Kenner, LA Jet Crash Kills Over 150, July 1982

KENNER LA Plane crash 1982


Kenner, La. (AP) -- A Pan American World Airways jetliner bulldozed into suburban homes just minutes after taking off from New Orleans International Airport in a thunderstorm Friday, killing all 145 people aboard and at least four on the ground, officials said.
It was the second-worst air disaster in U. S. history.
The three-engine Boeing 727 plowed through two blocks of houses, and workers labored into the night in search of additional victims. Eight people on the ground were injured, two critically, a hospital reported.
A witness, BOB LEDET, said it appeared the plane was hit by lightening.
GEORGE BURLAGE, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration's Southwestern regional headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, said there were no survivors aboard Pan Am Flight 759 from New Orleans to Las Vegas.
Pan Am spokesman MARLE RICHMAN initially reported 136 passengers and a crew of seven aboard the plane. However, airline spokeswoman ANN WHYTE later reported an infant and a Pan Am employee riding in a jumpseat in the cockpit brought the total aboard to 145.
BURLAGE said inspectors at the scene had counted 149 bodies.
At least three people died in houses struck by the plane, said DR. GEORGE BODRON of the Jefferson Parish coroner's office.
He said the body count was hampered by the severity of the crash and the difficulty of telling whether the dead had been aboard the plane or in houses.
"They're still picking up pieces and parts of bodies -- legs, feet, torsos without limbs," BODRON said.
Flight 759 originated in Miami and was to go to San Diego from Las Vegas, said STEVEN MOORE with the Travelers Emergency Services System in Boston.
In Miami, Pan Am officials identified the crew:
Capt. KENNETH McCULLERS, Sebastian, Fla.
First Officer DONALD PIERCE, Miami Lakes, Fla.
Flight Engineer LEO NOONE, Miami.
Pursur DENNIS DONNELLY, Fort Lauderdale.
Flight Attendant JAMES FIJUT, Miramar, Fla.
Flight Attendant LUCILLE BROWN, Hollywood, Fla.
Flight Attendant VIVIAN FORD, West Hollywood, Fla.
At least eight houses in the area were damaged by debris, and fire officials said several were set ablaze. LOU REESE, deputy director of Orleans Parish Civil Defense, said the fires were under control about two hours after the crash, and rescue workers were looking for any victims in the homes.
Rescue workers used portable floodlights tp search for bodies into the night, while utility workers labored to restore power and phone service in the area.
The search effort was called off about 10 p.m. CDT, after 80 bodies had been recovered. The effort was to resume at 7 or 8 a.m. Saturday.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff HARRY LEEN said workers found it too dark to identify remains mixed in the rubble.
About 100 people whose homes were destroyed or who owere evacuated from the area were housed for the night in two nearby hotels.
"We do not know the number of casualties there might be on the ground," said AL SELLA, director of fine and emergency services for Jefferson Parrish.
"It was like a big vacuum cleaner went through," said VICTOR DEAN, a Pan Am employee who lives six houses from the point where the Boeing 727 hit.
Kenner Mayor AARON BROUSSARD appealed to doctors with experience in treating burns to come to the crash scene.
A Delta Air Lines hangar at New Orleans International Airport was being used as a morgue.
In Washington, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman FRED FARRAR said the plane went down about 2 miles from the New Orleans airport about 2 minutes after takeoff.
Associated Press reporter KEVIN NOBLET said sections of the aircraft were scattered over a seven-block area, with a 40-foot section of the fuselage resting atop a destroyed home. Part of the fuselage also came to rest on top of a station wagon.
It was raining at the time of the crash, and a heavy thunderstorm was passing over the area. The airport is located in Kenner, a New Orleans suburb.
The plane crashed at 4:10 p.m. CDT, according to CAROL FEDERICO, who lives in the crash area.
Residents were asked to open garages for temparary storage of bodies, said witness NORMAND "ROCK" SHEEREN.
"As soon as it went down my son-in-law ran down there .. it burst into flames and people were screaming and everything else. It was unbearable, the way they were screaming."
Authorities cordoned off several blocks around the scene, and were evacuating homes and pushing back spectators. They said they were concerned that tanks of liquid fuel from the plane might explode.
Smoke was still thick around the fuselage of the plane nearly 90 minutes after the crash. Twisted plane parts, chairs and telephone poles were scattered over the crash site.
The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched its on-duty "go" team to investigate the crash.
"It sounded like a tornado going over and my dishes fell down," said MRS. FAY MEYER, who lives a block from the crash scene. "It clipped off part of my palm tree."
The Boeing 727, introduced in 1964, is the most widely used commercial airliner in the world. More than 1,700 are in service.
In May 1979, an American Airlines DC-10 crashed at Chicago's O'Hare airport, killing 273 people, in the nation's worst air disaster.

Kenner, La. (AP) -- LARRY WINN was in his backyard with his four children Friday when he looked up into the rain and saw the Pan American World Airways jetliner clip some trees.
"It looked like he was going to land and then it sounded like he was trying to get altitude," said WINN.
Flight 759 from New Orleans to Las Vegas never gained altitude. It barreled and bounced into at least eight homes. Its fuselage broke into metal missiles that were flung into other homes and onto lawans like a washing machine spewing out water on rinse.
Federal Aviation Administration Officials said all 136 passengers and sever crew members aboard the Boeing 727 were killed.
"It was like a big vacuum cleaner went through," said VICTOR DEAN, a Pan Am employee who lives six houses from the point where the jet hit.
DEAN said the impact demolished a neighbor's house, "and it doesn't look as if there was ever a house there." He said the owner had used his telephone and reported his wife and three young children had been inside.
Kenner, located 15 miles west from the heart of New Orleans, is the state's sixth largest city, and one of the most affluent suburban areas. The plane came down in the southeast section of the city, an area known as Morningside Park.
The plane left a black path about 100 to 150 feet wide and three blocks long.
"As soon as it went down my son in law ran down there .. it burst into flames and people were screaming and everything else. It was unbearable, the way they were screaming," said witness NORMAND "ROCK" SHEEREN.
"When the plane come over, I was standing right in the back door and it hit my tree. Then it hit the wires, big calbes on top of the electrical wires and then she came nose right on down into the next street," said SHEEREN.
JOSEPH PACE, 58, said his wife and two children were in their house when a 40-foot part of the plane landed atop of it.
"My wife jumped the back fence and got the two girls out," he said. "My bricks are lying over a two-block area. I got insurance. Somebody else better have."

Kenner, La. (AP) -- An 18-month-old child was found alive near her home under the debris from the Pan American World Airways jetliner that crashed in this suburban community Friday.
MELISSA TRAHAN suffered burns on her feet, according to PATTY NICKELL, a spokeswoman at the East Jefferson hospital.
The child's father, GABE TRAHAN, was reached by telephone at the hospital, and said he was happy his daughter was alive. He said his wife, MELANIE, and a 4-year-old daughter, BRIDGET, were killed by the crash.
The Boeing 727 crashed in a thunderstorm shortly after takeoff from New Orleans International Airport, killing all 136 passengers and a crew of seven.
Officials said at least three people were killed on the ground when the jet plowed into homes of this community 15 miles west of downtown New Orleans.
"Somebody said, 'Hey, we got a survivor,'" said civil defense worker MARK LARKIN. "I turned around and looked, and they were carrying a little baby girl .. from under a pile of rubble. She seemed to be OK. I think everybody was convinced at that point that we wouldn't find anyone alive. It was a really good feeling."

Chillicothe Constitution Tribune Missouri 1982-07-10


New York (UPI) -- Following is a list of victims of the crash of Pan American World Airways Flight 759 in Kenner, La., as released by the airline. Passengers' hometowns were not immediately available.
KENNETH L. McCULLERS, 45, captain, Sebastian, Fla.
DONALD G. PIERCE, 32, first officer, Miami Lakes, Fla.
LEO B. NOONE, 60, flight engineer, Miami, Fla.
DENNIS M. DONNELLY, 30, purser, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
JAMES P. FIJUT, 37, steward, Miramar, Fla.
LUCILLE V. BROWN, 35, stewardess, Hollywood, Fla.
VIVIAN L. FORD, 34, stewardess, West Hollywood, Fla.
J. AGUIAR, Montevideo, Uruguay.
J. AGUILAR, Mexico City.
F. ALEJANDRO, Mexico City.
D. ALLAN, Miami area.
D. ALLAN, Miami area.
F. ALVARADO, Barqusiteno, Venezuela.
G. BARLOW, Randolph AFB, San Antonio, Texas.
G. BARLOW, Randolph AFB, San Antonio, Texas.
A. BARQUE, Miami area.
N. BARQUE, Miami area.
C. BONNICK, Connecticut.
BOURGEOIS (no first initial available), Paris, France.
BOURGEOIS (no first initial available), Paris, France.
BOURGEOIS (no first initial available), Paris, France.
BOURGEOIS (no first initial available), Paris, France.
A. BRUN, Montevideo, Uruguay.
S. BRUN, Montevideo, Uruguay.
H. BRYAN, Kingston, Jamaica.
BULAJIC (no first initial available).
BLUAJIC (no first initial available).
CASEY (no first initial available), New Orleans.
CASEY (no first initial available), New Orleans.
A. CORREGE, Montevideo, Uruguay.
CUNNINGS (no first initial available).
CUNNINGS (no first initial available).
DARRA (no first initial available).
J. DELORME, Lausarne, Switzerland.
S. DELORME, Lausarne, Switzerland.
A. DELORME, Lausarne, Switzerland.
C. DELORME, Lausarne, Switzerland.
DEVAUX (no first initial available).
E. DIXON, Miami.
T. DOLLOR, Los Angeles.
A. DUPRE, Houma, La.
A. DUPRE, Houma, La.
W. EDMONDS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
EDMONDS (no first initial available), Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
EYMARD (no first initial available), Grayston, La.
EYMARD (no first initial available), Grayston, La.
FITZGERALD (no first initial available), New Orleans.
FITZGERALD (no first initial available), New Orelans.
S. FU, Hong Kong.
K. FU, Hong Kong.
K. FU, Hong Kong.
B. GOERS, Adelaide, Australia.
M. GOERS, Adelaide, Australia.
GONZALEZ (no first initial available), Houma, La.
GONZALEZ (no first initial available), Houma, La.
W. GOUDEAU, New Orleans.
W. GOUDEAU, New Orleans.
P. GREENWOOD, New Orleans.
L. GREENWOOD, New Orleans.
J. GREENWOOD, New Orleans.
E. GUIDROZE, Marreo, La.
M. HALEY, Munson, Mass.
HANSEN (no first initial available), Las Vegas.
HARBICH (no first initial available), Brazil.
HARBICH (no first initial available), Brazil.
HARTFORD (no first initial available).
HARTFORD (no first initial available).
HARTFORD (no first initial available).
E. HOLLINS, Mississippi.
HOOD (no first initial available), New Orleans area.
J. IVERSTINE, Hammond, La.
K. IVERSTINE, Hammond, La.
E. JEFFERS, New Orleans.
C. JOHNSON, San Diego, Calif.
N. KALM, Miami.
KELLY (no first initial available).
K. KONDO, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
KRAHMAN (infant).
L. LEDET, Houma, La.
L. LEDET, Houma, La.
LEWIS (no first initial available), La Mesa, Calif.
Y. LI.
LINARES (no first initial available), Mexico City.
L. ZERWELL (previously given as P. LIVIDAS).
E. MARKS, JR., New Orleans.
MARKS (no first initial available), New Orleans.
B. MATHEWS, Escondido, Calif.
MILLAFDOR (no first initial available), New Orleans.
MILLAFDOR (no first initial available), New Orleans.
MOREIRA (no first initial available), Porto Alegre, Brazil.
MOREIRA (no first initial available), Porto Alegre, Brazil.
NAEGELE (no first initial available).
NARGOET (no first initial available).
D. NEIHEUS, Escondido, Calif.
PEKER (no first initial available).
PEKER (no first initial available).
PEKER (no first initial available).
R. PELLEBON, New Orleans.
S. POWELL, Niceville, Fla.
R. PURCELL, Dallas, Texas.
M. ROMERO, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
SAVOLE (no first initial available).
SCHIEFELDEIN (no first initial available).
SCHIEFELDEIN (no first initial available).
F. SHAPIRO, N. Miami Beach.
TRIVELLON (no first initial available), Montevideo, Uruguay.
TRIVELLON (no first initial available), Montevideo, Uruguay.
A. VANOLI, Montevideo, Uruguay.
N. VANOLI, Montevideo, Uruguay.

Chronicle Telegram Elyria Ohio 1982-07-10


Ray Phillips

Ray was the NOAA Marine Mammal Observer aboard MV "Sea Encounter" based in San Diego at the time of this accident. I was the helo mechanic on that ship, and Ray shared my maintenance room to conduct necropsies of porpoise "by-catch." Ironically, Ray had given up his seat on an earlier flight to allow another employee to get to San Diego in time to catch his ship. he was like that. Ray was a colleague and a friend, and he will be forever missed.

Dan Dotson

Thanks for the update on Dan. I remember you leaving to do that and how our emotions were pretty raw at the time. I posted my story for him too. Would like to hear from you. Please contact

Hope to hear from you soon.


Erin Ernst died that day as well with 1 other friend (I cannot remember now). The 3 were taking a graduation trip together. Very sad.

victim's list

The victim's list has an error. G Barlow is Tsgt Glenn T. Barlow, USAF. The second G Barlow listed is actually his wife, Shirley Barlow. They were on the same flight, traveling back from Florida to Las Vegas where Tsgt Barlow was stationed. I know these facts because Tsgt Barlow was my direct report supervisor at the time of the accident. We were stationed together at Nellis AFB, Las Vegas, Nevada in the 554 Range Group.

Ray Phillips

I was a fellow employee and worked with Ray at NOAA. We were hired at the same time and went through the training program together. I remember being very sorry when I received the news that this had happened and that was 34 years ago. He was a genuinely great guy who was always in a good mood. With a simple twist of fate it could have easily been me, as Ray and I travelled the same route to catch the tuna seiners in Panama. RIP Ray.

I dated Maylene while she

I dated Maylene while she attended BG HS and was very sad to hear, sweet sweet girl. RIP

Ray Phillips

"R. Phillips" was Ray Phillips, an employee of NOAA, working as a monitor to the American Tuna fleet, returning to San Diego after a short layover. Mr. Phillips was a kind and gentle soul, who had given up his seat on an earlier flight so that another might make a connection. Mr. Phillips was a Marine Mammal Protection Act monitor aboard "Sea Encounter," based in San Diego. I was member of the crew, and a friend of Ray. He is missed to this day.

Dan Dotson

Dan Dotson and I join the Air Force on October 1, 1980. We were both stationed at Homestead AFB, Florida. He was on his way home on vacation to San Mateo, Ca. To get married, but because of the crash he never made it. His Mother. Sharon Lopez and Girlfriend asked the Air Force if I could fly to Kenner, La. and accompany his casket home. The Air Force said yes. So I flew in to La. and out to San Francisco, Ca. And drove to San Mateo. It was a very sad time for everyone. He was my best friend. He also was a huge beatles fan who had a great voice. We both planned on getting out of the Air Force and continuing our lives in California. I will always miss him.

trying to research a victim killed on the ground

First name Jennifer or Jessica. Kenner resident adolescent female. Any information or picture would be appreciated. Thanks.

Susan Savoie

The passenger listed as SAVOLE was Susan Savoie of Cut Off, Louisiana, a very beautiful woman. She was my cousin.