Laramie, WY Plane Crashes In Heavy Snowstorm, Oct 1946


Laramie (Wyo.), Oct. 17 -- (AP) -- The crash of a chartered eastbound passenger plane killed all 10 passengers and the crew of three during a heavy snowstorm three miles west of here early today.
Among the victims were the pilot, CLARENCE ROBERT ABERNATHY, 27, of San Leandro, Calif., and his mother in law, MRS. MARY BOLAND, of Toronto, Canada. MRS. BOLAND was enroute home after visiting her daughter and son in law following the birth of a child to the couple two months ago.
List Of Casualties.
The other dead were identified from an airline passenger list issued in Oakland as:
HARRY HOLLE, San Francisco, co-pilot; DOROTHY HARTMAN, Oakland, stewardess; R. J. PETTIGREW, Elizabeth, N. J.; R. A. GREGOR, Somerville, Mass.; STEVEN A. SMITH, Springfield, Ill.; J. W. TROGDON, Spartanburg, S. C.; A. GUNZA, East Patterson, N. J.; RAY A. BUTLER, Marlboro, Mass.; H. WHIDDEN, Kennett, Mo.; MRS. A. G. THOMPSON, Falls City, Neb,; and JUNE THOMPSON, Falls City.
GREGOR and TROGDON died in a Laramie hospital.
Trying To Land.
The plane was believed to have been coming in for a landing at the Laramie Airport. CAA officials in Cheyenne said weather conditons there were not favorable and the pilot of the ship was not given a regular weather condition report. They said no orders were issued directing him not to continue to Cheyenne.
At midnight the ceiling was down to 100 feet and visibility was a half mile in Cheyenne, where there was a light fog and drizzle. An hour later -- about the time of the crash -- the ceiling had lifted to 400 feet and visibility had increased to a mile and a half, CAA officials said.
The plane, a two-engine DC3 operated by the NATS Air Transport Service, was enroute from Oakland, Calif., to Chicago. It was to have stopped in Cheyenne for refueling and a change of crew. No stop was scheduled in Laramie.
In Oakland, home of the NATS firm, it was explained the line is operated on a charter basis by a group of pilots formerly in the navy. It was not connected with the Navy Air Transport Service.
Crashes Near Airport.
Acting Coroner E. L. KNIGHT of Albany County said the plane was demolished when it plummeted to earth on a level field just north of the airport about 1 A. M. Bodies and wreckage were strewn over an area of 300 square yards.
State Highway Patrolman E. E. PETERS said the plane skidded for 300 yards before the crumpled and twisted fuselage came to a stop. One motor was thrown 30 yards from the fuselage, and another motor and landing wheel 50 yards from the spot where the body of the plane came to rest.
Authorities, headed by KNIGHT, reached the scene of the crash a half hour after in happened. They were notified by an oil field worker who happened to be driving past the airport and heard the crash.
The worker, PAUL FLETCHER, of Chickasha, Okla., said he heard the plane overhead.
"It sounded like it was in trouble," he said, "because the motors seemed to be running irregularly. However, the pilot might have been doing that on purpose."
Circled Over Airport.
He said the plane circled over the airport and he and his companions drove to the port to watch it land in the storm.
"Visibility with my car lights was only about 15 to 20 yards," he said.
The plane, he continued, circled the field and passed overhead going in a northerly direction. The men on the ground still could not see it, however, for the snow."
"A few seconds later we heard a loud crash," FLETCHER said.
The crash brought the total number of deaths from three air tragedies in Wyoming this year to 45.

Fresno Bee Calilfornia 1946-10-17