Salt Lake City, UT Area Plane Crashes Into Ensign Peak, May 1942






Salt Lake City, May 2 (UP) -- The towering, jagged, snow-capped Wasatch mountains today yielded the bodies of 17 persons, killed last night when a United Air Lines Mainliner crashed near Ensign Peak during a rain and sleet storm.
The mainliner hit 300 feet from the top of a peak as it circled in for a landing at the Salt Lake airport -- seven miles away -- on its journey from San Francisco to New York City.
Near Capitol Building.
Had the huge silver and blue plane been those 300 feet higher it would never have crashed. Instead, the plane thundered into the north side of the peak which juts up from the treacherous range a few miles north of the granite tower of the Utah state capitol building.
The exact time of the crash was undetermined. Most witnesses said eleven-ten p. m. or a few minutes later. However, airline officials said some reports indicated the plane may have crashed at ten-fifty p. m. -- five minutes after the last radio contact.
The victims were 13 adult passengers, a 1-year-old baby and three crew members. As in three other commercial airliner crashes in the Wasatches in the last five years, there were no survivors. More than 50 persons have died in the four accidents.
The victims of the latest wreck of the Wasatches were:
Lieutenant Commander J. G. BURROWS, care of U. S. navy, Washington, D. C.
Lieutenant C. S. TUCKER, U. S. N., en route to Washington, D. C.
Lieutenant HERMAN J. FRANKENBURG, U. S. army, Wichita, Kansas.
M. L. PATTERSON of New Jersey.
F. B. VOSE, Brooklyn, en route to New York.
(PATTERSON and VOSE were connected with the Sperry Gyroscope company.)
ARMOND D. HERG, Los Angeles, en route to Chicago.
C. R. DRENK, Fruitvale, Calif., en route to Cleveland.
MRS. J. A. LLOYD, Burlingame, Calif.
MRS. LLOYD'S infant son, J. A. LLOYD, 1 year old.
C. M. COLE, San Francisco.
R. P. BARRETT, en route to St. Louis, Mo.
MRS. J. PALERMO, Cleveland, Ohio.
NEVA CANTWELL, stewardess, San Francisco.
Captain DON BROWN, pilot, San Francisco.
First Officer HAROLD MINER, co-pilot, San Francisco.
Lived 20 Minutes.
One of the male passengers, according to a man who reached the scene soon after the crash, lived for about 20 minutes after the accident, but was so badly injured that he was unable to talk.
The witness, ROBERT PEARSON of Salt Lake City, said he helped the man from the burning wreckage of the crashed plane, covered him with a blanket and left for help. When aid arrived the man was dead.
PEARSON had been attracted to the muddy side of the peak and the wrecked plane by the noise of the explosion that came when the mainliner hit.
PEARSON said he detected the sound of the planes' motors shortly before the crash and it "seemed to be in trouble."
P. A. LARSON, who also lived in a residential area near the capitol, agreed with PEARSON.
A brilliant fire raged after the plane hit, but it was soon extinguished by the rain and sleet that was falling. Some parts of the wreckage were still smouldering, however, hours after the wreck.
Bodies Removed.
The rain made travel up the muddy, brush-covered mountainside difficult. Ordinary automobiles bogged down when they tried to travel up a crude mountain road. Finally, a huge, 10-wheeled army, truck was brought into service to remove the bodies.
Expert pilots, awaiting the arrival of official investigators, were at a loss to explain the reason for the accident.
The plane, radio operators said, had left San Francisco at seven-fifteeh, p. m., M. W. T., and was due here at nine-fifty p. m. At ten-fifty-six p. m., Pilot BROWN radioed he was 10 miles north of the Salt Lake airfield, flying at an altitude of 12,000 feet, on the radio navigation beam that would have taken him into the airport.
BROWN radioed that visibility was nine miles. Despite the storm, pilots said this was a safe visibility level. But nothing more was heard from the plane. It crashed into the peak between eleven-ten and eleven-fifteen p.m.
Plane Demolished.
The plane was practically demolished.
One wing was leaning against a small tree. One motor was torn loose and hurled in the slope. A wheel was 250 feet away. The fusilage was badly cracked.
Bodies were scattered over an area of 150 feet. Identification was difficult because all those aboard were badly burned.
It was the first United Air Lines crash since one of their mainliners missed the Chicago airport and fell in a street on December 4, 1940.
One month to the day before the Chicago crash, a similar mainliner hit Bountiful peak, 20 miles north of Salt Lake City and 17 miles from the scene of tonight's accident. Ten persons -- all aboard -- were killed in the Bountiful peak accident.
Like last night's crash, the Bountiful wreck occurred during a snowstorm. An official investigation blamed it on a faulty radio beam that led the pilot to believe he was over Great Salt Lake -- 10 miles west -- when actually he was zooming down the foothills of the Rockies.

The Ogden Standard-Examiner Utah 1942-05-02