Transcribed from The Blade, Toledo, OH, June 22, 1962, p. 1:

Plane Hits Hill, Explodes While Landing In Storm

 

POINTE-A-PITRE, Guadeloupe, June 22 (AP)–An Air France Boeing 707 jetliner with 113 persons aboard crashed during a predawn storm while coming in for a landing on this Caribbean island today. All aboard perished: 103 passengers, including 7 children and 4 babies, and 10 crew members.

Search crews who circled the wreckage of the jet by air reported it had exploded on impact with a hill and that the debris, scattered over nearly a mile, had burned.

The $5.5-million plane was on a flight from Paris to Santiago, Chile.

The U.S. Coast Guard said the air traffic control center at Pointe-a-Pitre airport reported the big jet had been cleared for its final approach when its radio went dead.

SPOTTED WRECKAGE

A small local plane later spotted the wreckage 2 1/2 miles inland from the north coast of the Basse Terre section of Guadeloupe, the coast guard said.

The pilot had radioed that he was making a visual approach to the field.

James Welsh, head of the U.S. Information Agency in Guadeloupe, flew over the wreckage in his private plane.

“There’s nothing left of it,” he said. “It was a terrible sight. Wreckage seem to be scattered over the whole mountain.”

Guadeloupe police dispatched rescue crews to the site and French helicopters sped there from Martinique.

DISTRESS MESSAGE

The crash occurred at about 3:25 a.m., the hour the plane was due to land at Guadeloupe on a flight from Santa Maria, the Azores.

First word that the airliner was in trouble came at came at [sic] 6:19 a.m., when the coast guard received this message: “Distress, Air France flight 117, B707, overdue . . .”

An all-ships distress signal was flashed to naval vessels, asking them to proceed to the area. Two coast guard amphibious planes and a patrol boat were dispatched from San Juan.
Guadeloupe is composed of two islands, Basse Terre and Grande Terre. The airfield is on Grande Terre. The plane crashed on Basse Terre.

The plane had 10 crew members and 012 passengers aboard on take-off from Paris last night. It made a stop at Lisbon and several passengers left and other boarded.

The plane was to have flown on to Caracas, Bogota and Lima, terminating its flight at Santiago.

HAD FLOWN DE GAULLE

Capt. Andre Lesieur, one of Air France’s most experienced pilots, who was at the controls, several times had flown President Charles De Gaulle.

It was the fifth crash involving a passenger-carrying Boeing 707 in commercial service. A 707 of the Belgian Airline Sabena crashed Feb. 15, 1961 at Brussels, killing 73. An American Airlines crash at New York last March 1 killed 55. A Continental Airlines 707 with 45 aboard disintegrated and crashed near Unionville, Mo., May 25. An Air France charter, flying a group of Atlantans home, crashed at Paris June 3, killing 130.

Guadeloupe is an overseas department of France in the Leeward Islands, 300 miles southeast of San Juan and 80 miles north of Martinique.

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