Spotsy Lake, AK Airliner Crashes Into Frozen Lake, Dec 1968
39 KILLED IN CRASH OF PROPJET AIRLINER.
WEIN PLANE CRASHES INTO FROZEN LAKE.
Anchorage, Alaska (AP) -- A twin-engine propjet airliner crashed into a frozen lake in barren southwest Alaska Monday, killing all 39 persons aboard.
Residents of an Eskimo village near the crash site reported by short wave radio they saw an explosion near the tail of the Wien Consolidated Airlines plane before it spiraled to earth.
Wind gusting to 55 miles per hour and 11 below zero temperature hampered efforts to recover the bodies and start an investigation into the crash. Teams of workers from the Air Force, FAA, National Transportation Safety Board the FBI hoped to reach the scene by helicopter or small plane today.
GEORGE FAY of the Federal Aviation Administration in Anchorage confirmed that the reports indicated either an explosion or that the craft was trailing smoke before it hit the frozen ground and careened into the ice of Spotsy Lake.
The FAA said there was no indication of what caused the crash.
The plane was bound from Anchorage, 150 miles northeast, to several small towns on a regularly scheduled flight.
An Air Force helicopter reached the site Monday afternoon, but its commander, Maj. NORMAN B. KAMHOOT of Forsyth, Mont., said fierce winds forced him to take off after 15 minutes on the ground. He said there were no survivors, and that Air Force medics checked the bodies they could find.
Dead were 36 passengers and the crew: Capt. DAVID STANLEY, Copilot JERRY SVENGARD and stewardess SALLY LAMAR, all of Anchorage. The plane was making a southwestern Alaska swing to Iliamna, Big Mountain, King Salmon and Dillingham.
"The plane was just a hulk," KAMHOOT said. "I couldn't tell which end was up, and I couldn't tell that it was an airplane."
Bodies were scattered over the area, he said. Eskimo villagers said they would stay with the wreckage to keep animals away.
The board of directors of Wien Consolidated was discussing the airline's safety record at a meeting in Seattle when it got word of the crash. It was the first fatal accident on the line, formed last April in a merger of Wien Airlines and Northern Consolidated.
RAY PETERSON, board chairman of Wien said neither of the lines had a fatal accident before the merger. Wien Consolidated has been flying six F27s on intra-Alaska schedules.
The crash site was in frozen marshland surrounded by mountains the highest reaching about 3,500 feet.
ROBERT HURT, FAA air traffic controller at Ilianina, said he never heard from the pilot.
"Usually, the pilots call in at least five minutes before they are due," he said. "But this time I heard nothing. When I knew he was overdue I began to call him on all frequencies, but I couldn't raise him."
STANLEY, a father of six, was described as "a heck of a good pilot" by CHUCK LASETUIKA of Anchorage, a private pilot.
Among the dead was WILLIAM HORSFORD, Anchorage supervisor of the magistrate program of the Alaska Court System. He was going to Naknek to plan new court facilities there.
BILL KELLEY, news director of KTVA and KBYR, Anchorage, flew to Iliamna and reported the radio messages from the bush that spoke of the explosion. "The reports came from the vicinity of Pedro Bay (near the crash site)," he said. "They said they saw an explosion and some said they heard it in their houses. They said the plane spiraled down."
Names of those who made the reports could not be learned.
It was the second air tragedy in Alaska in two weeks. On Nov. 21, a small twin-engine plane crashed at Barrow killing sever persons, including five members of the Governor's Employment Advisory Commission.
Mary KAMHOOT flew his H21 helicopter to the carsh site from King Salmon Search and Rescue Headquarters. He said fierce winds buffeted the 10-passenger ship.
An FAA spokesman at Iliamna said if the bad weather condinued, it would be difficult to get anyone to the site.
A temporary morgue was set up at Anchorage International Airport in expectation that the bodies would be taken there when they are reocovered.
Capt. STANLEY had been a pilot for Northern Consolidated for seven years prior to the merger of the airlines. He was a flight instructor in Anchorage before that.
Daily Sitka Sentinel Alaska 1968-12-03