Wreckage Of Airliner Believed Found Sunday, Dec 6 2009 

Transcribed from Toledo Blade, Toledo, OH, February 12, 1965, p. 12:

Wreckage Of Airliner Believed Found

Tower Tape Hints Close Miss In Air


NEW YORK, Feb. 12 (AP) — A mass of twisted metal lying under 75 feet of water apparently holds the key today to why an Eastern Air Lines plane dived into the Atlantic Monday night, killing all 84 aboard.

Salvage divers today are attempting to raise the wreckage that appears to be the remains of Flight 663. The debris was discovered yesterday near the point where the airliner was believed to have hit the sea. Since Monday 10 bodies have been found.

There was some indcation that the propeller-driven DC-7B might have had a “close miss” with an incoming jetliner seconds before the crash.

“We had a close miss here,” one pilot of the jetliner with 102 persons aboard said. His voice was captured on tape at Kennedy Airport’s control tower.


However the Federal Aviation agency warned against drawing conclusions from the tape.

“The vital question,” Regional Director Oscar Bakke said, “is whether the Eastern plane was already in trouble when the apparent near-miss occurred.”

The plane, with Capt. F. R. Carson in charge, apparently rolled over in the air before it plunged from 3,700 feet into the sea minutes after taking off from Kennedy Airport.

There was no indicatoin of impending dsaster in the last words of the Eastern pilot as he made a successful take-off from runway 31.

According to the taped radio transmissions, each plane had been notified of, and acknowledged, the others’ presence when they were about six miles apart.


“Traffic at 11 o’clock, six miles, southeastbound, just climbing out of three (thousand feet),” the Kennedy control tower radioed to the pilot of Pan American’s jet flight 212, just coming in from Puerto Rico. The traffic was the Eastern plane.

“We have the traffic,” the jetliner replied 12 seconds later.

Moments afterward, Flight 663 was told, “Traffic, 2 o’clock, five miles, northeast-bound, below you.”

“Okay,” Eastern replied. “We have the traffic. Turning one seven zero, six six three . . . good night.”

“Good night, sir,” replied Kennedy.

Exactly 60 seconds later, the Pan Am pilot radioed in reponse to landng instructions:

“Uh . . . OK. We had a close miss here. Uh . . . we’re turning now to . . . Uh . . . three six zero and . . . Uh . . . did you have another target (on the radar scope) in this area at the same spot where we were just a minute ago?”


Kennedy tower replied:

“Uh . . . affirmative, however, not on my scope at present time.”

Pan Am 212: “Is he still on the scope?”

Kennedy: “No sir.”

Pan Am 212: “It looks like he’s in the bay then because we saw him. He looked like he winged over to miss us and we tried to avoid him and . . . uh . . . we saw a bright flash about one minute later.”

That same ball of fire was also seen by the pilots of at least two other planes, and by persons near the south shore of Long Island.

Mr. Baake said there wpparently was no actual danger of a collision. Before the DC-7B went into its turn, he said, there were indications that the two aircraft were three to four miles apart, and separated vertically by the required 1,000 feet.


Lost Bolt May Have Caused Crash Tuesday, Nov 17 2009 

Transcribed from The Free-Lance Star, Fredericksburg, VA, June 13, 1962, p. 8:

Lost Bolt May Have Caused Crash


WASHINGTON (AP) — A mechanic’s oversight, a tiny cotter pin and a bolt less than an inch long could have been the ingredients of disaster in the New York crash of a jet airliner, the Federal Aviation Agency says.

Ninety-five people were killed when the American Airlines Boeing 707 plunged into Jamaica Bay on March 1, seconds after taking off from Idlewild Airport.

The FAA said the bolt, part of a complex rudder mechanism, may have slipped out of place when a nut securing it fell off– for lack of the little cotter pin.

The agency wired airlines and other organizations that fly 707 jets Tuesday, warning them of the potential danger spot. One such warning went to the Military Air Transport Service, which operates the Boeing jets used by President Kennedy and other government leaders.

George C. Prill, director of the FAA flight standards service, said the New York crash “could have been the result of an installation mistake by one man on one aircraft.”

“We do not see this as a possible explanation for any other 707 crash about which we have any information,” he said. “But it would not be the first time that an airplane crashed because a mechanic left a cotter pin out of a bolt.

“You cannot say this is it–we can never prove it happened even though it could have happened!”

Prill said the Civil Aeronautics Board still is investigating the New York crash and will make the final decision on the probably cause.

CAB Blames Jet Crash on Short Circuit Tuesday, Nov 17 2009 

Transcribed from Eugene Register-Guard, Eugene, OR, January 15, 1963, p. 1:

CAB Blames Jet Crash on Short Circuit


WASHINGTON (AP) — A short circuit–caused by the improper use of tweezers in binding up wires–was the most likely abnormality that sent a jet and 95 persons to their doom last March, the Civil Aeronautics Board said Tuesday.

The American Airlines plane plunged into Jamaica Bay shortly after take-off from New York’s Idlewild International Airport.

The CAB report said the wires, part of the automatic pilot system, lead to the rudder boost control mechanism–called the rudder servo.

Federal Aviation Agency inspectors, the CAB said, determined that the damage was the result of improper use of tweezers in tying wire bundles and backed up the conclusion by finding similarly damaged units in the manufacturer’s production line.

The board said that after the difficulty was discovered, the FAA issued an order for inspection of generator motors for damaged wire bundles.

The Bendix Corp., a division of which in Teterboro, N.J., makes the servo control unit, issued a denial that the unit was defective.

The CAB conceded that an FAA theory made public last June — that a small bolt may have dropped out of the automatic control system — was one of several things that could have happened.

CAB Blames Tweezers for 95-Death Crash Tuesday, Nov 17 2009 

Transcribed from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, PA, January 16, 1963, p. 2:

CAB Blames Tweezers for 95-Death Crash

Finds Improper Use on Control Wires Caused Dec. Jet Plunge in Jamaica Bay


WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (AP) — The Civil Aeronautics Board blames a short circuit caused by improper use of tweezers in tying up control wires for the crash of an American Airlines jet in Jamaica Bay, N.Y., last march.

In a report released today the CAB cited this as the “most likely abnormality” that sent the 707 jet on a plunge that killed 95 persons shortly after takeoff from Idlewild International Airport.

The wires involved are part of the automatic pilot system leading to the rudder boost control mechanism called the rudder Servo.


Inspectors of the Federal aviation agency traced the cause to the use of the tweezers in binding the wires, the CAB said, and backed up this conclusion by finding similarly damaged units in the manufacturer’s production line.

The Bendix Corporation denied the unit was defective, Nile F. McCammon, general manager of Bendix’ Eclipse-Pioneer Division which makes the unit at Teterboro, N. J., said the Servo involved passed 61 different inspections at the factory, more during installation, and was overhauled and inspected regularly.

He said:

“Both the sleeving, as it is called, and the wiring must be inspected, and if they are damaged in any way they must be replaced . . . it is certain that the cut . . . had it then existed, would have been noticed and corrected . . .”


McCammon also said American Airlines had inspected and overhauled the Servo unit on the plane involved three times prior to the crash.

The FAA ordered inspection of all generator motors on Eclipse-Pioneer Model TR-20D automatic flight control systems after the difficulty was discovered.

Despite the CAB conclusion, the report conceded that an FAA theory made public last June–that a small bolt may have dropped out of the automatic control system–could have caused the crash.

Flight Recorder of Ill-Fated Plane Found Tuesday, Nov 17 2009 

Transcribed from Ocala Star-Banner, Ocala, FL, March 9, 1962, p. 7:

Flight Recorder of Ill-Fated Plane Found


NEW YORK (AP)–The flight recorder of the American Airlines jetliner that crashed March 1 has been dredged from the water of Jamaica Bay and sent to Washington. Investigators hope it may provide clues to the cause of the crash that cost the lives of all 95 aboard.

The flight recorder–an orange-painted sphere about the size of a basketball–was designed to record automatically the speed, altitude, compass heading and other details of a flight.

Civil Aeronautics Board investigators said the device was relatively undamaged and may give some indication of why the jetliner plunged into the bay only three miles from Idlewild Airport. It had just taken off for a nonstop flight to Los Angeles.

CAB staff member Edward E. Slattery Jr. has cautioned that the recorder may be able to tell what happened but not why it happened.

Noted Men Lose Lives in Crash Tuesday, Nov 17 2009 

Noted Men Lose Lives in Crash

Transcribed from The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, WA, March 2, 1962, p. 1:

Ike’s Friend is Included


NEW YORK (AP)–A prominent oilman on his way to join former President Dwight D. Eisenhower on a fishing trip . . . a producer of the motion picture “Guns of Navarone” . . . a fishing champion . . . a college president . . . the head of a luxury hotel chain.

These were among the 95 persons killed Thursday in the crash of an American Airlines jetliner that had just taken off for Los Angeles.

The oilman was W. Alton Jones, 71, former president of Cities Service Co. He played a major role in construction of the Big and Little Inch pipelines in World War II.

A frequent companion of ex-President Eisenhower, he was on his way to Palm Desert, Calif., to join Eisenhower on a fishing trip in Mexican waters.


The two often golfed and hunted quail together and Eisenhower visited Jones’ Blue Springs plantation near Albany, Ga., on many occasions.

Jones, a resident of New York City, was chairman of the executive committee of Cities Service and board chairmen of Richfield Oil Co. at his death.

The film producer was Irving Rubine, 51, who was en route to Hollywood to discuss Academy Award campaigning for “Guns of Navarone.”

The film was turned out by Highroad Productions, an independent film company of which he was vice president. Rubine was a New York newspaperman before turning to film publicity and then going into producing.


John Dieckman, 35, international professional casting champion, also met his death on the plane.

Dieckman, of Costa Mesa, Calif., was national professional fresh water fishing champion and held numerous national and international casting and fishing records.

He was returning home to his wife, Rickey, also a casting champion, and was to report back to the Garcia Corp., where he worked as a fishing tackle designer and tester.

The college president was Adm. Richard Lansing Conolly, USN (Ret.), 69, who had planned to retire in October as head of Long Island University.

He and his wife were flying west for a vacation at their home in La Jolla, Calif.


Conolly served twice as deputy chief of naval operations and was a U.S. representative at the 1946 Paris peace conference.

Since becoming president of the university in 1953, he had guided it through its greatest period of expansion.

Arnold S. Kirkeby, 61, was a prominent realtor, developer and financier of Bel-Air, Calif., and New York.

He owned extensive property in the Los Angeles area and was head of the former Kirkeby hotel chain that operated some of the most exclusive hotels in the country.

He also was president of the Kirkeby-Natus Corp., which makes short-term loans to a variety of businesses.


Other victims included:

George T. Felbeck, a former manager of operations at Oak Ridge, Tenn., for Union Carbide Nuclear Co., and his wife. The two were believed to have been on the first leg of a round-the-world trip.

Felbeck recently retired as vice president of Union Carbide Olefins Co.

David L. Corbin, a partner in the admiralty and aviation law firm of Haight, Gardner, Poor & Havens, in New York City. Corbin lived in Greenwich, Conn.

His father, Arthur Linton Corbin, is professor emeritus of the Yale Law School. Miss Luella Reckmeyer, 50, of New York City, a consultant on programs for the American Heart Association. She was a native of Arlington, Neb., and was going to California on business for the heart association.

Tides Hampering Hunt for Victims Monday, Nov 16 2009 

Transcribed from The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, WA, March 2, 1962, p. 1:

Tides Hampering Hunt for Victims

Jetliner Toll 95 as Plane Falls in Bay


NEW YORK (AP)–Searchers battled the cold and darkness of Jamaica Bay Thursday night trying to recover the bodies of 95 persons who died when a coast-to-coast jet air liner faltered on take-off from Idlewild Airport and dived in the water. It was the nation’s worst single-aircraft disaster.

More than 1 hours after the American Airlines jetliner plunged nose first into the bay and disintegrated in explosion and flames, only 49 bodies had been recovered. There were no survivors.

By late Thursday night, the tide from the Atlantic Ocean had come in and gone out again, and prospects were that policemen–some in hipboots, some in boats–would have to pursue their mean task all night. Artificial lights cast an eerie pall over the watery crash site about three miles from Idlewild.


The plane was American’s flight No. 1, which took off from Idlewild at 10:07 a.m. for Los Angeles, and crashed three minutes later. It was a late model Boeing 707 Astro-Jet, expressly designed for speedier take-offs from air ports surrounded by residential areas.

Curiously, apparently no one on the ground saw the actual crash in a remote area of shallow water and reedy marsh, although a number of persons saw the plane going down and heard it explode. But another airliner that took off moments later afforded its passengers and crew a ghastly birds-eye view of the disaster.

A rescue force of 300 to 400 police and firemen was mobilized on the remote crash scene within half an hour, in a remarkable display of rescue alertness.

But in the words of patrolman Arthur Ruddick, one of the first on the scene: “There was no one to rescue.”

Rescue then gave way to recovery, with searchers carrying ashore pitiful scraps of human possessions, sodden from the brackish waters of the plane’s grave. Few of the bodies recovered were intact.

The scene of the crash was about three miles across an arm of Jamaica Bay from Idlewild Airport, which is on the south shore of Long Island within the city limits of New York.

The plane cleared a train trestle and a parkway in its take-off, then came down about a mile away from the roadway in the shallow waters of another inlet. It was so shattered in the crash that the largest piece of the $5.5-million plane visible was no bigger than a small, compact automobile.

So primitive was the area of the crash scene that it serves as a wild life sanctuary.


Clearly visible from the scene, however, were the skyscraper towers of lower Manhattan, glittering in a bright winter’s sun.

Beneath these very towers about noon–less than two hours after the crash–millions of New Yorkers roared acclaim for astronaut John H. Glenn Jr., back from outer space and the hero of a ticker-tape parade.

But on the crash scene, as searchers poked through the shallow waters, the broken bits of the jetliner rose from the inlet in grim reminder that man may conquer space but never circumstance.

95 Are Believed Dead in Crash of Jet Airliner Monday, Nov 16 2009 

Transcribed from The Free-Lance Star, Fredericksburg, VA, March 1, 1962, p. 1,3:

95 Are Believed Dead in Crash of Jet Airliner

Craft Goes Down in Marsh Off Shore of Long Island


NEW YORK (AP) — An American Airlines jet liner bound for Los Angeles crashed and burned in a marsh off Long Island’s south shore today with apparent loss of all 95 persons aboard.

The airline listed one of the passengers as W. Alton Jones, board chairman of the Cities Service Co., and a golfing and quail shooting companion of former President Eisenhower.

Ironically, the $5.5 million plane crashed in sparkling clear weather, the first fair day after almost a week of rain and fog that had delayed or canceled hundreds of flights.

Coast Guardsmen said they found no trace of survivors.

The tragedy came just as the city was about to give a joyful welcome to Marine Lt. Col. John H. Glenn Jr., the astronaut who orbited the earth.


The plane, with 87 passengers and 8 crew members aboard, had taken off from Idlewild Airport for Los Angeles at 10:07 a.m. Glenn was due here at nearby LaGuardia Airport at 11:15 a.m.

The aircraft, a modernized Boeing 707 known as an Astrojet, crashed in a swampy area known as Broad Channel in Jamaica Bay off Far Rockaway in Queens. The area is just off the southern shore of Long Island.

The plane was half in the water and half on the marsh.

Huge clouds of smoke rose from the wreckage.

Witnesses said the plane climbed to about 700 feet from Idlewild, then turn left and plunged at a steep angle.

Some witnesses said they saw flames coming from the plane before the crash. Others did not, but the plane was in flames immediately after the impact.

The plane was known as “Flight No. 1.”

By 11 a.m., the report from Coast Guardsmen at the scene was: “There is now only floating, smoking debris in the water.”

Police at Idlewild said at the same time:

“Apparently there were no survivors.”

The crash scene was about three miles from the Idlewild control tower.


The crew of a Mohawk Airlines plane that had taken off immediately after the Astrojet witnessed the crash and radioed an alarm back to the airport.

William Martin, a member of the Broad Channel volunteer fire department, said: “There was an awfully loud explosion that actually shook the fire house building a half mile from the scene. Then a few minutes later we could see heavy black smoke–a very thick column of it. It went about 150 feet into the air.”

The Broad Channel and other fire companies sent ambulances and fire apparatus.

Coast Guard helicopters and a city fireboat converged on the scene.


Police Commissioner Michael J. Murphy sent a large detachment of police, including 55 who had been assigned to Manhattan for the Glenn parade.

Also assigned to the crash were 125 detectives who had been attending a session on narcotics at the Police Academy.

The Civil Aeronautics Board office at Idlewild dispatched its agents.

Three alarms were sounded for the fire erupting from the plane.

The fire was reported under control at 10:50 a.m.–but by that time only wreckage remained.

All eight crew members in the crash were Californians. A spokesman for the line said the crew had arrived in New York from Boston this morning to make the West Coast flight.


Martin gave this account on the basis of reports from the scene by two-way radio:

“The rescue workers are walking out into the marshes about a block or block and a half to try and find survivors and pick up bodies. They tell me they sink into the water about up to their boot tops and sometimes to their knees. Since it is low tide that is a break, because otherwise they would sink much deeper.

“The fire is out and a third alarm was sounded about 11:15 a.m. as a call for more men to help in rescue operations. We understand the plane blew up when it hit the marshes and blew into many small pieces. However some reports say large sections of the plane are still intact.”

Lottie Lennon, Broad Channel, said her house shook “like an explosion.”

“I never heard anything like it,” said said. [sic] “I though it was the house next door.

“I was afraid to open the door. I went upstairs and looked out the window. The sky was filled with heavy black smoke. I woke up my son, Desmond, who works nights for United Air Lines at Idlewild. Desmond was in the Air Force. He knows all about planes. He got dressed right away and went out into the bay to try to help.”

Mrs. Lennon said the smoke rose from a spot in the swampland about a mile from her home at the corner of Fourth Rd. and Cross Bay Blvd.