Ellicott City, MD United Airliner Crashes, Nov 1962
ALL ON BOARD VISCOUNT ARE FOUND DEAD.
UNITED AIRLINER APPARENTLY IN TROUBLE BEFORE CRASH.
WAS EN ROUTE TO NATIONAL AIRPORT.
By Luther Moore
Ellicott City, Md. (AP) -- A United Air Lines Viscount plane plummeted from a bright sunny sky today and crashed in a woods on a farm hear here. All 17 persons aboard were killed.
It was United Flight 297 enroute from Newark, N. J. to Atlanta, Ga. Four Crewmen and 13 passengers were killed, including 10 persons employed by United.
One of the passengers was SPENCER SILVERTHORNE, of New York, president of the Empire State Chamber of Commerce, who was en route to Atlanta to attend a wedding.
The Federal Aviation Agency reported the pilot gave no hint of impending trouble before the plane disappeared from a radar scope. The Viscount was preparing for a landing at Washington's National Airport.
In Radio Contact.
The FAA said radio communications with the craft before the crash were "entirely routine" and that the pilot had acknowledged a routine instruction only three minutes before.
A farmer who arrived on the scene immediately after the crash said the heat was so intense he could not go near it.
"I got in my car right after the crash and drove down to the woods where the plane crashed, but there was nothing I could do," said CLARK GAITHER owner of the farm where the plane crashed.
"I heard the sputtering motor and then there was silence," MRS. GAITHER said. She said she was sitting at the kitchen table having lunch with her husband.
"We waited for the engine to come back on. It never did." She said there was a loud explosion. She rushed to the back door and looked across the rolling farmland of Howard County.
"There was a tremendous explosion and a mass of flames," she said. "Then there were two more explosions, not as loud as the first."
THOMAS J. JENKINS, agent in charge of the Baltimore office of the FBI, said he had been asked to send a disaster squad from his office to help identify the bodies.
DR. RUSSELL FISHER, state medical examiner, probed about the smoking wreckage directing state troopers, wearing long white coats in rocovering the bodies burned under pieces of the wreckage.
A volunteer fireman who arrived on the scene only minutes after the crash said, "I only saw one body. It looked something like a body."
Most of the bodies were hidden under pieces of metal. The earth was furrowed in the immediate area of the impact and surprisingly few trees were knocked down by the crash.
Bodies Taken Away.
By 2:45 there were eight bodies covered with white tarpaulins and laid in neat rows.
An hour later, DR. FISHER said: "All right we have enought now to call it 17." Ambulances took the bodies away.
At 3:25 FAA investigators dug the flight recorder from the wreckage. CHRIS WALK, FAA official called back from a vacation, said the mechanism recorded altitude, gravity, speed and other data. It is housed in a metal casing shaped like a ball and capable of sustaining great punishment.
Officals hope to learn some of the causes of the crash from examining the information gathered by the flight recorder.
The crash happened about 12:15 p.m., 10 miles southwest of Baltimore, just off Maryland 108 near Clarksville.
Bodies Under Wreckage.
"It was a horrible thing," said a newsman at the scene. "You wouldn't have believed anybody was there because the bodies were hidden under pieces of somking wreckage."
"The ground looks like it was plowed up, gray with ashes."
Wreckage was strewn over an area 100-150 yards in diameter. The largest piece was about 15 feet long. One engine was intact, but otherwise the wreckage looked like scrap.
Some trees caught fire. Big chunks of the smoking metal lay everywhere in the area. Sometimes, two or three troopers were needed to pull the wreckage off the bodies. Bits of clothing were scattered through the tree branches.
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