Transcribed from Wilmington Morning Star, Wilmington, NC, June 9, 1971, p. 3:

Visual flight rules blamed in air crash


DUARTE, Calif. (UPI) — Criticism of “see and be seen” flying rules was voiced Tuesday in the wake of a weekend inflight collision between two planes that killed 50 persons.

A supersonic Marine F4 jet, flying through a crowded commercial air corridor under visual flight rules, collided Sunday at 12,000 feet with an Air West DC9 being controlled from a ground radar center.

Oscar M. Laurel, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board which was investigating the cause of the crash, said that now “may be a good time to take another look” at rules permitting visual flight operations near crowded metropolitan areas.

The Air West plane had taken off from Los Angeles International Airport 10 minutes before the collision. Both planes plummeted to earth in a rugged mountain area 40 miles from Los Angeles.

The wreckage was strewn over so wide a region that by Tuesday only slightly more than half the bodies had been located by helicopter crews.

In Washington, the National Association of Government Employes [sic], which represents some air route traffic controllers, urged the government to finance additional equipment to provide radar separation between planes on instrument flights and those flying under visual rules.

The Air West plane’s flight recorder was found intact and the metal foil tapes which kept a constant record of air speed, heading, acceleration and altitude were decipherable.

Conditions surrounding the collision were still unclear and a spokesman for the Safety Board said it may never be possible to determine “who hit whom.”