Des Moines, IA Woman Aviatrix Plane Crash, Feb 1962


Des Moines, Iowa -- (AP) -- A small plane faltered and crashed in a snow-crusted cornfield south of the Des Moines Municipal Airport Sunday, killing a veteran of four "Powder Puff" derby women's air races and injuring three companions.
The Polk County sheriff's office said MRS. ALICE PFANTZ, 45, of Des Moines, a flier since 1956, was dead on arrival at Iowa Methodist Hospital.
Reported in critical condition were:
MRS. MARILYN R. WILLIAMS, 38, of Des Moines, the pilot; MRS. ELIZABETH UTSLER, 39, of Indianola, Iowa; and MRS. CLEO BRAUGHT, 40, of Des Moines.
The three women suffered extensive head and facial lacerations, requiring surgery.
MRS. WILLIAMS was MRS. PFANTZ' co-pilot in last year's All Women's International Air Race from Fort Myers, Fla., to the Bahamas. They finished fifth in the 625-mile race.
Authorities were told the Beechcraft Bonanza developed engine trouble shortly after taking off from the airport en route to Newton, Iowa, where the women were to attend a flying club meeting.
Apparently unable to make it back, MRS. WILLIAMS headed for an open field on the MILDRED LOWE farm 1 1/2 miles south of the airport.
Witnesses said the single engine craft wavered, then came down in a belly landing. The plane bounced two or three times, then tipped forward, smashing the propeller. The women apparently were thrown against the instrument panel.
Two Air Force reservists, Robert Dady of Des Moines and Leroy Mauder of Ames, Iowa, said the plane appeared to lose power.
E. L. Fahrman of the general district office of the Federal Aviation Agency, said, "It's only speculation up to now about the cause of the crash" pending an investigation.
Two National Guard ambulances took the women to Iowa Methodist Hospital.
MRS. PFANTZ competed in the 1961 Powder Puff derby, a 2,709 mile test of pilot skills from San Diego, Calif., to Atlantic City, N.J.
She was the mother of two children, WILLIAM, 21, of Indianapolis; and RENEE, 15, who lives at home. MRS. PFANTZ' husband, GEORGE, operates a grocery chain.
MRS. PFANTZ, a tall woman, had logged more than 1,700 hours in the air.
She had planned to compete in the 1962 Powder Puff derby in July. MRS. PFANTZ, an instructor at the Des Moines Flying Service, held private and commercial pilot licenses, with multi-engine rating.
MRS. WILLIAMS' husband, FRANK, operates a home construction supply company in Des Moines. The plane was registered to the firm in WILLIAMS' name.

Charleston Gazette West Virginia 1962-02-12