Transcribed from Rome News-Tribune, Rome, GA, June 22, 1962, p 1,2:
112 Die as Jet Crashes In French West Indies Forest
No Survivors Reported as Air France Suffers 2nd Major Tragedy in Month
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (UPI)–An Air France Boeing jetliner with 112 persons aboard crashed and burned in a tropic forest on Gueadeloupe in the French West Indies early today as the pilot attempted to land at Le Raizet airport in a rainstorm.
A local pilot, first to reach the scene of the crash, reported that he saw no survivors in the widely scattered, smoking wreckage 2 1/2 miles inland from the north coast of Basse-Terre island, one of two islands making up the Guadeloupe group. Air France reported 102 passengers and 10 crew members aboard.
It was the second Boeing 707 crash in 19 days. Another Air France 707 crashed at Orly Airport near Paris on June 3, killing 130 persons.
Guadeloupe is 300 miles southeast of Puerto Rico and 600 miles northeast of the Venezuelan coast. The plane, Flight 117 named Chateau de Chantilly, was en route from Paris to Santiago, Chile, when it crashed while attempting to make a scheduled stop.
IN HEAVY RAIN
Air France said the pilot, Capt. Andre Lesieur, reported a low cloud ceiling and heavy rain has the plane approached the airport near Point-a-Pitre on the flat northern coast of Guadeloupe, well away from the rugged mountain peaks. He was reported to have tried to bring the plane in visually rather than relying on radio instrument guidance.
Lesieur was one of Air France’s most experienced commanders. He frequently served as pilot for President Charles de Gaulle.
The crash occurred 19 days after an Air France 707 crashed on takeoff in Paris, killing 130 persons including many prominent Atlanta residents, and exactly a month after a Continental Airlines 707 crashed near Centerville, Iowa with a loss of 45 lives. Two other 707 crashes in the last 16 months took 167 lives.
The plane left Paris’ Orly Airport Thursday at 4:18 p.m. EST, and made scheduled stops at Lisbon and at Santa Maria in the Azores.
It was cleared for a final approach to Guadeloupe’s airport on the island’s north coast when the crash occurred, according to Air France.
The U.S. Coast Guard said the pilot was flying visually when the plane smashed into the lush tropic forest 2 1/2 miles from the beach at Eshayes.
The plane burned and thick smoke clouds were reported billowing from the wreckage. A local pilot said parts of the wrecked plane were scattered over a wide area.
READY TO LAND
The crash occurred around 12:25 a.m. EST, the scheduled arrival time at Le Raizet airport at Pointe-a-Pitre. The wreckage was first sighted about 3 a.m.
The plane had been scheduled for stops at Caracas, Venezuela; Bogota, Colombia; Lima, Peru; and Santiago, Chile, after leaving Guadeloupe.
Guadeloupe is one of the island paradises in the Leeward Island chain that have recently become the playground of American tourists. The western of the two islands forming Guadeloupe is peaked with cloud shrouded mountains and lush growth. The eastern island is flat and has many plantations.