Memphis, TN Plane Crashes Into Mississippi River, Feb 1944



Memphis, Feb. 11. (AP) -- Twenty-four persons were believed killed last midnight when a trans-continental American Airlines plane crashed in the Mississippi river and sank immediately in the twenty-two-foot channel fifteen miles below Memphis.
Hits Water.
Several crewmen with the U. S. engineers reported hearing the plane flying low overhead and one said he saw it hit the water and sink seconds after being enveloped in flames.
"There was a terrific explosion and fire," said CHARLEY WILLIAMS, watchman for an engineer's crew. "It seemed to sink immediately."
WILLIAMS said the plane hit the water about fifty or seventy-five yards from his barge and that "something exploded -- it sounded like when you light a skyrocket." He said there later was a "swishing sound and then an explosion like a big firecracker" before it sunk beneath the water.
VERNON ROYER of Hickman, N. Y., operator of a boat with the barge, said he felt the waves slap the boat soon after the crash.
When WILLIAMS and Foreman W. R. WELLBORN reached the scene by boat, they found no trace of the big plane, which was en route from Los Angeles to New York.
WILLIAMS said the plane was on its course for the Memphis airport where it was due at 11:38 p.m. (CWT).
See Wreckage.
"It was quite low," WILLIAMS said, "and appeared to be tipped a little to the right but the engines seemed to be all right and there were no flames. It angled into the river about half-way across."
Coast guard boats and several searching parties, including one from the airlines Memphis office and another of agents from the federal bureau of investigation, searched the area without success for three hours before daylight. Grappling hooks were to be used but rivermen said considerable delay might be expected in discovering the plane if it broke up in the swift current before hitting bottom.
At least ten of the twenty-one passengers aboard the plane, flight No. 2, which stopped at Dallas and Little Rock, were members of the armed forces. The three crewmen were Capt. D. B. FRANCIS, First Officer R. R. MAJORS and Stewardess DOVIE HOLYBEE, all based at Fort Worth.
Weather conditions at the time the plane reported itself near the river -- seven minutes before due in Memphis --were described as "scattered, broken clouds" with the temperature near freezing.
No Cause Given.
The plane was communicating with the airlines office when it crossed a route marker at Bruin, Ark., which notifies the pilot to prepare for landing. It did not make the routine contact with the airport tower for landing instructions.
Officials were unable to advance any probable cause of the crash.
J. O. CONNOR, Memphis station manager, said the coast guard and U. S. engineers were in charge of the search. The engineers sent a barge with a crane to the scene and hoped to raise the plane and bring it to Memphis before removing any bodies.
The coast guard reported that drag lines had located part of the plane and preparations were being made to lift it.
The Passenger List.
Dallas, Tex., Feb. 11. (AP) -- The regional headquarters of American Airlines today issued the following list of twenty-four crewmen and passengers aboard a plane which crashed into the Mississippi river near Memphis, Tenn., around midnight.
Capt. DALE B. FRANCIS, Fort Worth, Tex., the pilot.
First Officer RAY R. MAJORS, Fort Worth.
Stewardess DOVIE HOLYBEE, Fort Worth.
Boarded the plane at Dallas:
DR. O. L. ROBERTS, Philadelphia, Pa., Atlantic Refining company.
Capt. EDGAR F. ZARR, 28, Dallas, the 5th ferrying command, destination, Baltimore.
E. C. MILLER, Consolidated Steel corporation, Wilmington, Calif., destination, Washington.
Lt. HOWARD L. HALLA, 20th ferrying group, Nashville, Tenn.
Lt. HERBERT F. SUBMEIER, 20th ferrying group, Nashville, home address, Selah, Wash.
Lt. LINTON M. SEIFERT, engineer school detachment, Camp Young, Calif.
Lt. CHARLES S. SPRING, engineer school detachment, Camp Young.
Lt. CHARLES E. BRUMFIELD, destination, Evansville, Ind.
Lt. VICTOR L. RAMSEY, Dallas, 5th ferrying group, destination, Dayton, Ohio.
Boarded the plane at Little Rock, Ark.:
WAC Second Lt. ELIZABETH B. McGUIRE, Sedge Field, N. C., home Little Rock.
Boarded the plane at Los Angeles:
FRANK A KENNEDY, Morrison-Knudson company, home, Boise, Idaho.
SAM SANTOMISSIMO, Walsh-Kaiser company, San Francisco.
L. B. O'CONNOR of the war production board, Arlington, Va., destination, Washington.
Lt. I. BOHRER, replacement depot basic training command, Fresno, Calif.
Ensign T. E. MALLOY, address unknown, destination, Cleveland.
Boarded the plane at Phoenix.
Lt. CARL W. RASSMUSSEN, Luke field, Phoenix, destination, New York.
Capt. SAMUEL G. ROSENFIELD, 98th evacution hospital, Los Angeles.
Boarded the plane at Fort Worth:
J. J. RYAN, Sperry corporation, Garden City, N.Y.
R. C. MATTHEWS, Sperry corporation, Garden City.
D. S. PENSYL, Sperry corporation, Garden City.

Reno Evening Gazette Nevada 1944-02-11