Atlanta, MO TWA Night Airliner Crashes, May 1935





Macon, Mo., May 7 -- (UP) -- The log of the demolished "Sky Chief," luxurious TWA night airliner, revealed today that its radio equipment functioned improperly almost from the time it left Los Angeles until it crashed in a pasture near here.

Macon, Mo., May 7 -- (AP) -- The death toll in the crash of the fog bound TWA airliner near Atlanta, Mo., was increased to five today with the death of MRS. WILLIAM KAPLAN of West Los Angeles.
MRS. KAPLAN, wife of WILLIAM KAPLAN, Hollywood film studio executive, died early this morning, nearly 24 hours after the big dual-motored craft struck the earth while the pilot was seeking an emergency landing field.
Two Others Critical.
Two others were described in a critical condition as a result of injuries suffered in the accident which brought death to Senator BRONSON CUTTING of New Mexico.
The condition of PAUL WING, Hollywood, was reported "very low." D. B. DREW, Santa Monica, Cal., although reported in a critical condition, was said by physicians to be resting easy after a blood transfusion.
The dying words of the pilot, bits of wreckage and the stories of survivors and rescuers formed the jigsaw pattern of which investigators sought the cause of the crash.
Without the information which Pilot HARVEY BOLTON and Co-pilot KENNETH H. GREESON could supply were they alive, investigators referred repeatedly to BOLTON'S last words:
"I ran out of gasoline."
Aeronautical Hell.
Whatever the cause of the crash, fellow pilots agreed that he must have lived through an "aeronautical hell" during the time he was seeking an emergency field in the face of the blinding fog and the knowledge that his gasoline supply was running low.
"Please adjust your safety belts" flashed the illuminated sign to the 11 passengers, many of whom were asleep, unaware of the troubles of the crew. This was followed by the co-pilot's warning to "buckle your belts tight."
Then came the crash in a muddy pasture.
Senator CUTTING, GREESON and MISS JEANNE ANNE HILLIAS, 20, Kansas City, were dead when rescuers reached the scene. BOLTON died a few hours later.
EVERETT WIGGANS, a country storekeeper, who was among the first to reach the dying pilot, said BOLTON expressed concerning for his injured passengers.
American Legionnaires formed an escort of honor when the body of Senator CUTTING was borne to a Burlington train for the trip to New York.
The body will be transferred at St. Louis to the New York Central and is scheduled to arrive in New York at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. CLIFFORD McCARTHY, New Mexico supervisor of Indian relief, is accompanying the body.
Additional witnesses appeared today at the coroner's inquest into the tragedy to tell how the big twin-motored airliner roared over fog-bound central Missouri, seeking an emergency landing with gas supply running low, and crashed on a rain-soaked farm near Atlanta, Mo.
Department of commerce agents and TWA officials were conducting separate inquiriers in an attempt to determine the cause of the wreck.
BLAND GENTNER, who first reached the scene of the crash, testified over company objections at the coroner's inquest today that Pilot HARVEY BOLTON explained, "I was out of gas."
BOLTON died shortly after reaching a hospital.
GENTNER, wiry young farmer, broke down completely under the questioning as he recalled the scenes of horror.
He told of his efforts to assist the victims despite the fact he carried his right arm in a sling as a result of a fracture received three weeks ago while cranking an automobile.
He said he heard the crash but remained in bed until he was reawakened by the barking from dogs.
"Then I heard that fellow (WILLIAM KAPLAN) hollering for help," he said.
KAPLAN had hobbled to the GENTNER home for help, although he suffered a broken ankle.
As GENTNER choked over his words someone at the counsel table said, "Get him a drink of whisky," but none was found immediately. The witness was calmed by Sheriff WILLIAMS.
"Well," he resumed, "I went down there and saw those people dead and injured. MR. KAPLAN covered them up as I went after CHARLIE BLEDSOE, a neighbor.
Testifying as to whether the engines quit before the crash, GENTNER said:
"The sound all ended at once. It sounded like glass breaking. That's all. It was dark and I didn't know what happened until that fellow came up to the house."

Jefferson City Post Tribune Missouri 1935-05-07


Plane crash near Barnsville, MO

My grandfather Joe Beeson lived near the crash site, he and his borthers Velmore, Virgil and Lindwood Butler helped take the bodies to the funeral home in Atlanta, MO.
Hollywood movie star Tobie Wing, daughter of Paul Wing who was injured in the wreck, came to Barnsville to see the crash site, the weather was still bad and roads were muddy, so she ended up staying overnight with my grandparents. As the story was told, my grandmother was not very happy to suddenly be the hostess to a famous movie star without prior notice! Grandpa Joe was well known for bringing home last minute guests, but this was almost more than Grandma Della could take.
Clifford Grubbs, a nephew to Everett Wiggans, recalls pestering his father until he relented and took him to the crash site the morning after the accident. He said he was so young he really had no business being there and he remembers the men taking out the last body. He also remembered seeing stacks of the lunch trays from the plane piled up near the road, as they tried to save things from the plane.
My dad, Raymond Stull lived north of Plainview, which was several miles north of Barnsville, and his dad hitched up the team of horses to a wagon and they went to see the crash site. Guards were protecting it so they weren't able to get very close. Years later after my parents, Raymond and Mardella (Beeson) Stull, were married some people from California came to their home near Barnsville and asked to be shown where the plane had crashed. Mom took them over there but nothing was left to be seen.