Everett MA Chartered Plane Crashes, Aug 1947




Everett, Mass., Aug. 7 (UP) -- Four North Shore socialites, returning frm a Canadian holiday, met fiery death here early today when their chartered monoplane became lost in fog, plunged into the mouth of an oil refinery cauldron, and exploded.
Assistant Fire Chief James A. Scott identified the dead as:
THOMAS MANDELL, 56, of Beverly, a Boston broker whose family formerly published the Boston Evening Transcript for more than a half century.
MISS ANN MANDELL, 22, a daughter, of Boston.
MISS HARRIET MANDELL, 19, another daughter, same address.
JOHN NELSON BORLAND PELL, 32, of the fashionable Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton, the pilot.
Witnesses of the unusual accident agreed, that the cauldron was belching flames prior to the crash. However, after an investigation, Colonial-Beacon Oil Co. officials reported that only a pilot flame was burning in the cauldron at the time of impact. The roaring flames that followed the crash and which burned the victims almost beyond recognition resulted from the explosion of the plane's gasoline tank, they said.
The cauldron, officials said, was used periodically to burn waste gasses.
Scott said the party had taken off from Montreal last night and was scheduled to land at Beverly Airport, 20 miles north of here, at 12:53 a.m. The plane, off its course in the murky weather, crashed shortly after 2:30 a.m.
Officials said that in the fog the pilot apparently mistook the brightly lighted oil company reservation for nearby Logan International Airport, and had planned to come in for an emergency landing.
Oddly enough, the craft missed half a dozen skyscraping chimneys in the South Everett area, only to come down against the stubby brick cauldron, less than 40 feet high and 15 feet in diameter at the top.
The burst of gasoline fed flames came so quickly after the crash that observers thought the cauldron already was belching fire.
Scene of the unusual accident was a waste-gas furnace on the brightly lighted reservation of the Colonial-Beacon Oil Co., in South Everett which, in the fog, the pilot apparently mistook for nearby Logan International Airport.
It is of double walled brick construction, 40 feet high and 15 feet in diameter at the top. It burns like an inferno 24 hours a day, belching flames and smoke. Oddly enough, the plane missed half a dozen skyscraping chimneys in the South Everett area, only to come to doom against this stubby cauldron.
Scott, who happened to be at the refinery in connection with the installation of a new tank, was only a block away when the crash occurred. Through the murk he had sighted one light of the plane as it emerged from the fog. He said he could not hear the motor.
Smashing into the rim of the chimney, the plane disintegrated, with the wings being sheared off and most of the fuselage dropping into the flames inside the cauldron.
Both men and one of the girls were hurtled directly into the cauldron. The other girl dropped within the four-foot wide space between the two walls but she was burned almost beyond recognition when the plane's fuel tank emptied its blazing gasoline on her.
Firemen closed the intake valve through which the furnace is fed and brought up hoselines to quench the flames. Even after the blaze was out they continued to play water on the retort unti it was cool enough for them to approach.
The seared bodies of one man and one girl were recovered soon after the accident but it was more than two hours later that the other victims were extricated.
The task of identifying the dead would have consumed hours but for the fact that, as the plane plunged into the cauldron, one of its doors was torn loose from the fuselage and fell outside. In a pocket of the door was discovered the plane's registration papers and log. This data led police to check the Beverly airport where a watchman was found to be on duty, awaiting the plane's arrival.
Observers said the plane circled the area for several minutes prior to the accident, and that the pilot then suddenly cut his motor and headed for the chimney. Police believe he mistook the area for a landing strip.
Medical Examiner Andrew J. Guthrie viewed the bodies at the scene and then ordered them removed to the Henderson funeral home in Everett.
Federal Inspectors who viewed the accidnt scene said that if PELL had banked slightly to the left and traveled another 10 feet northward, he would have missed the chimney and landed in a shallow pond.

Lowell Sun Massachusetts 1947-08-07