Michigan City, IN Airliner Crash, Dec 1946
PILOT, CO-PILOT KILLED, 19 HURT IN AIR WRECK.
Michigan City, Ind. Dec. 28 (AP) - Two crew members were killed and 19 other persons were injured today in the crash of an American Airlines plane near here.
The plane, described by an airlines spokesman as an "extra section" was en-route from Buffalo, N.Y. to Chicago.
It glided down from a heavy overcast near Lake Michigan, skimmed low over the beach and crashed through trees and other vegetation at scenic International Friendship Gardens three miles east of here.
The pilot, FRANK MATES HAMM, JR., of Bridgeport, Conn., and Chicago, was killed instantly, and the co-pilot, HARMON EDWIN RING, of Muscatine, Iowa, died a short time later.
Stewardess HELEN FRIEL, 22, of South Lastonberry, Conn., and three passengers all injured in the crash, administered to the others until medical aid arrived from Michigan City.
MISS FRIEL, suffered possible internal injuries but assisted in getting others from the wreckage.
"I saw ice accumulate on the wings when the pilot let down through the overcast," MISS FRIEL said.
"But it was not a dangerous amount. It began to peel off as we emerged from the clouds but the engines sounded strange. Just before the crash I realized something was wrong but there wasn't time to warn anyone."
HELEN BASS, 24, of New York City, a nurse, who was a passenger, supervised the removal of other passengers despite fractured ribs and other injuries. The injured were treated by DR. M. J. LOBEL, 41, of New York City, another passenger, who suffered a broken arm.
Two sailors, DOMINNICK BIFARO, 20, of Buffalo, N.Y., and JACK STORY, of Chicago, also gave first aid to the wounded.
As the plane, came in from the lake it was sighted by a section crew for the New York Central railroad.
"The plane made hardly a sound as it passed over our heads going southeast," S. E. Hall, a member of the crew reported. "We saw it disappear into the woods and knew it had crashed."
The plane was in a direct line with the Michigan City airport and it appeared the pilot may have been attempting to reach it for an emergency landing.
It cut a wide swath for several hundred yards through trees of the gardens before coming to a halt against a tree. The pilots' cabin, tail assembly and wings were sheared from the passengers' compartment which was relatively intact.
The wreckage did not catch fire.
"I don't know how I ever got out of it," DR. LOBEL said. He also verified the statement of the stewardess that there was ice on the wings. He said "none of the passengers had any indication the crash was impending."
Leo Boyle, press agent for the American Airlines, said the plane left Buffalo at 4:49 a.m. It left the Detroit Mich., airport at 8:42 a.m. and was expected to arrive at Chicago at 9:31 a.m. The crash occurred about 9:22 a.m.
Twenty minutes before the crash Pilot HAMM reported to the Chicago operations office that he was flying at 4,000 feet altitude over South Bend, Ind.
At 9:17 a.m. he reported he was having trouble with both engines and was descending.
Kellogg Air Field at Battle Creek, Mich., reported hearing the plane in trouble west of South Bend. At that time the plane was at 900 feet and losing 100 feet a minute when last heard from.
Scene of the crash is a large area devoted to horticultural development. It was once offered as a permanent home for the United Nations.
Decatur Herald Illinois 1946-12-29