Aspen, CO Rocky Mountain Plane Crash, Jan 1970
FROZEN WINDSHIELD WIPERS BLAMED IN ASPEN PLANE CRASH.
Aspen, Colo. (AP) -- Poor visibility because of frozen windshield wipers was blamed Thursday for the crash of a Rocky Mountain Airways plane bringing death to the pilot and all seven passengers.
The twin engine turboprop Aero-Commander crashed into a snowy hillside about three miles west of its destination at this winter resort town high in the mountains, authorities disclosed.
The pilot was identified as RUSSELL S. HARRISON, 35, of Golden, Colo. The seven passengers were:
ALEXANDER GROSS, 44, of Denver.
ROBERT P. WEBSTER, JR., 21, of Lowell, Mass.
CLAYTON S. KELLER, of Short Hills, N.J.
STUART A. LACKMAN, of Washington, D.C.
HERBERT A. HERMANN, of Barrington, Ill.
DOUGLAS F. SMITH, of Winnetka, Ill.
JOHN M. KEIM, of Winnetka, Ill.
Arthur Neumann of the National Transportation Safety Board said weather conditions at the time of the crash were acceptable, with a light snow falling, five miles visibility and a 3,000 foot ceiling.
But airport officials here said the pilot, HARRISON, radioed them that his windshield wipers were failing. When a first approach of the airport failed, HARRISON attempted another, they said.
The plane went aground just 45 yards from the home of Dr. and Mrs. William H. T. Murray, hitting a 25-foot retaining wall, authorities said.
Mrs. Murray said they heard a whoosh and then their house was jarred by the impact of the plane nearby. When her husband reached the scattered wreckage, everyone aboard was dead, she said.
It was the first Rocky Mountain Airways crash involving fatalities since the mommuter line, serving mainly the ski resorts of Vail and Aspen, scheduled service four years ago.
The plane had left Denver's Stapleton International Airport at 7 a.m. Thursday and was flying on a northwest course to Aspen at the time of the crash, officials reported.
John Pabst, airport manager here, said the air traffic controller on duty reported that the pilot "looked as though he were doing fine, but all of a sudden he stacked up."
Lee Marting of NTSB and Al Cook of the Federal Aviation Administration's district office left Denver by automobile Thursday morning to investigate the crash Neumann said.
The pilot's wife disclosed she previously had lost her father, William F. Van Winkle, and a sister, Miss Dorothy E. Van Winkle, in 1965 when their single engine airplane crashed within sight of the Santa Fe N.M. airport.
The Greeley Daily Tribune Colorado 1970-01-23