Bluff City, TN Airliner Crashes On Holston Mountain, Jan 1959



The wreckage of the missing twin-engine Southeast Airlines plane was spotted around noon today by a Tennessee Air National Guard pilot.
He said the wrecked DC3 was located about 300 feet from the top of Holston Mountain, according to a spokesman at the Kingsport office of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
The plane was burned.
Ground rescue parties have been directed to the scene of the crash.
The plane, Flight 308 from Memphis, disappeared as it approached Tri-Cities Airport (McKellar Field) for a landing at 8:32 p.m. Thursday.
It carried seven passengers and a crew of three, according to airline officials. The flight left McGhee-Tyson Field at Knoxville at 7:46 p.m. Thursday and was due at Tri-Cities at 8:35 p.m.
At 8:32 p.m., the pilot of the airplane, a DC3, radioed the control tower he was making an instrument procedure turn to approach the field from the east. The pilot placed the plane's position five to eight miles east of the airport, near Bluff City.
That was the last word from Flight 308.
All Friday morning, airplanes of the Civil Air Patrol, the Tennessee Air National Guard and helicopters of the United States Air Force searched the snow-covered, mountainous region around South Holston Dam area.
On the frozen ground, search parties, including area units of the Tennessee National Guard were out looking for the missing airplane. Guard units, dispatched by Lt. Col. CHARLES K. MARSH, were to join a party of 100 already on foot.
ROBERT BURGESS, Times-News photographer, flew over the search area and reported the area shrouded with clouds, fog and a driving snow.
Names of the passengers and crewmen were released at 2 a.m. Friday. The airline explained records of stops and departures of all passengers delayed confirmation.
While officers searched the area, lifesaving crews of the area stood by at Bluff City awaiting a radio message that wreckage had been sighted.
Later the Civil Air Patrol set up headquarters in a hangar, and CAP men made efforts to contact the missing plane by radio while awaiting daylight to begin search flights.
The plane left Nashville at 5:30 p.m. (CST), about 30 minutes late. Normally it was due at Tri-City at 7:58 p.m.
After the fact that the plane was missing became known, reports began coming in from persons in East Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina of hearing or seeing what they believed to be a plane in trouble.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol reported it received a report of a flash on the side of a mountain in Avery County, N. C., some 50 miles southeast of the airport.
The patrol said, however, a search party which went to the area found nothing.
Another false report came of a noise sounding like an explosion or crash near Gunnings. A report that a plane was circling near Abingdon, Va., was believed by airport personnel to refer to a Piedmont plane which arrived at the airport about the same time the Southeast plane was expected.
The missing plane at first was reported to have sufficient fuel to last until 11:40 p.m., but the airline later said it had enough fuel to stay aloft until 2 a.m.
The Associated Press, reported that WANDA NALLEY, daughter of MRS. J. J. DICUS of Johnson City, was the stewardess on the plane.
IRVING TRAWICK, secretary and assistant treasurer of Southeast, and WILLIAM GRAHAM, the airline's director of operations, issued the following statement at 12:30 a.m.
"Southeast Airlines officially announces that Flight 308 of January 8, operating a normal schedule in terminate at Tri-Cities from Memphis at 7:58 p.m., is overdue."
"The plane has fuel enough to last until 2 a.m. We are not giving up any hope of locating the flight, and all efforts are being made to contact it."
"In addition to airlines and Federal Aviation Agency radio equipment, the Civil Air Patrol, state and county officers in four states (Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina) are also making efforts to make radio contact with the plane, which has radio equipment capable of sending or receiving on these bands."
"An official Southeast Airlines announcement will be forthcoming as soon as contact is made with the plane."
The airport control tower said visibility was about five miles with some haze at the time the plane radioed it was approaching the airport. There had been heavy snow about two hours earlier, but it had cleared.
The mysterious disappearance of the plane recalled the case of a twin-engined SNB Navy plane which crashed February 2, 1958, after a mid-air brush with a civilian plane near the airport. Helicopters and planes from Sewart Air Force Base, CAP planes and others searched for 12 days until the plane finally was found late February 14 on rugged Holston Mountain near the Shady Valley section about 10 miles east of Bristol. It was half-buried in snow.

Here is the passenger and crew list released by Southeast Airlines at 2 a.m. today:
W. L. DENNIS, Johnson City.
DR. R. L. HASCHE, 62, of Johnson City, president of the HASCHE Engineering Co. and inventor of dry ice. He is a former head of research and development at Tennessee Eastman Co.
MR. and MRS. FRANK HALSTEAD of Indian Springs. MRS. HALSTEAD, the former ELOISE HURD, is a dietician at Tennessee Eastman Co. She is 36.
JAMES A. PORTER, Nashville.
J. ALVIN BRADLEY, Kingsport public accountant.
Crew members were:
First Officer ROBERT IRWIN.
MATTHEWS and PORTER were coming to Kingsport in connection with selection of a site for a new National Guard armory here.

Kingsport Times Tennessee 1959-01-09