Atlantic Ocean Off Miami, FL Air Crash Rescue, June 1950
37 SURVIVORS OF ATLANTIC AIR CRASH RESCUED BY DESTROYER.
STILL MISSING IN DISASTER.
MOTOR FAILED OVER OCEAN ON FLIGHT TO WILMINGTON, DEL.
Miami -- (AP) -- The Destroyer USS Saufley radioed at 9:20 a.m. (EST) today that it had picked up 37 survivors of a twin-engine airplane which crashed into the Atlantic ocean 275 miles northeast of here.
Those saved included the pilot.
There was no report on the remainder of the 65 passengers and crewmen who were on the plane.
The destroyer informed Coast Guard headquarters in Miami that all survivors picked up were "in good condition."
The destroyer's message:
"Recovered 37 survivors. Position 27 degrees 51 minutes north, 75 degrees 32 minutes west. All in rafts pilot believes remainder have life jackets. Continuing coordinated search with planes and picking up all empty rafts."
The pilot's belief that all the missing passengers had life jackets raised hopes that the loss of life would be small.
Earlier, a Coast Guard aircraft, circling over the rescue scene, reported 22 survivors were found. But another plane of the Westair Company which participated in the search reported seeing 45 in the life rafts.
All the passengers were migratory workers from Puerto Rico, enroute to the United States.
The plane was enroute from San Juan Puerto Rico to Wilmington, N. C., when a motor failed. It made a futile attempt to reach Nassau.
The Destroyer USS Saufley started picking up the survivors from five liferafts at 7:30 a.m. (EST) as Coast Guard and commerical[sic] planes hovered overhead. Coast Guard cutters, freighters and other vessels were in the area.
There was no immediate indication as to the fate of the missing passengers.
The rescue came almost exactly a year after a transport plane went into the Atlantic on the takeoff from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Miami, killing 53 persons. The date was June 7, 1949.
Survivors were plucked from the sea today less than 10 hours after the stricken aircraft's pilot messaged "it looks like I'm going into the drink."
Radioed For Help.
The time was then 10:06 p.m. (EST). Veteran Piilot JOSEPH HALSEY of Seattle, Wash., radioed one engine was out and he was flying at 200 feet and losing altitude rapidly.
He said he was trying to reach Nassau in the Bahamas.
After that nothing more was heard from the plane.
Coast Guard Air Sea Rescue headquarters went into action immediately, sending an armada of air and surface craft rushing toward the area. Ships at sea were diverted from their course.
An hour later a sister plane, circling the area, reported it sighted a flare and a flashlight blinking out an S.O.S.
The sister plane was flying south from Wilmington. It remained at the scene until its fuel supply ran low, then flew into Nassau for more.
At 5:45 a.m. (EST) a Coast Guard plane based at Elizabeth City, N. J., radioed tersely:
Operations officers pinpointed the location on their charts. It was 27 degrees 50 minutes north, 75 degrees 30 minutes west, about 275 miles east northeast of Miami.
More than 30 planes and surface vessels taking part in the search were notified.
Reports poured in. Three rafts full of people were spotted and conunted. They totaled 33. A few minutes later another Westair Company plane taking part in the search radioed they counted 45 survivors on five life rafts.
The Destroyer Saufley and the Grace Line vessel Santa Paula swung alongside. The Saufley began rescue operations.
The weather was clear and sunny and the life rafts tossed gently in three to five foot ground swells.
Coast Guard officers said the good weather helped considerably.
Panama City News Herald Florida 1950-06-06