Chesterton, IN Transport Plane Explodes, Oct 1933


Chesterton, Ind., Oct. 11 -- (UP) -- A giant twin-motored passenger airplane that exploded in mid-air and crashed in flames hear here in a rainstorm last night left seven persons dead today.
Three members of the crew and four passengers aboard the United Air Lines silver monoplane NC13304 were killed by the crash and their bodies burned beyond possible recognition by flames that reduced the ship to a charred mass of wreckage.
Names of the victims, as taken from the passenger list of the Air Line, were:
H. R. TARRANT, Chicago, pilot.
A. T. RUDY, Chicago, co-pilot.
ALICE SCHREIBNEU, Stevens Point, Wis., stewardess.
H. R. BURRIS, Columbus, O., radio operator.
MISS E. M. DUYER, Arlington, Mass., a passenger.
E. SMITT, Chicago, a passenger.
FRED SCHOENDORFF, Chicago, a passenger.
BURRIS was an employe of the United Air Lines but was not a member of the crew.
The plane, flying from Cleveland to Chicago, was within 50 miles of its goal when an explosion occurred. It slipped out of control at an altitude of about 1,000 feet and shot toward the earth at terrific speed.
United Air Lines officials made an examination before the mass of twisted steel had cooled, but were unable to determine the cause of the crash. The ship was one of the most modern of their fleet of planes. There had been no report of trouble from the radio operator aboard the ship.
The plane left Cleveland at 6:57 p.m. EST., and passed over Toledo at 7:39, on time. Only a few minutes before the crash the periodic radio report showed the ship over North Liberty, Ind., and "all well."
What happened in the huge air liner after that was forever sealed by the crash. It ran into rain over Indiana, but was headed into only a moderate wind. Some difficulty within the ship, and not the weather, was believed to have caused the wreck.
Farmers near where the plane plummeted to earth reported they heard an explosion and saw flames shooting from the front part of the ship. Flames did not envelope the ship, however, until it struck the ground.
An examination of the wreckage by E. L. LOTT, a United Airlines vice-president, failed to reveal any clue as to the cause of the disaster. He expressed the opinion that the plane was forced down by motor trouble and that all its occupants were killed by the crash.
Although the route of the plane took it west toward Chicago, it was headed east when it crashed. Observers said they believed the plane was out of control after the explosion and that the pilot was making a desperate effort to land if safely.
As it shot toward the earth at 150 miles or more an hour, it struck a group of small trees, clipping the trunks off like a scythe twenty to thirty feet from the ground. One of the engines of the twin-motored plane was roaring, the throttle apparently wide open as the ship descended.
After striking the small trees the plane nosed downward, striking several trees ten to twelve inches in diameter and tearing them from the ground by the roots. Flames from the ship set fire to the trees.
JOE GROFF, a farmer, and three neighbors who were playing cards at GROFF'S house heard the explosion and saw the plane descend. It was flying at about 1,000 feet when they first saw it.
They ran from the house as the giant air liner appeared headed straight for them. It veered and struck less than a hundred yards from the house. Immediately after striking there was a terrific explosion and flames shot up more than 100 feet into the air.
Shortly after midnight five charred bodies were removed from the wreckage that had burned for three hours. The bodies were horribly burned beyond recognition. Flesh fell from the bones as they were removed.

The Kokomo Tribune Indiana 1933-10-11

Transcriber's Note: The plane was destroyed by an explosive device placed in the cargo hold, consisting of nitro-glycerin and attached to a timing device. This was the first proven case of sabotage in the history of commercial aviation.