Dallas, TX Airplane Crash, Nov 1949

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18 Survive Crash

By United Press
DALLAS, Tex., Nov. 29 - Twenty-eight persons were killed Tuesday when an American Airlines DC-6 passenger plane, doomed by engine failure, crashed and burst into flames as its pilot tried to land at Love Field before dawn.
There were 46 persons aboard. Eighteen, including plane Capt. LAURENS (TOMMY) CLAUDE and two of his fellow crewmen, escaped, even as the angry, red fire spurted through the wreck and snuffed out the lines[sic] of the trapped.
Most of the 18 who lived to tell of the crash had seats in the central-forward part of the cabin. Expert aviators said two things worked for them: the plane's speed was slowed by an initial brush with one of three buildings it ignited, and the cabin broken open, when it crashed, behind the wings, giving exit barely ahead of the fire.
Those in the rear and extreme forward sections of the cabin were either trapped or too dazed to fight their way out in the brief time they had a chance.
CLAUDE, 52, of Fort Worth, was in charge of the luxury liner as it roared through the cool, clear morning sky toward Dallas from New York and Washington, D. C.
He had feathered the outside left propeller over Altheimer, Ark., and brought the big plane on, 315 miles to Dallas, with three engines working.
Then, the captain said in a statement, as he started to land at Love Field another engine went dead. This time, it was the outside right one.
This is how Capt. CLAUDE described the final fatal few seconds of the flight, Number 157;
"The Number Four engine (outside right) quit, and I called to the flight engineer to cut on the booster pump when the fuel flow dropped to zero. The West (left) wing dropped after the airplane started to mush in."
"I called for flaps and gear up to the first officer. With only two engines working, there wasn't much power to gain altitude to climb and he called out, 'She's a goner.'
"With that, as he said that, the airplane hit the hangar and burst into flames. After that, I have no clear recollection of anything that happened, except ... I dived through the forward baggage hatch, through the fire and started crawling away."
The time was 5:45 a. m. As it was crashing, the plane veered off sharply to the left - away from Love Field. It grazed the roof of one building at the airport's Northernmost fringe and dived to its fiery end, in a hangar-like building directly across the street. Three buildings caught fire from the wreckage and were destroyed.
A half-block away, MRS. J. H. DAVIS had risen early at her home to feed her cats. "The plane sounded awfully low, but I've got used to low-flying, living here by the airport," MRS. DAVIS said. "Then I heard a thud and there was a puff, and then flames lighted up the whole neighborhood."

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