Chicago, IL Runaway Airplane Rolls into Fence, Aug 1955

Runaway Airliner Rolls into Fence

Chicago (AP)-A Northwest Airlines pilot who found his giant four engine airliner had insufficient braking power after landing applied an expert rudder Friday to save the 66 persons aboard from possible death or injury.

George Stone of Minneapolis, landing his Stratocruiser from the southeast after a trip from Minneapolis, saw he could not avoid over running the field.

“When I saw the rigid arrow markers, landing light and gasoline stations at the corner of the field,” Stone told a reporter, “I applied full left rudder.”

The big plane veered from the runway, drove through a steel wire fence which served to stop it, and rolled into the middle of Central Ave., narrowly missing a car.

Two women from the automobile were taken to a hospital for treatment of shock. No one aboard the airliner was injured.

Co-pilot Ralph Gray of Minneapolis credited Stone’s decisive action with averting a possible major tragedy.

“he used up all the runway he could afford,” Gray said, “and then turned us away from real trouble.”

Patrick Dunne, Midway Airport safety director, said a contributing factor was failure of the mechanism which reverses propellers to help slow the speed of the plane after landing.

The runway plane came to a stop less than 100 yards from the spot where another airliner crashed July 24 with a loss of 22 lives.

It was a terrible experience for five persons in the automobile driven by George Meyers, a 38-year-old spot welder, of Youngstown, Ohio.

Meyers, who had just started south from a street intersection at one corner of the airport, saw the plane careening toward him and jammed on his own brakes, stopping 15 feet from where the plane came to rest.

Meyers, still pale and shaken, told a reporter, ‘There is was coming through the grass with a horrible roar and banging, with those propellers whirring.’

Rockford Morning Star, Rockford, IL 6 Aug 1955