Hanover, NH Moose Mountain Plane Crash, Oct 1968
10 of 42 Survive Crash Of Plane on N. H. Peak
HANOVER, N. H.-- (AP) - A Northeast Airlines plane carrying 39 passengers and a crew of three crashed in a fog and burned 60 feet from the top of 2,700-foot Moose Mountain near Hanover Friday night. Thirty-two died. Helicopters took the 10 survivors off the mountain.
Northeast said the pilot, Capt. JOHN A RAPSIS, 52, of Nashua, N. H., with the airline 14 years, had made the trip "hundreds of times." He was not among the survivors.
Among the injured were the stewardess, MISS BETTY J. FRAIL, 21, of Berkeley Heights, N. J., and Winthrop, Mass.; ROBERT KIMBALL, 45, assistant dean of Tuck Business School, Dartmouth College, and DR. RICHARD L. VEECH of Oxford, England.
All three were reported in satisfactory condition at Mary Hitchcock Hospital, Hanover.
The hospital said one of the injured, BERNARD DESMOND, JR., of Springfield, Vt., was in critical condition. He suffered head injuries. The rescue helicopters landed in the glare of auto headlights on the campus green at Dartmouth College. Ambulances whisked the injured three blocks to the hospital.
Hanover Police Chief Dennis J. Cooney told newsmen at the hospital that 10 survivors had been brought in "and that's it."
Rescuers who had labored for hours in the rough, rocky terrain, guided at times only by flashlights, suspended work until daybreak.
"There was a terrible crash and the plane burst into flames," said a witness, PARMLY R. WILLS, 39, of Lebanon.
WILLS said he was returning to his car after hunting deer with bow and arrow when he heard the plane overhead.
"I couldn't see it because of the fog above me," he said, "but all at once these bright landing lights started to shine in the fog. They were so close to the mountain then that I knew they were going to hit it .... I never expected there would be any survivors."
The Fairchild-Hiller FH227 propjet left Boston at 4:55 p. m. with 17 passengers for Lebanon, N. H., and 22 for Montpelier, Vt. An hour and a half after the plane's scheduled 5:30 p. m. arrival at Lebanon, Northeast announced it was overdue.
Almost simultaneously, a fire that lit the sky was spotted high on Moose Mountain and fire fighters and volunteers began the tortuous climb.
Hikes to Scene
A fire fighter who said he was one of the first to reach the wreckage, JEAN ST. HILAIRE, 45, said he drove up in a jeep about a mile and a half, then hiked a mile to the scene.
"It was still burning, but there was nothing left of the plane. The front of it was all smashed. The injured were huddled together and a doctor who was a passenger on the plane was trying to help. But he didn't have the equipment he needed. Most of the survivors were in shock."
Another fireman, STEVE MACK, 20, said a male passenger told him he was apparently thrown from the plane in his seat and hurled down the mountain into a tree. MACK did not know the man's name.
"He told me he must have been thrown a good 300 feet down the mountain and found himself hanging upside down in a tree, still in his seat. He said he released his seat belt and dropped to the ground. Fortunately, he was close to the ground and wasn't hurt."
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