Grand Canyon, AZ Plane Crashes Into Mountain, Oct 1971

Grand Canyon AZ type of plane in crash.jpg Grand Canyon AZ crash site 10-16-1971.jpg


Peach Springs, Ariz. -- (UPI) -- A sheriff's posse slowly made its way today to an almost inaccessible desert plateau where 10 persons, including former U. S. Education Commissioner DR. JAMES E. ALLEN, JR., died in the crash of a sightseeing plane.
The twin-engine Cessna 402 of Scenic Airlines of Las Vegas, Nev., a small line specializing in charters and tourists trips to the Grand Canyon, smashed into the side of the plateau in desolate northwestern Arizona Saturday during a wintry storm.
The wreckage was found yesterday morning by one of 15 search planes of the Civil Air Patrol and the Air Force criss-crossing the desert and mountains of southern Nevada and northern Arizona for the missing aircraft.
Scenic Airlines President John Siebold confirmed that DR. ALLEN and his wife, MRS. FLORENCE ALLEN, were aboard the plane, which was on a trip to the Grand Canyon when it crashed. First word of ALLEN'S death came from Princeton University, where ALLEN was a visiting lecturer.
Another couple aboard the craft was identified as MR. and MRS. R. LYNCH of Chicago. The pilot was WAYNE LEETH, 44, Las Vegas, a veteran who had flown the Las Vegas-Grand Canyon route about 600 times.
Scenic said the five other victims were foreign tourists and their names could not be released until the bodies were recovered. The airline did say three were German and two were French. Their names were: MR. and MRS. P. DOSMOND, of Paris, France; MR. and MRS. PAUL HAACK, of Erlangen, West Germany; and MR. WALTER PILGRAM, of Erlangen, West Germany.
ALLEN, a controversial educator, was asked to resign as education commissioner 18 months after his appointment by Nixon. ALLEN maintained he was dismissed because he angered the administration with his outspoken opposition to U. S. involvement in Indochina and his advocacy of busing to implement school integration.
The Air Rescue Squadron from Hamilton AFB, Calif., said its helicopters could not land at the forbidding crash scene and a ground party from Las Vegas had to turn back because of cold, rain and snow.
Recovery operations hinged on the success of a 25-man crew from the Mohave County Sheriff's office, which set out from Kingman, Ariz., in eight four-wheel-drive vehicles yesterday. They faced an overland trek of 300 miles in snow and rain through the desert and rocky badlands from Arizona into Nevada, north into Utah and down to isolated Shivwits Plateau.
The posse spent the night in the small town of St. George, Utah, and resumed their journey this morning. The crash site was 75 miles to the south and deputies said only 50 miles of that was covered by a dirt road. Deputies said the last 25 miles would have to be over open country, with progress expected to be very slow.
A spokesman for the Mohave Sheriff's said a helicopter from Las Vegas landed at the crash scene shortly after the wreckage was located. The chopper was stranded at the site because of heavy winds and snow and an air force helicopter dropped the crew sleeping bags and food for their overnight stay.
Investigators said the cause of the crash apparently was icing on the plane's wings in the storm that drove the pilot to abandon their flight to the Grand Canyon and try to return to his Las Vegas base. Authorities who observed the wreckage from the air said the plane was splattered into small pieces, with only two large hunks of the fuselage intact.
The plane slammed into the wall of the 7,200-foot high plateau at about the 6,000 foot level. The plateau is about 40-miles north of Peach Springs and 95 miles northeast of Las Vegas in northwestern Arizona.

The Chronicle Telegram Elyria Ohio 1971-10-18
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