Philadelphia, PA Airliner Crashes In Philadelphia, Jan 1951


Philadelphia (AP) -- A four-engine commercial airliner crashed and burst into flames at International Airport yesterday, killing seven persons including a heroic stewardess who rescued 10 passengers from the fiery plane. The National Airlines DC4 skidded on an ice-sheathed runway, smashed through a picket fence and roared into flame, spraying burning gasoline over a 200-yard area.
Jump Through Windows.
An official at the morgue said the victime were five women and two babies, a girl and a boy.
An eyewitness said fire broke out 15 seconds after the plane hit the ditch. Some of the 25 passengers and three crewmen jumped through windows to safety.
FRANCES (FRANKIE) HOUSLEY of Jacksonville, Fla., the stewardess, gave her life in her rescue mission.
A sailor, who jumped through a window, told a reporter "I watched the stewardess lead 10 persons to safety, then go back into the burning plane. She never came out."
Plane Overshoots Runway.
Marine Pvt. RICHARD BENEDICT, 19, of Northboro, Mass., said he leaped to safety through an open door.
"I went back into the plane as flames burst all around me and grabbed a woman and child," he said. "That's all I remember. The next thing I knew I was walking up the bank in front of the plane. I could hear people screaming and I saw flames and smoke pouring out the top of the fuselage."
"The plane overshot the runway," said Col. J. VICTOR DALLIN, chief of the Philadelphia Aeronautical Bureau. "Ice and snow on the ground probably contributed to the fact that the pilot didn't have enough normal braking action. However, we are not sure of that."
Guard Almost Hit.
The sky was dim and dark and the DC4 from Newark, N. J., came in for a landing at 2:13 p. m. A light snow fell from the overcast sky coating the already icy runway.
At Washington, the Civil Aeronautics Board ordered a full investigation.
A CAB official said pictures of the crash indicate the pilot landed on the runway but that ice and sleet probably prevented normal braking action.
One airport guard narrowly missed being hit by the plane.
Guard CHARLES ROGERS, a Negro, said he was "making a tour of the airport" in a car and that he had to apply his brakes, "skidding off the road in order to avoid being struck by the plane. My car was covered with gasoline."
He said he was 100 feet from the plane when it skidded off the runway and crashed into a pair of concrete, embedded floodlights.
The left wing of the plane was clipped off by the floodlights. Then the plane hopped into the ditch.
"Many people jumped out of the plane," ROGERS said, adding:
"One woman jumped out with her coat on fire. She threw off the coat and ran away."
It was the first crash at International Airport since the big air hub in southwest Philadelphia was put in operation in June, 1940.
Meanwhile, in Newark, a National Airlines spokesman said the plane was delayed there for 34 minutes while a generator in number four engine was repaired. The plane's next scheduled stop was Norfolk, Va.
Many went to hospitals in the area and were treated for burns but none was injured seriously.
List of Casualties In Airliner Crash.
Philadelphia (AP) -- The following list of probable dead in Sunday's airliner crash was announced by National Airlines:
MARY FRANCES HOUSLEY, stewardess, Jacksonville, Fla.
MRS. N. E. JOYNES, 58, mother of L. N. JOYNES, who is associated with the JOYNES Tire Co., Norfolk, Va.
MARION CARDEN, 28, daughter of MRS. WILSON POWELL, Norfolk, Va.
MRS. HULDAN (or HUBIAN), New York City.
Infant Child of MRS. MANUELA SMITH, Norfolk, Va.
MRS. H. MARCHIANO and an Infant Child, of Mt. Cisco, N. Y.

The Bradford Era Pennsylvania 1951-01-15


Mrs. Smith, My name is Chris

Mrs. Smith,

My name is Chris Hammond. I teach at Central High School in Knoxville TN where Mary Frances Housley graduated. She is also buried up here. We are working on trying to fundraise for a monument for her in her hometown. I'd love to speak with you! Please email me at

1951 Plane Crash

Hi Julie,
I am sorry for your loss. I am also named after the infant, Brenda Joyce Smith, found dead in Frankie's arm. My mother, Manuela Hernandez was a survivor of the crash but passed away in 1985.
I never knew my sister but feel that kindred spirit also.

My aunt, Marion Carden, was

My aunt, Marion Carden, was killed in this crash along with her future mother-in-law, Mrs. Joynes. They were returning from a shopping trip in New York for Marion's wedding. I can't imagine how Mrs. Joynes son and Marion's finance must have felt. I am named for my aunt and understand we are very much alike. Don't worry, Aunt Marion! I am as passionate and fun-loving as you were. We are truly kindred spirits even though we never met.

Plane Crash -January 14, 1951

My aunt, Marion Carden, was one of the six passengers who died in that crash. I am named after her and having heard what she was like I'm sure we would have been kindred spirits.
Marion and Mrs Joynes (who also perished in the fire) were returning from a shopping spree in New York to celebrate Marion's up and coming wedding to Mrs. Joynes son, Sam. I can only imagine the pain that gentleman went through losing both his mother and fiancé in the same crash.
Don't worry, Aunt Marion! I am as passionate and fun-loving as you were! We are still kindred spirits even though I never met you.


My dad survived the plane crash and helped many off the burning aircraft before he jumped to safety !!

Philly 1951 Plane Crash

There is a plaque at the Philadelphia Fire Department station just outside the airport honoring the stewardess.

PHL Airliner crash /National Airlines Jan 1951

After all these years,has anyone ever thought of contacting the AFA, which represents airline flight attendants,to see if some kind of monument
can be placed at or near that area on the PHL, Philadelphia International Airport property,or do a plaque or something and have it placed inside the
airport,so the public can be aware,that there have been many unsung airline heroes who have given. their lives to protect their passengers