Transcribed from the Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, January 21, 1960, page 34:
Theory Holds Disaster Accident, Not Bombing
By Jerry Bennett
Newspaper Enterprise Assn. Writer
WASHINGTON — There is mounting evidence that the crash of a National Airlines plane on January 6 was not caused by a bomb.
This turn in the disaster investigation stems from a review of evidence undisclosed until now.
The new theory, if proven, would absolve alleged bomber Julian Frank of responsibility for the crash which took his life and that of 33 others aboard the Miami-bound plane.
This theory holds that escaping air in the pressurized cabin blew the New York lawyer through either a broken window or a hole in the plane’s side. Thus, Frank’s body landed on a North Carolina beach before inrushing air or other mechanical damage tore the plane apart 20 miles away.
Here is the support for this theory, based on evidence found by investigators:
- A hole was found in a piece of the plane’s fuselage that landed near Frank’s body. The metal was from the rest room area. The hole was not caused by an explosion, but it was big enough to release enough pressure to blast out the entire rest room wall and kill anyone nearby.
- Also found near Frank’s body were fragments from the plane’s windows. This would indicate that one or more of the windows was blown out at about the same time. Frank being inside the rest room or sitting beside a window when the damage occurred would account for his body being so far from the others.
- If there had been a bomb, powder or chemical burns would have been found either on Frank’s body or parts of the wreckage. None has been found.
- The outward burst of an explosion inside a flight cabin would bend metal fragments torn from the fuselage. This didn’t happen in the Jan. 6 disaster.
- Much has been said about a blue cloth bag with a missing bottom found near Franks’ body. It has been alleged that Frank hid the bomb inside it. The trouble with this theory is that a bomb powerful enough to damage a plane would have done more to a bag than just blow out its bottom.
- Frank didn’t have a blue bag. His was gray.
- The fact that both Frank’s legs were missing from his body has been presented as evidence that he exploded a bomb. But experts say that the impact a body makes when striking the ground from a high altitude is strong enough to tear away limbs. Other bodies were found with severed arms and legs.
In either event, the theory holds[sic] been used to boost the bomb theory is that bits of metal imbedded in Frank’s body did not come from the doomed plane. This announcement was made before the fragments had been fully analyzed. Results of the lab tests have not yet been disclosed.
Additional evidence includes the findings of life jackets on some of the passengers and an inflated life raft. Also, it is known that one of the engines was on fire. Whether it burned before or after the plane fell apart is not known.
Based on this new evidence, here is one expert’s theory of what might have caused the crash:
The plane was flying over the ocean near the Carolina coast when the engine caught fire. Passengers began strapping on their life jackets.
Frank is known to have been desperately afraid of flying. Upon seeing the engine in flames, he might have panicked and broken a window. Or a piece of metal from the burning engine could have broken a window or struck the fuselage, weakening it to the extent that a blowout occurred.
In either event, the theory holds that the pilot turned abruptly inland and began his descent. Either air rushing into the plane or other material damage could have made the plane disintegrate.
Whether this theory becomes fact hinges upon final reassembly and study of the wreckage, underway at Wilmington, N.C.