Miami, FL Plane Crashes Into Marsh On Takeoff, Mar 1958
9 PERSONS PERISH IN MIAMI PLANE CRASH.
15 SURVIVE, BUT MANY OF THEM ARE BADLY INJURED.
BRANIFF AIRLINES PLANE CRASHES INTO MUD AND WATER WITH TERIFFIC EXPLOSION MOMENTS AFTER ITS TAKEOFF FOR PANAMA.
Miami, Fla. (AP) -- A Braniff Airlines plane crashed moments after its takeoff for Panama early today with a mighty explosion visible for miles.
Nine were killed and 15 survived, many of them badly injured.
The four-engine DC7C had been airborne less than a minute before watchers on the ground saw fire spurt from an engine.
A night watchman on duty at a city dump near the swampy scene of the crash saw the plane go down "like a rock." It fell 4 1/2 miles north of Miami International Airport.
The dead, dying and injured lay in the wreckage or in ankle-deep mud and water. Rescuers had to push their way through dense brush which kept firetrucks and ambulances away from the scene.
Helicopters were used to carry the injured to a hospital, where a parking lot was pressed into service as a landing port.
The big plane, which would have gone to Lima, San Paulo and Rid De Janiero from Panama, broke cleanly in two. The engines and gas tanks landed about 50 yards from the rear section of the fuselage.
Flames still were roaring into the sky hours after the crash. Traffic was backed up for miles leading to the area.
R. H. SANDS, to dump watchman who summoned help but was prevented by the sawgrass and underbrush from forcing his way to the scene himself, said it was about 20 minutes before rescue crews arrived.
"Those were the longest 20 minutes I ever spent," he said. "I could hear the passengers yelling for help and there was nothing I could do."
RAY STOLZ, a Miami Springs policeman who was among the first to reach the wreckage, said victims could be seen "like bundles on the ground. I heard them yelling."
"The flames weren't as bad as they got later but it was something fierce -- the heat."
"I carried one man out to the road and then I came back and called for the survivors. They heard me and yelled, 'Please help us. We're hurt bad.'"
PETE VIGNA, 57, Civil Aeronautics Administration official returning to his job in Columbia, suffered only a cut ear.
"The plane was running good until it hit about 1,500 feet," VIGNA said. "All of a sudden, the engine next to the fuselage on the right sputtered fire."
"The next thing I knew, the world had fallen out beneath me. I found myself tumbling inside the plane, falling every which way."
The flight which organized here was 24 hours behind schedule, when it took off at 12:04 a.m. EST. It was one of a fleet of DC7Cs which Braniff put into service last year.
The plane originally scheduled to make the trip broke down in Panama and the ill-fated substitute was ferried in from Dallas, the airline's headquarters.
The last serious Braniff accident came July 18, 1955, when one of its planes en route from Dallas crashed at Chicago with 22 fatalities.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration declined to say whether the pilot of the Panama bound plane had sent out a distress message before the crash.
Braniff said all the crew members survived but three standby pilots for the long trip were killed.
The dead pilots were identified by Braniff headquarters as Capts. ROYAL KING of Coral Gables, Fla.; DAVID F. LEAKE of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and GEORGE HOGAN of Dallas, Tex.
Survivors included plane Captain THOMAS DONALD GEORGE of Coral Gables; 1st Officer JOHN COOPER WINTHROP, JR. of South Miami; 2nd Officer CHARLES FRANK FINK of Hialeah, Fla.; purser ALBERTO ZAPETERO of Lima, Peru; and, hostess MADELINE CAPION of Lima, Peru.
Fort Pierce News-Tribune Florida 1958-03-25