Transcribed from The Blade, Toledo, OH, June 8, 1971, p. 2:
Airliner Hit Marine Jet, Survivor Says
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The radar intercept officer who is the sole survivor of a collision between two planes that killed 50 persons says the commercial airliner hit the military craft he was aboard.
“After impact — the airliner hit us — we tumbled violently four or five times,” 1st Lt. Christopher Schiess, 24, of Salem, Ore., told a news conference Monday. He did not elaborate.
Lieutenant Schiess parachuted from the marine F-4 Phantom jet Sunday night after the collision with a Hughes Air West DC-9 jet.
The twin-engine Air West jet, carrying 44 passengers and a crew of 5, exploded and burned in a dive from 12,000 feet after the collision.
The wreckage, at the bottom of a 2,000-foot-deep gorge, yielded the bodies of 22 persons Monday, 3 of them children.
The body of the F-4 pilot, whose name was not revealed, was found in the fighter plane crashed a mile away.
The crash site is in a barely accessible part of the jagged San Gabriel Mountains about 25 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
The DC-9 was 18 minutes out of Los Angeles International Airport at the time of the collision with the F-4 which was on a flight from Fallon Navy Air Station in Nevada to its home base at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, Calif.
A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said that the DC-9 was being tracked on radar by ground air controllers but the F-4 did not appear on radar screens.
He said that the fighter was using “visual rules,” the “see and be seen” method, which meant it did not have to file an instrument-flight-rules route with air controllers.
It was not unusual for the F-4 not to appear on radar screens, he said, because of the variables in picking up an aircraft on radar. These, he said, are the plane’s motion, altitude, speed, how the radar is adjusted, and ground clutter such as mountains.
Investigators from the FAA, National Transportation Safety Board, marine corps, Hughes Air West, and the Airline Pilots Association went to the crash site by helicopter Monday. None would say whether they had any indication what caused the crash, which occurred in hazy, late afternoon sunshine.