Plane Hits Hill, Explodes While Landing In Storm Tuesday, Nov 17 2009 

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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112 Die as Jet Crashes In French West Indies Forest Tuesday, Nov 17 2009 

Transcribed from Rome News-Tribune, Rome, GA, June 22, 1962, p 1,2:

112 Die as Jet Crashes In French West Indies Forest

No Survivors Reported as Air France Suffers 2nd Major Tragedy in Month

 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (UPI)–An Air France Boeing jetliner with 112 persons aboard crashed and burned in a tropic forest on Gueadeloupe in the French West Indies early today as the pilot attempted to land at Le Raizet airport in a rainstorm.

A local pilot, first to reach the scene of the crash, reported that he saw no survivors in the widely scattered, smoking wreckage 2 1/2 miles inland from the north coast of Basse-Terre island, one of two islands making up the Guadeloupe group. Air France reported 102 passengers and 10 crew members aboard.

It was the second Boeing 707 crash in 19 days. Another Air France 707 crashed at Orly Airport near Paris on June 3, killing 130 persons.

Guadeloupe is 300 miles southeast of Puerto Rico and 600 miles northeast of the Venezuelan coast. The plane, Flight 117 named Chateau de Chantilly, was en route from Paris to Santiago, Chile, when it crashed while attempting to make a scheduled stop.

IN HEAVY RAIN

Air France said the pilot, Capt. Andre Lesieur, reported a low cloud ceiling and heavy rain has the plane approached the airport near Point-a-Pitre on the flat northern coast of Guadeloupe, well away from the rugged mountain peaks. He was reported to have tried to bring the plane in visually rather than relying on radio instrument guidance.

Lesieur was one of Air France’s most experienced commanders. He frequently served as pilot for President Charles de Gaulle.

The crash occurred 19 days after an Air France 707 crashed on takeoff in Paris, killing 130 persons including many prominent Atlanta residents, and exactly a month after a Continental Airlines 707 crashed near Centerville, Iowa with a loss of 45 lives. Two other 707 crashes in the last 16 months took 167 lives.

The plane left Paris’ Orly Airport Thursday at 4:18 p.m. EST, and made scheduled stops at Lisbon and at Santa Maria in the Azores.

It was cleared for a final approach to Guadeloupe’s airport on the island’s north coast when the crash occurred, according to Air France.

The U.S. Coast Guard said the pilot was flying visually when the plane smashed into the lush tropic forest 2 1/2 miles from the beach at Eshayes.

The plane burned and thick smoke clouds were reported billowing from the wreckage. A local pilot said parts of the wrecked plane were scattered over a wide area.

READY TO LAND

The crash occurred around 12:25 a.m. EST, the scheduled arrival time at Le Raizet airport at Pointe-a-Pitre. The wreckage was first sighted about 3 a.m.

The plane had been scheduled for stops at Caracas, Venezuela; Bogota, Colombia; Lima, Peru; and Santiago, Chile, after leaving Guadeloupe.

Guadeloupe is one of the island paradises in the Leeward Island chain that have recently become the playground of American tourists. The western of the two islands forming Guadeloupe is peaked with cloud shrouded mountains and lush growth. The eastern island is flat and has many plantations.

Toll Reaches 113: Experts Probe Plane Disaster Tuesday, Nov 17 2009 

Transcribed from Eugene Register-Guard, Eugene, OR, June 23, 1962, p1:

Experts Probe Plane Disaster

Toll Reaches 113

 

By HORST BUCHHOLZ
Of the Associated Press

POINTE-A-PITRE, Guadeloupe — French and American aviation experts converged today on a scorched swatch of tropical rain jungle where an Air France Boeing 707 jetliner crashed in a raging thunderstorm after reporting landing gear trouble. All 113 persons aboard were killed.

Police blocked off the crash scene until representatives of the U. S. Civil Aeronautics Board and Federal Aviation Agency teamed with French air experts from Paris to inspect wreckage of the second worst single-plane disaster in commercial aviation history.

The four-engine airliner smashed into a hill and burst into flames on this French Caribbean island early Friday shortly after winging over Pointe-A-Pitre’s Raizet Airfield in the start of a landing approach after a flight from Paris.

Minutes later, the control tower radar lost contact at about the same time explosions in the distance were noted. The explosions were taken by some as thunder.

But after daylight searchers spotted the wreckage on Mule’s Back Hill 18 miles from the field.

The plane slammed into the hill about 500 feet below its 2,000-foot crest, off the usual landing approach pattern. The pilot of another Air France liner here blamed the crash on the thunderstorm, saying, “the ceiling was very low.”

The fiery crash scattered wreckage over more than a mile of the thick undergrowth.

The Air France office in Paris again revised the figure Saturday, to 113 dead. A recheck of the Friday turned up an additional passenger, making the total passenger list 103, an airline spokesman said, along with the 10 crew members.

This toll in a single-plane crash was exceeded only by the crash of another Air France Boeing 707 jet early this month which killed 130 persons, including 121 Americans.

The big Boeing jetliners have been involved in five commercial airline crashes killing a total of 303 persons in the past 17 months.