Hillsboro, VA Airliner Crash Kills 50, June 1947



Leesburg, Va., June 14 (AP) --The splattered wreckage of a Capital Airlines plane, missing since last night, was located on a mountain top northwest of here today and there appeared no hope any of the 50 persons aboard had survived.
JAMES FRANKLIN, maintenance director for the airlines, sighted the wreckage from a small search plane.
"It looks as though it exploded and was torn all to pieces," he said. "The wings are imbedded in the mountain."
As for survivors, FRANKLIN said, "I don't see how there could be."
Rescue parties were making their way through the brushy, rugged country to the scene but it was expected to be hours before they could reach there and return.
The ship, flying from Chicago to Washington on a murky, rainswept course, went silent late yesterday after making a routine radio exchange with a station at Martinsburg, W. Va.
As the hours passed without further word, hundreds of men were enlisted in a night ground search throughout this area on the Virginia-West Virginia border.
At daybreak, as these parties still scoured the hills, FRANKLIN took off in a light plane from Winchester, Va., and found the airliner by following its normal course.
The big ship was a four-engine plane of the type known to commercial flyers as a DC-4. Like two other planes which crashed with heavy loss of life in the last 17 days, it was a former Army plane -- a military C-54 converted to civilian use.
Forty-two persons died May 29 in the fiery crack-up of a similar plane taking off from La Guardia Field, N. Y. The next day another plane of the same type crashed near Port Deposit, Md., killing 53.
Investigators of both those crashes still are under way. Some indications developed that a structural failure in the tail assembly caused the Port Deposit disaster and the Army and Navy ordered their C-54s temporarily grounded pending inspection of this assembly.
Aboard the Capital Airlines ship were 47 passengers -- one a 10-month-old infant -- and a crew of three, pilot, co-pilot and hostess.
Among the passengers was DR. COURTNEY SMITH, for the past two years medical director of the American Red Cross. He was returning to his home in Washington from the Red Cross national convention in Cleveland.
Another was DAVID P. GODWIN, 55, chief of the fire control for the U. S. Forest Service.
Also among the passengers were a honeymoon couple, DR. and MRS. JOSEPH H. MARKO, Cleveland newlyweds, and a 17-year-old girl, MARGARET KUEPPERS, of St. Paul, who was taking her first airplane ride as a high school graduation gift from her parents.
The pilot, Capt. HORACE STARK, 46, was a veteran of 26 years and 2,500,000 miles of flying. He was the inventor of several navigational aids to airmen, one of them the STARK position finder, an electronic device used by most airlines. His home was Washington.
The other crew members were ROBERT N. CREEKMORE, Arlington, Va., co-pilot, and MARGARET WALL, Washington, stewardess. CREEKMORE was born in Wolfe, Tex. He joined Capital Airlines two years after Army air service in the transport command.
MISS WALL'S childhood home was Gunterville, Ala. She was working for the government in Washington when she joined the airline three years ago.
The spot where the plane crashed is in a spur of the Blue Ridge mountains which rise about 1600 feet above the Shenandoah Valley there. The normal course of the plane on the Chicago-Washington flight was across that section.
FRANKLIN said the plane aparently was directly on course.
It was in the same general area that a plane of the same airline, then known as Pennsylvania Central, crashed and killed 25 persons on Aug. 3, 1940. Senator ERNEST LUNDEEN of Minnesota was one of those killed.
The Capital Airliner took off from Chicago at 1:45 p.m. (est) yesterday on what the line designates as flight 410. It was due in Washington at 6:35 p.m. after stops at Cleveland and Pittsburgh. The place where it crashed is roughly 65 miles from Washington.
When the plane became overdue and it was apparent there had been a mishap, all this section in the heart of the Virginia horse country organized for an emergency.
Ambulances were summoned from Washington and other cities and waited throughout the night.
The ground search was concentrated largely in the area of the crash, due to a report from a mail carrier that he heard the sound of a plane and saw flashes in the sky. In the dark and the rugged country, no trace was found until daylight permitted the air search.
The plane was named Capitaliner Baltimore. It went into commercial service on June 15, 1946, aftger reconversion from military duty.

By Eugene B. Dodson.
Leesburg, Va., June 14 (AP) -- A burned out mass of wreckage -- a dark scar across the green slope of a Blue Ridge mountain -- marks the spot where a huge Capital Airlines plane crashed and burned last night with 50 persons aboard.
I flew over it this morning with E. D. MORRIS, Arlington, Va., pilot.
As we flew by, barely 50 yards away it appeared impossible that any of the 47 passengers or crew of three could have survived.
There was no sign of life in the area.
The charred wreckage of the big, four-engined plane was scattered some 200 yards through a thick second growth of scrub trees. An area that long and some 50 yards wide was burned out.
From the air, only a few pieces of the plane could be seen to have resisted the force of the impact and the holocause that apparently followed.
Toward the center of the dark, rock-sprinkled gash on the mountain side stood a single section of the plane's tail assembly -- a lone sentinel amidst the rubble of ashes and wreckage.
We could make out the letters "ITAL" on one side.
A little farther down the slope, we saw what appeared to be a section of a wing -- pointing to the sky like a collapsed signboard -- and bearing the word "Capital."
In the plane with MORRIS and me was Associated Press photographer HENRY GRIFFIN.
When we took off we did not know the wreckage had been sighted a short time before by JAMES FRANKLIN, maintenance director of Capital Airlines.
We were looking for it without knowledge where it was.
We had circled the cloud-capped mountains for more than an hour before we bumped through a rain-swept valley and rounded a lofty mountain rising to the southwest from the Shenandoah valley.
As we flew along the brow of the mountain at around 1,500 feet, MORRIS shouted and pointed.
"There it is," he said, and swerved the small plane directly toward the crest.
We passed over the scene, watching intently for any movement that might mean some of the 50 aboard had not perished.
There were no signs of life visible to us.
There was nothing but flame-seared wreckage.
The crash scene is roughly 300 yards from the very tip of the mountain, and maps place it just within the West Virgina line. It is directly on the radio beam between Martinsburg, W. Va., and Washington.
"If it had been 100 feet higher," MORRIS estimated, "it probably would have cleared the crest."
Just before we arrived over the spot, the rain slackened and the clouds lifted a little making the crest of the mountain visible.
We flew over the spot five times, GRIFFIN taking pictures and MORRIS and I looking for a trail which might serve to lead ground parties to the scene.
We saw no trail through the thick trees. We estimated it would take three hours, perhaps more, for the ground forces to slash their was through the undergrowth and climb up the rock-studded slope to the wreckage.
The nearest farm house appeared to be at least two miles to the south and east.
Even before we ended our search for road markers, the rain increased, and heavy dark clouds settled down again to shroud the mountain top and the charred remains of the plane and its dead.

Washington, June 14 (AP) -- A list of persons aboard an airliner which crashed in Virginia on a flight from Chicago to Washington, as given out by Capital Airlines and checked at various boarding points:
Boarded at Pittsburgh and headed for Washington:
CECIL L. EATON, 55, Pittsburgh, chief engineer American Associated Consultants.
J. M. McINTOSH, JR., 29, former Navy lieutenant, graduated Pittsburgh University last Wednesday, Pittsburgh.
G. H. McAFFERTY, 2704 Allison street, Mt. Rainier, Md.
MISS MARY J. ALTMAN, Uniontown, Pa.
WILLIAM M. WATSON, 34, Wilkinsburg, Pa., manager of WARREN-EHRET Roofing Co., Philadelphia, home in Gastonia, N. C.
ALBERT J. McCARTHY, 21, Pittsburgh, student in watch-repairing school, and his wife, MRS. ANNA MARIE McCARTHY, also 21.
MR. and MRS. JOHN R. DEWAR, Ambridge, Pa.
P. J. NESS, Washington, D. C.
_______ FOX.
MISS CRAMER, Wooster, Ohio.
MRS. PRICE, Akron, Ohio.
______ TERRY.
C. A. LUDLOW, 407 Kansas street, Pittsburg, Kans.
C. E. PEPPIATT, Philadelphia, eastern division sales manager for 20th Century Fox films.
SAM GROSS, Philadelphia, area division manager for 20th Century Fox.
WALTER D. HODSON, 77, Chicago, president of HODSON Corp., Pittsburgh.
Boarded in Pittsburgh and headed for Norfolk:
MISS MARJORIE SOUTHERLAND, possibly of Norfolk, Va.
MRS. MARY BRYAN and 10-months-old baby, Indianapolis.
MRS. KATHERINE WEBSTER, about 34, Pittsburgh, wife of LOGAN A. WEBSTER, U. S. probation officer.
MISS MARY SAGUN, 33, Norfolk, Va., Navy Yard employe.
Boarded in Cleveland and headed for Washington:
DR. COURTNEY SMITH, Silver Spring, Md., national medical director of the American Red Cross.
_______ GEORGER, Cleveland.
MISS MINNIE HARMAN, Brentwood, Md., a Red Cross worker since 1913.
ALLEN COE, Toledo, Ohio.
I. E. GOLDBERG, Milwaukee, AFL attorney.
Boarded in Cleveland and headed for Norfolk:
EDWARD C. DAOUST, 59, Cleveland attorney and president of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
DR. and MRS. JOSEPH H. MARKO, newlyweds from Cleveland.
MISS MARGARET J. SMOLENY, 43, Cleveland, auditor for the Ohio Sign, Co.
Boarded in Chicago and headed for Washington:
_______ OLERY, Seattle.
MISS D. PETERS, Norfolk, Nebr.
DAVID P. GODWIN, Washington D. C., chief of fire control U. S. Forest Service.
JULIAN KAUFMAN, 30, Chicago.
EDMUND J. STONE, Arlington, Va., Federal Housing Authority employe.
________ GROGHAN.
Boarded in Chicago and headed for Norfolk:
MISS VAIL, Atlantic Court Apartments, Virginia Beach, Va.
SAMUEL SIEGEL, 62, Chicago.
HORACE STARK, Washington, pilot.
R. N. CREEKMORE, Washington, co-pilot.
MARGARET WALLS, Washington, hostess.

The News Frederick Maryland 1947-06-14


Thank you for posting this.

Thank you for posting this. My aunt, Margaret Kueppers died in the crash.

Thanks for finding. Very

Thanks for finding. Very interesting to find my grandfather's sister on this list and then later to find out my grandfather worked around planes.