Boston, MA Jetliner Crashes On Landing, July 1973

Boston MASS site of crash.jpg


Boston -- Federal, state and airline officials continue today to investigate the worst aviation tragedy in Boston's history, all seeking the answer to the same question -- Why?
Eighty-eight persons were killed yesterday when a Delta Airlines DC-9 jet, Flight 723 from Burlington, Vt., undershot the runway, struck a concrete seawall and disintegrated, skidding several hundred feet.
The lone survivor of the crash, LEOPOLD CHOUINARD, 20, of Marshfield, Vt., is in "critical" condition at Massachusetts General Hospital with third degree burns on 85 per cent of his body.
Although investigators have indicated they don't know the exact cause of the crash, they did says the plane, which was making an instrument landing, came down too soon while making a landing approach. Airport officials told The Sun the landing was approximately 3500 feet short of the runway area where it was supposed to touch down.
Meanwhile, Rep. Raymond F. Rourke (D-Lowell) chairman of the House Transportation Committee, has said that he plans to ask his committee to begin an investigation into the crash with emphasis placed on safety regulations at Logan.
One aspect of the crash on which the probe is centering is the reported nine-minute or more delay between the crash and the time Logan officials knew of the crash.
Air traffic officials said a number of things could have gone wrong but a definite cause must await the determination of federal investigators.
Airport officials said radar picks up a plane and guides it in until it reaches a distance of two or three miles from the airport and then the control tower takes over. Officials said the control tower was in contact with the DC-9 until minutes before impact.
Jack Halloran, Massport Information officer, said the plane should have been approximately 200 feet higher that the seawall and at a speed of 110-125 miles per hour at that point in its approach to the runway.
Richard Mooney, director of aviation for the Massachusetts Port Authority, said there were two planes ready to land on the same runway at two-minute intervals behind the Delta flight. Both pilots later signaled the tower that they wished not to land because of the dense fog. Neither of the pilots reported seeing the crash, officials said.
In routine talk with the plane at 11:08 a.m., "There was no word of trouble," said William C. Keepers, the airport's chief traffic controller. "The pilot was issued clearance to land, given runway visual range of 6,000 feet and acknowledged the transmission," said Keepers. "That was the last contact."
Meanwhile, families of the 88 dead filed through a crowded county morgue at Boston City Hospital yesterday and last night and tried to identify the remains. Officials compiled fingerprints and dental records of those burned beyond recognition.
The ill-fated plane left Burlington, Vt., at 9:12 a.m. -- 12 minutes behind schedule. It made an unscheduled stop in Manchester, N. H., to pick up passengers stranded there when another flight to New York was cancelled because of fog.
As the plane taxied out at Manchester, the pilot announced that takeoff would be delayed for about 45 minutes, and one passenger demanded to get off when he realized he wouldn't make a business appointment on time. The pilot turned the plane around and the passenger -- CHARLES R. MEALY -- got off.
Four of the victims of the crash were headed for New York to escort a busload of "fresh air program" children to Derry and Nashua, N. H.

Boston -- The Logan Airport fire station garage was turned into a makeshift mortuary.
"They just laid the bodies on the floor and lined them up," said a construction worker. "They're all burned."
Two miles away, and still shrouded in fog, was the wreckage of a Delta Airlines DC-9.
A steady stream of emergency vehicles came to and from the crash site. Each vehicle was carrying a body.
A white-robed ambulance attendant, his smock stained with blood and ash, refused comment as he was questioned by newsmen. He was leaving the body-littered station.
Appearing quite shaken and pale, the red-haired intern quickly disappeared into a section of the station cordoned off from the press.
Two priests, recently returned from the crash scene, stood together. Minutes later they fielded questions from reporters in a grim, methodical fashion.
"When I arrived here, I was taken to the crash scene, and there were bodies strewn all over the field. I pray for them," said one of the priests.
A fireman, his face covered with perspiration, looked at the crash scene. He said when he arrived there he saw victims still strapped in their seats. One man, he said, had no legs.
The smell of death lingered in the area. A lone state trooper walked slowly through the small piles of debris that remained.
Colorful red, white and blue seats were helter-skelter on runway 4R, blackened and crushed.
Small huddles of officials moved slowly about the crash site. Each group took turns answering questions, though not having any more knowledge than many of the reporters who had been at the scene since the crash.
All that remained was a 10-foot fragment of the fuselage. The pale yellow of the plane's interior was in sharp contrast to the black pile of ashes from which the section protruded.
The front wheels of the plane, charred and misshapen, were thrown approximately 300 yards from the tail section of the plane.
Amid mass confusioni in the media room, Arnold Koch, a representative of Massport, tried to keep newsmen informed on new developments. Meanwhile, speculation ran rampant as to the number dead. But there was no question about the bodies in the fire station.
Heavy fog covered the airport when the plane crashed. "It was zero visibility," one fireman said. Still, the fog was not thick enough to close one of the nation's busiest air terminals.
Visibility was a half-mile and there was a 400-foot ceiling. Minimum conditions at Logan call for a 200-foot ceiling and a half-mile visibility.
The airport was closed from 6 a.m. until 7:30 a.m. It was reopened when officials decided that the fog had lifted substantially.
Nobody is really sure what happened. All the facts will have to be pieced together and a report will be issued.
A chunk of seawall at the end of the runway at the edge of Boston Harbor is missing apparently struck by the jet. The plane apparently skidded along the runway, spewing bodies and debris.
"It was horrible," said John F. Halloran, Massport public relations director.
Yesterday's crash was the first fatal one in the history of Delta Airlines. Delta has been operation since 1932 and recently merged with Northeast Airlines.
It was several minutes before the Logan control tower knew of the crash. Officials said it was because of the fog.
A tired and solemn faced deputy fire chief, one of the first to arrive at the crash scene, told The Sun. "We couldn't see anything. Visibility was zero."
He added, "Bodies were everywhere. When we were 50 yards from the crash site we saw fire. The fuselage was gone, disintegrated. Everything was cracked open."
Minutes after the crash the airport was closed. Three hours later, after the confusion had subsided, the roar of an outbound 727 jetliner was heard, breaking the deathly silence which had permeated the area.

Atlanta (UPI) -- Delta Air Lines announced Tuesday night a list of all passengers aboard Flight 723, which crashed in Boston. Delta noted that the list was compiled from ticket information, not upon positive identification of bodies.
The dead inlcuded:
BAKER, MRS. MARIAN, St. Albans, Vt.
BARNETT, MR. R., No address available.
BEAN, FRANCIS S., No address available.
BERGERON, JANE, Manchester, N. H.
BERGERON, WILLIAM, Manchester, N. H.
BOYLE, MS. No address available.
BRAU, CHARLES, Garden City, L. I., New York.
BROWN, ROSS, Louisville, Ky.
BYRUM, CHARLES, Richmond, Va.
CAMERON, DAVID K., Burlington, Vt.
CARPENTIERE, WINSTON, No address available.
CARY, MRS. ADELINE, No address available.
CUMMINGS, MR. R., Boston, Mass.
DARCY, G. MINOT, Cannan, Conn.
DE SCHMERIZING, ILONA, No address available.
DAVENPORT, MR. HERBERT, No address available.
FLEURY, MRS. PATRICIA, Burlington, Vt.
FRAWLEY, SHEILA AGNES, 14, Los Angeles, Calif.
FULLER, MR. JOSEPH, Londonderry, N. H.
FULLER, MRS. JOSEPH, Londonderry, N. H.
GOSSELIN, MRS. MARY, Winooski, Vt.
HALELSIG, MRS. JEAN, Clearwater, Fla.
HALELSIG, MR. KENNETH, Clearwater, Fla.
HALL, CLARENCE R., Bradford, N. H.
HANNA, MR. RICHARD D., Shelbourne, Vt.
HOAG, MRS. M., Grand Isle, Vt.
HUBBELL, MR. C., Burlington, Vt.
JACKSON, MERIAN, Manchester, N. H.
KAPOPOULOS, MRS. ORA S., No address available.
KESTER, MR. JOHN G., Stamford, Conn.
KOTEFF, JAY, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
KOTEFF, TRACY, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
KNAPP, MR. D., No address available.
LAFONTAINE, MR. GEORGE, Enosberg Falls, Vt.
LEY, ALEX, New York City.
LYNN, MS. PAMELA, No address available.
MacARTHUR, MR. R., Manchester, N. H.
McMAHON, MR. ROBERT F., Norwell, Mass.
MEEHAN, MR. H., No address available.
MEEHAN, MR. M., No address available.
METZ, LIZA, Essex Junction, Vt.
METZ, MR. ROBERT, Essex Junction, Vt.
MOLIN, JEAN, No address available.
MOLIN, WILBUR, No address available.
MORAN, MR. ROBERT, No address available.
MORAN, MRS. ROBERT, No address available.
PATUNOFF, YVETTE, C., Shelbourne, Vt.
PAULL, WILLIS, Sheridan, Mt.
PENNEY, ALFRED, Newport, Vt.
PROVOST, M., No address available.
RACE, MRS. SHIRLEY, Winooski, Vt.
RACE, JR., SCOTT, Winooski, Vt.
RICHARDS, NORMAN, New Hampshire.
RUANE, JOHN J., Hudson, N. H.
SMITH, JILL A., Boca Raton, Fl.
SMITH, MARION L., Burlington, Vt.
SMOTH, MRS. JUDITH, Manchester, Vt.
SWIFT, LILA, No address available.
THOMPSON, ROBERT, Essex Junction, Vt.
VINCENT, BETTE J., No address available.
WARREN, MS. LOUDE, No address available.
WATTS, MS. SANDRA, No address available.
WIGGIN, JR., CHESTER, Contoocook, N. H.
Capt. JOHN N. STREIL, JR., Lynnfield, Mass.
First Officer SIDNEY WHITE BURRILL, Winthrop, Mass.
JOSEPH E. BURRELL, Delta crewman on board.
ANNA LEE MOORE, Houston, Stewardess.
JANICE LEA WILSON, Houston, Stewardess.
LEOPOLD CHOUINARD, 20, Marshfield, Vt.

Lowell Sun Massachusetts 1973-08-01


Remembering Our Family

Hi, Brad and Perry were my first cousins, the sons of Bob Meeham and Marla Barnett [Meeham]. Brad was about 13 y.o. and Perry about 11 y.o. at the time they passed away (is that right?). I think Rose was Marla's mother (the maternal grandmother). My Aunt Lillian Simpson Meeham Darling was Bobby's mother (the paternal grandmother) and was living in Groton, VT at the time. She was my mother Pauline Simpson Palermo's oldest sister, so Bob was my cousin. The Simpson family had lived in Cabot, VT. Lillian really liked and enjoyed her friendship with Rose. She cherished her grandsons Brad and Perry and was already heartbroken that she didn't get to see them (or her son Bob) very often because Bob was in the service and based so far away. At the time of the accident, I was 21 y.o. and was on a several week long road trip from Vermont to California. My family didn't want to tell me about it until they could talk to me in person. It was the first time I had ever seen my Aunt Lil cry. She never recovered from the loss of Brad and Perry, and Rose and Michael. It was an emotional trauma that changed her life in a very fundamental way. It is with great sadness that I share this same loss with you all these many years later. I moved to Los Angeles where I lived for almost 30 years and whenever I was back in Vermont, we would so often visit the cemetery where they are buried. We noticed that previous visitor(s) would leave small pebbles on the edge of their stone.

My grandfather

My grandfather Lawrence Hartigan perished on this fateful day. I was born in 1982 so I never had the honor to meet him but have heard many wonderful stories. My family does not like to talk about this day and who can blame them. R.I.P. grandpa

I was 14 years old and lost

I was 14 years old and lost my friend and classmate Michael Provost,who perished along with his grandmother,and 11 and 13 year old cousins.I am from East Montpelier,By and the only survivor Sergeant Chouinard was from the next town over.I had so hoped he would survive.I will never forget that tragic day,and I still visit Mike,his cousins,and his grandmother's graves.May they all rest in peace,and their memory forever live on.

I am so sorry

Did Michael have a sister Cindy? She was babysitting my brother and I that day and it was all over the news. We could not believe it. Everyone was crying and my mom took her home. So sad I never saw or heard from Cindy again. Losing so many relatives in one day is something I can't comprehend. I have always remembered.

Cindy Provost

I remember that day as one of the worst of my life. I was only 12 and I believe my babysitter lost her brother that day Michael Provost, her grandmother, and two cousins. It was all over the news and she was babysitting my brother and I that day. My mother brought her home and I never saw her or heard from her again. I lived in East Montpelier, Vermont. Many years have gone by and I still remember.Such a tragedy.

Hi Cory. I just wanted to

Hi Cory. I just wanted to say hello. My mother who is your grandmothers niece was just telling me the story about your grandmother and grandfather. which brought me to this article. My grandfather was John Crowley. I just happened to catch your comment. email if you would want. John McMorrow.

My mother Bette is on this

My mother Bette is on this list. She died in this crash when I was 20 years old. I was named after her. So strange to see the list of all the names. Saddest day of my life.

Liza metz was my aunt and

Liza metz was my aunt and her father my grandfather. I never was able to meet either of them, they passed before I was born. I saw your post and had to respond to your kind words of my aunt I never was able to meet. Thank you.


My father was supposed to be on that flight. He had just come back from a business trip from NYC with his boss and they were going to fly out again to Boston in a couple days. But his boss said my dad should stay and handle things at the office instead of going to Boston. My dad was happy not to have to travel again. The night before the flight we all packed into the car and went out to dinner for a ride and upon returning we turned onto our street and my dad saw his boss's car in our driveway. Fearing his boss changed his mind and wanting my dad to go to Boston he drive around the block a few times until he was gone. The next day he heard the news that the plane crashed.

I too remember this tragedy.

I too remember this tragedy. I too heard it as I lived in Revere. I am 70 now and Leopold Chouinard still enters my thoughts sometimes. I even sent him a card in the hospital with a message of hope. My son was 5 months old and he is now 40. I don't know why Mr Chouinard stays in my thoughts but he does.