Mobile, AL DC6 plane crash, Feb 1953

Lightning May Have Caused DC6 Crash

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - A waterspout or a bolt of lightning may have knocked a National Airlines DC6 out of the sky into the Gulf of Mexico 44 miles southeast of here Saturday.

These were two of the theories being raised as civil aeronautics and airline investigators sought an explanation today for the crash that killed possibly all the plane's 46 passengers and crewmen.

A sea-air search for 29 missing was resumed at daybreak after darkness brought a halt last night.

Relatives and friends resumed the grim, slow task of indentifying the mangled bodies of 17 dead brought here by the Coast Guard cutter Blackthorn yesterday.

Seven of the dead passengers were identified by Coroner Thomas B. Henderson:

J. W. Womer, 3015 Meute Dr., Wichita, Kan.

Mrs. M. D. Graham, Port Neches, Tex.

F. A. Thomas, 4423 Manning Lane, Dallas, Tex.

R. B. Friedman, Miami.

Mrs. Alfred C. Bergamn, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Mrs. J. W. Womer, 3015 Meuto Dr., Wichita, Kan. (tentative).

Mrs. F. Solomon, Miami Beach, Fla. (tentative).

Mobile weatherman Bill Tilson suggested the possiblility the plane could have hit a waterspout generated by changing weather conditions in the upper gulf.

Coroner Thomas B. Henderson said some of the bodies were burned without any further evidence of a general fire or explosion and this suggested the possibility the craft may have been struck by lightning.

Capt. E. J. Kershaw, vice president in charge of operations of National, suggest the plane could have encountered localized "tornado conditions" in flight.

The Big Spring Daily Herald, Big Spring, TX 15 Feb 1953


R. B. Friedman or Robert

R. B. Friedman or Robert Benjamin Friedman was my Great Grandfather. He was from White Plains New York. He had 5 children and 5 grandchildren at the time.

I have the original CAA(forerunner of the FAA) accident report. It is listed as SA-271 File no. 1-0013 from May 27 1954

Twist of Fate

Mrs Besselieu, who perished on this flight, was the mother of Devereux, who had been a schoolmate of mine for several years. We were in 8th grade at Horace Mann Jr. High when this tragic crash occurred. In a strange twist of fate, a neighbor of mine, who was the wife of a retired Marine Colonel, upon hearing of this crash, informed my mother and I that she had originally booked a ticket for this flight but had a premonition of something going wrong and cancelled her ticket at the last minute.

Yes Ma'am Ms.Cindy, Martha

Yes Ma'am Ms.Cindy,

Martha Irene Besselieu was William D. Besselieu's wife. In some of the original newspaper articles, MR. Besselieu was listed as having been on the plane when it was, in fact, Martha.

Additional information on Flight 470

My mother, Evelyn Wheeler Loomis, 39, of Miami Shores, FL. was also aboard this flight. Her husband Earle Loomis counted Bill Besselieu amongst his friends. Was Martha Irene Besselieu (Stegall) a member of Bill's family?

I have a fairly detailed website with additional information on this crash, located at:


I do have additional (yellowed and fragile) newspaper articles packed away for future scanning and I will continue to add details as time permits.

When the authorities gave up the official search for Flight 470, my father and the families of some of the other victims hired shrimp boats to continue to drag for the plane. It is because of their efforts that the wreckage was finally located and recovered.

The coroner was a Mason and when he noticed that my Dad wore a Masonic ring he took Dad aside and suggested that it would be better if my father did not go in to view the recovered bodies. He told Dad that the sight would haunt him for the rest of his life and he wanted to spare Dad that heartache. Instead, he asked my father to simply describe my mother to him (my mother had been first runner up in the Miss Florida pageant).

My mother's body was never recovered. I learned that a small, empty manicure kit with her initials EWL embossed in the leather is the only personal effect of hers that was ever found. To the best of my knowledge no other bodies were ever recovered.

At one point I recall seeing photographs of the aircraft reconstruction but I was unable to find those photographs in my faher's effects.

Cynthia Loomis Gurin, Stuart, FL.

I never knew that about your

I never knew that about your family, even though I've known you for over 20 years. My heart goes out to you --


My mother, & Nelson,Neddy & Henry's grandmother & Finley's Great Grand mother,Nancy Nelson Huidekoper Rathborne, from Harvey Louisiana, was also on this disasterous flight. Since it is Valentine's day we love her & miss her & wish we had her guidance. With love, Nancy Winship Rathborne living in St Pete FL.

My grandmother can be added to the list from this flight

Martha Irene Besselieu (Stegall) from Miami Shores, FL died in this plane crash as well.

Thanks for the article.