pieces.

After darkness fell, flashlights pierced the gloom as helicopters hovered at low altitudes and shone searchlights down on the wreckage.

Many of the dead were found by skin divers strapped in their seats in the oily waters of the harbor.

Fifth Crash

The Boston crash was the fifth for an Electra, a big turbo-prop which has been in service for less than two years.

Three of the four previous crashes took a total of 162 lives, and the Federal Aviation Agency ordered airlines using Electras to fly them at reduced speed while the builder undertook a modification programme.

The most recent accident involving an Electra was on September 14. All 76 aboard the craft lived to tell abouat it. The plane struck a dike on a landing approach at New York’s La Guardia airport, flipped over on its back and burned.

The head of the Federal Aviation Agency (Mr. E. Quesada) said late last night:–“We do not know what casued the Boston crash.

“There doesn’t seem to be any relation between this crash and any structural problems with the aeroplane,” he said.

The F.A.A. did not plan to ground the aircraft, he said. –A.A.P.

Eastern Airlines Electra Crashes In Harbor, Killing 61 And Injuring 11 Friday, Jan 21 2011 

Transcribed from the Nashua Telegraph, Nashua, NH, October 5, 1960, p. 1:

Eastern Airlines Electra Crashes In Harbor, Killing 61 And Injuring 11

 

Boston, Oct 5 (AP)– An Eastern Airlines four-engine Electra transport plunged into Boston harbor on takeoff Tuesday, killing 61 of the 72 aboard. All of the 11 known survivors were injured seriously.

A MYSTERIOUS “secret document” figured in the crash. State Police Capt Carl Larsen, in charge of rescue operations, said a member of the Air Force Office of Special Investigation told him it was aboard at takeoff but later missing. Larsen said the FBI started a search.

The crash, one of a series of mishaps involving the turboprop Electra and the second in less than three weeks, brought urgent demands for investigation.

AS THE CIVIL Aeronautics Board ordered seven investigators to the scene, Rep Steven B. Derounian, R-NY, called for a congressional inquiry. Rep Vance Hartke, D-Ind, calling for corrective action by the Federal Aviation Agency, said “structural deficiencies found in this airplane have not been corrected.”

But Gen. E. R. Quesada, federal aviation administrator, said sketchy information available did not show any relation between Tuesday’s crash and previous accidents involving Electras.

THE PLANE TOOK off from Logan International Airport at 5:45 pm bound for Philadelphia, Charlotte, NC, Greenville, SC, and Atlanta. It came down about 200 yards offshore.

Among the 67 passengers were 15 Marine Corps recruits en route to Parris Island, SC. Ten of them were among the known dead. At least three others were injured.

“THE THING WAS split wide open,” said Lt Cmdr Everett Cook, USNR, who saw the plane after it nosed into the water off the Winthrop Yacht Club.

“WHen I got there part of the plane was still afloat,” said Cmdr Donald Regan, US NR, one of the first to reach the scene. “A good many of the passengers were strapped to their seats adn could not get out. The seats were floating. I noticed that their weight was pulling them over so that their heads were in the water.

“THEY WERE ALL a mess–blood, broken legs, split skulls and everything else.”

Eastern Airlines at Miami at first said the Pilot, Capt C. W. Fitts, and copilot M. J. Calloway, survived. But later the airline could not confirm this and they could not be located in any hospital.

FORMER US Navy Frogman James J. Cahill of Danvers led the estimated 200 skindivers in the heroic recue operations. They had the grim task of pulling body after body from the wreckage.

The divers found the wheels of the airliner in the murky mud some 50 feet from the spot where the red and white tail section of the huge craft was pulled above water by Navy Tug 542.

COAST GUARD craft worked through the night bringing in bodies.

One Coast Guard craft commanded by Boatswain’s Mate Richard Hagert brought in 10 bodies. Most of these victims were found strapped to their seats, safety belts still intact.

Two victims were found side by side in their seats. The pained expression on their faces told of their vain struggle to free themselves.

THE BODY OF Flight Engineer Malcolm M. Hall of Memphis, Tenn, was recovered.

Two stewardesses survived, identified by the airline as Joan Berry, 22, of Prentice, Miss, and Pactricia Davies of Jacksonville, Fla.

“IT HAPPENED so fast there was no time to think. We were up in the air–then suddenly we hit the water. I remember calling for the pilot and copilot. There was no answer,” Miss Berry said.

“I opened the rear door and pushed myself out. The pain from my broken leg was so severe I passed out.”

HUNDREDS JOINED in the rescue efforts–police, firemen, owners of small boats, skin divers, pilots of Coast Guard helicopters and boats and Navy ships. Men waded knee deep through oil-smeared muck of the mud flats to bring back bodies.

Late at night, in the light of the full moon, skin divers tried repeatedly to attach lines to the wreckage in 20 feet of water.

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