Bridgeton, MO Canadian Cargo Plane Crashes, Jan 1984


Bridgeton, Mo. (AP) -- Investigators today examined the wreck of a Canadian DC-3 cargo plane that missed homes by only 300 feet when it crashed and burned after takeoff, seriously injuring two crew members and frightening residents "to death."
The airplane owned by Skycraft Air Transport Inc. of Oshawa, Ontario, brushed a hilltop near Lambert St. Louis International Airport late Monday night, bounced and tumbled into a ravine next to Interstate 70 and burst into flames.
Homeowners helped drag the injured crew members, thrown clear of the wreckage on impact, away from the burning plane.
A spokesman at DePaul Hospital in Bridgeton said the co-pilot of the plane, MILKO BLOOM, 27, of Oshawa, was in critical condition today after surgery for multiple fractures. The pilot, RANDY COX, 32, also of Oshawa, was in serious condition with multiple fractures, he said.
Cpl. Ralph Schmidt of the Missouri Highway Patrol said the World War II vintage aircraft had unloaded auto parts at the airport and was returning empty to Canada.
The impact sheared off the cockpit and one wing.
"I was in the back bedroom when a white light came through the window," aid Rick Grellner, whose home is about 300 feet from where the twin-propeller craft went down. "It sounded like a snowplow scraping against concrete."
"I heard a rumble and we ran to the window and I saw it come down," added Edith Wilson, a neighbor in the St. James residential subdivision. "It scared me to death -- it was too close for comfort."
She said her husband, Woodrow, and some neighbors helped pull the injured pilot and co-pilot to safety.
"We had to drag them out of the weeds -- they'd been thrown completely out of the plane," Mr. Wilson said. "We dragged them away from the plane because we were afraid it was going to explode."
The plane, whose propellers had been driven straight into the ground, was "blazing pretty good at the time," Mr. Wilson said.
"We were very fortunate that the plane missed these homes," said John Norris, fire chief of the Pattonville-Bridgeton Fire Protection District. "There are about 2,000 gallons of fuel still left in the plane which will require some watching, but there is no need of any evacuation at this time." He said pumpers would remove the fuel today.
Norris said the accident could have been much worse.
"It was right up against the highway," the chief said. "It's miraculous that somebody wasn't hurt. It was right on the embankment."
Norris said the craft followed a crash path less than 100 yards from houses in the subdivision. The weather was cold and overcast, with no rain or snow.
"The plane hit some power lines on the right hand side (of the division), spun around and came to rest," Schmidt said. "When I arrived the left wing tip around the motor area was on fire and one of the neighbors had come down and was pulling the bodies out of the ditch."
The DC-3, in its military version the C-47, was the workhorse for the military during World War II.
It also ushered in the era of modern air passenger travel with an inaugural trip between Chicago and New York in July 1936. Within 18 months of its maiden flight, the plane was the chief plane used by major airlines.

Casa Grande Dispatch Arizona 1984-01-10