Bolivia, NC Airliner Crashes In Woodlands, Jan 1960
Emergency and rescue vehicles rushed to the scene. A light rain fell as rescuers searched for bodies.
The FBI sent its special disaster squad to the scene. This was requested by CHARLES SHARP, National's vice president. The squad of three fingerprint experts has identified more than 80 per cent of the victims of airliner crashes it has investigated.
"We heard a loud noise about 2:40 a. m., that woke us up," said MRS. RUBY EDWARDS, Bolivia's postmistress. "And the first thing we thought of was a plane."
"The sound at first was sort of a 'poosh,' like it was coming down real fast. Then it sounded as if it was coming apart, and then there was a thud. It came down about half a mile from out home."
"When we found it hadn't been reported, we called the Wilmington Airport. We had looked out to see if there was a light or anything, but it was raining and real dense. We couldn't see anything."
A number of bodies lay among scattered luggage and pieces of the ship.
MRS. EDWARDS' husband, LESTER L. EDWARDS, a forest ranger, said it appeared to him that the plane might have exploded in flight. This opinion was shared also by DOYLE HOWARD, a reporter on the scene from the Wilmington News.
The giant night flying coach, a DC6B, was last heard from at 2:34 a.m. At that time the plane was just south of Wilmington when the pilot made a check.
The flight plane called for the plane to hug the coast on the leg from New York to Wilmington, then to swing out to sea for the overwater leg to Palm Beach. Weather conditions were to dictate when the plane was to turn over the Atlantic.
Clouds and rain lay in the plane's route as it passed Wilmington. But, said a spokesman, the big coach should have found clearing skies south of Wilmington. Airline officials said the ship had enough gasoline to remain aloft until 7:06 a.m. She was due at Miami at 4:36 a.m. It had left New York at 11:52 p.m.
Word that the plane was missing touched off a widespread search along the coast.
The Coast Guard put out seven aircraft and a number of surface vessels from Elizabeth City, N.C., Jacksonville and Miami. The Navy dispatched four vessels from Charleston, S.C., and four planes from Jacksonville.
Capt. C. H. RUDY, National's chief pilot, left Miami in a twin-engine Convair with a crew of eight in an apparent plan to trace northward over the DC6B's route.
A NAL plane, less than two months ago, crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, killing 42 persons aboard. It was on a flight from Miami to New Orleans. Most of the bodies and wreckage remain unrecovered.
In New York, National Airlines said it had asked the FBI to send experts to Bolivia to speed identification of the victims.
The airline said it was making efforts to fly relatives of the victims to the scene this afternoon.
The plane was manned by a veteran crew.
Capt. DALE SOUTHARD, 46, the pilot, flew bombers for a ferry service during World War II. He was born in Nebo, Mo. R. L. HENTZEL, 32, co-pilot, came with NAL in 1954 after five years in the Air Force. He was a Cleveland, Ohio, native. R. R. HALLECKSON, 35, flight engineer, joined the company in May, 1953. During World War II he served on B29 bombers. He was born in St. Paul, Minn.