Transcribed from Eugene Register-Guard, Eugene, OR, June 11, 1971, p. 4A:
Crash clues may be held by recorder
DUARTE, Calif. (UPI) — A cockpit tape-recording device which may give clues to what caused Sunday’s collision between a commercial airliner and a military jet was found Thursday at the crash site.
The ourside of the fire-scarred box, discovered in the shattered remains of the tail section of the Air West DC9, had been damaged by heat and investigators sent it to Washington for examination without opening it.
Federal investigators said the device should have recorded every sound in the cockpit of the Air West craft up to the instant it collided with the Marine Phantom F4.
Meanwhile the hunt for the last 11 bodies of the 50 victims continued on a rugged mountainside 40 miles north of Los Angeles. Operations have been hampered by fog which has persisted in the desolate area, accessible only by helicopter.
The collision occurred about 10 minutes after the Air West plane left Los Angeles International Airport on a busy air corridor to Salt Lake City. The DC9 was being guided by ground radar controllers and the Phantom was flying on a “see or be seen” or visual basis.
In other developments, a reliable source at Mountain Home Air Force Base near Boise, Idaho, told UPI the military jet stopped for five hours at the field to correct a malfunction in the craft’s hydraulic system.
The supersonic fighter was enroute to its home base at El Toro, Calif., after a training mission.
The only survivor of the crash, the radar intercept officer who parachuted from the Phantom, has told investigators that the pilot of the crash executed a 360-degree roll one minute before the crash at 12,000 feet.
First Lt. Christopher Schiess, 24, in an interview with officials of the National Transportation Safety Board, said the maneuver was performed at 15,500 feet. However, neither the marine nor the safety board would elaborate on the interview.
But a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said U.S. aviation regulation 91.71 prohibits, among other things, aerobatics on federal airways.