Sandspit, BC Airlift Plane Crashes, Jan 1952
KOREAN AIRLIFT PLANE CRASHES.
SEVEN SAVED OFF B.C. -- 43 ON BOARD AS U.S. PLANE DROPS INTO SEA.
Vancouver -- A Korean airlift plane with 43 persons aboard crashed into the sea early today off the Queen Charlotte Islands while trying to make an emergency landing in a snowstorm.
Hours later, only seven survivors had been rescued.
A department of transport official at the scene said it was doubtful whether any more survivors would be found.
The Northwest Airlines DC-4, en route from Tokyo to McChord Field, Wash., carried 40 military passengers and a crew of three.
Plunges Into Sea.
The four-engined aircraft splashed into the sea at 1:38 A.M. P.S.T. while trying for a landing at Sandspit. The plane hit three-quarters of a mile offshore. Screams for help were heard at 3:34 a.m. and small boats sped to the rescue.
They found the seven survivors clinging to the broken wreckage of the plane.
DR. G. E. SINGER of Queen Charlotte City, 11 miles from Sandspit, was the first medical man to reach the survivors. He was accompanied by two nurses.
DR. SINGER said the seven suffered shock and exposure but are in fairly good condition. All suffered minor abrasions and bruises.
The transport department official said from Sandspit:
"The plane is in about 15 feet of water and the tail and wing are visible. The fuselage looks like it's in one piece."
The tug Labouchere and two fish-boats patrolled the area, looking for survivors who might have drifted from the wreck in lifejackets.
The wreckage was first spotted by another plane. It flashed the location to Sandspit, which relayed it to boats in the area.
The U.S. air force said the plane drifted north after the crash, making it impossible for survivors to reach shore unaided.
The R.C.A.F. here said the plane apparently undershot the airfield while trying to make an emergency landing with one engine feathered.
Off For Scene.
An R.C.A.F. plane with a medical officer aboard took off two hours before daylight from Vancouver. It carried a droppable lifeboat and heavy blankets and rations.
Scene of the crash is off Moresby Island, most southerly of the Queen Charlotte group, about 486 miles northwest of Vancouver.
The U.S. coast guard at Seattle said the plane floated for a while but later sank, leaving only one wing and tail section in sight.
All telephone communications with Sandspit were knocked out by a storm two weeks ago and still have not been restored.
A coast guard plane was also en route to the scene from Annette Island in southern Alaska.
An R.C.A.F. spokesman explained that with one engine cut, the plane probably would not have enough power to make another try for the field and that when the crew saw that they would fall short there was no alternative but to belly-land the aircraft in the water.
"You just get one chance," he said. "If you don't make it on the first try, you don't get another chance to go around again and make another stab at it."
Northwest Airlines said all personnel aboard the four-engined DC-4 were outfitted with "Mae Wests" -- lifejackets -- and that the plane also carried two 20-man life rafts and one 10-man raft.
The coast guard said it was advised all seven survivors were rescued by one man in a rowboat. It said the oarsman reported seeing no other survivors but was going back for another look.
Sandspit, as its name implies, sits on a finger of land jutting into Hecate Strait, which lies between the Queen Charlottes and the British Columbia mainland.
It is maintained by the federal department of transport and is used as a regular airfield by civilian airlines operating to and from the Charlottes and northern B.C.
The R.C.A.F. uses it only as an emergency field and recently used it as a refueling point in the search for the lost American freighter Pennsylvania.
A seattle report said that the plane was carrying 40 American soldiers home from the Far East. There were three in the crew.
The coast guard in Seattle said the plane floated for a time but that it later sank, leaving only one wing and the tail section in sight.
The plane, owned by Trans-World Airlines, had been leased to the military air transport service. Northwest furnishes crews for the airlift planes.
The crew members were identified as:
JOHN, PFAFFINGER, 39, Kent, Wash., pilot.
KENNETH KUHN, 36, Seattle, co-pilot.
JANE CHEADLE, Seattle, stewardess.
The Lethbridge Herald Alberta 1952-01-19