Long Island, NY Airplane Crash, Mar 1962
JAMES H. HEIST, pilot, 9 Black Water Road, Rolling Hills, Calif.
MICHAEL BARNA, first officer, 1200 Via Gabriel, Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.
R. J. PECOR, second officer, 658 Gould Lane, Hermosa Beach, Calif.
BETTY MOORE, stewardess, 3604 Alma Street, Los Angeles.
SHIRLEY GARBOW, 2637 Centinella Street, Los Angeles.
LOIS A KELLY, 2110 Fourth Street, Santa Monica, Calif.
ROSALIND STEWART, 6530 San Vincente Boulevard, Los Angeles.
Press-Telegram Long Beach California 1962-03-01
Airliner's Crash Puzzles Experts
Hunt Flight Record
NEW YORK (AP) - Squads of emergency workers struggled in icy waters and biting winds today to recover bodies of Thursday's air crash victims. They also combed the wreckage for an instrument which might reveal what caused the Los Angeles-bound American Airlines jet to plunge to disaster.
By noon, bodies or parts of bodies of 65 of the 95 vivtims[sic] had been taken from the shallow waters of Jamaica Bay. Nobody would venture a guess as to how long the grim task might last.
Other items such as luggage, clothing and women's handbags also were being collected. Men's wallets and even loose paper money were found floating around the site.
The shattered plane's parts were pulled from the bay and trucked to an American Airlines hangar at Idlewild Airport. They will be studied in an effort to pinpoint the cause of the crash.
The instrument desired by air experts is a small, yellow metal globe about the size of a basketball. The device is an automatic flight recorder. It keeps a second-by-second altitude, direction and gravity forces.
By a careful study, investigators might be able to ascertain whether it was man or machine which failed.
At the controls of the giant airliner, which suddenly turned and went down in a nosedive just after taking off, was a veteran skipper of the sky.
At 56, Capt. JAMES T. W. HEIST, of Rolling Hills, Calif., had flown 18,300 hours. Of these, 1,600 hours were spent in the cockpit of a Boeing 707 such as carried him and his passengers to death.
Even President Kennedy took a personal interest in the investigation.
A top government investigator, who conferred with Kennedy by phone, said the President was deeply affected by the tragedy and asked that everything possible be done to prevent a recurrence.
The Boeing 707 jet, specially adapted for speedier takeoffs from airports surrounded by residential areas, exploded less than two minutes after it had taken off from Idlewild.
It was the nation's worst air disaster involving a single aircraft, topping the toll of the crash of a Trans World Airlines Constellation in Chicago last Sept. 1 in which 78 lost their lives. Worst air disaster was a two-plane collision over New York in 1960 that claimed 134 lives.
The 257,000-pound Astro-Jet, nearly half as long as a football field, plunged straight down suddenly and with such sickening fury that the pilot never had a chance to radio that he was in trouble.
There was no flame, no smoke, no trailing exhaust, no outward indication of damage.
It all happened so quickly that friends and relatives of the passengers had not yet had a chance to leave the airport before the plane carrying their loved ones made its disastrous dive only three miles away.
A Mohawk Air Lines plane, bound for upstate New York followed the doomed jet from the runway, and its passengers got s ghastly, bird's-eye view of the tragedy.
The terrific splash made by the big airliner -“ a 200-foot geyser - was the result of the 650-degree-hot engines hitting the icy water at 190 m. p. h.
At that speed, the water was like a brick wall, and the plane disintegrated instantly, scattering its twisted remains over a mile-round area. Pieces of the plane burned and sent up smoke palls.
There was not the slightest indication today why the plane should have crashed in perfect weather, with an unlimited ceiling and visibility of 15 miles.
FAA Administration NAJEEB HALABY, who flew here along with half a dozen air safety specialists from the Civil Aeronautics Board, emphasized there was no indication of what might have gone wrong. Total weight was under the allowable limit, and none of the four jets had been run over the allowable time, HALABY said.
When the plane arrived here from Tulsa, Okla., Wednesday, the crew had reported some trouble with the radio and cabin pressure system, but this was corrected.
HALABY said a checkback on the previous 10 pages in the jet's logbook disclosed no uncorrected defects, and thus far there has been no identification of malfunctioning.
CAB Chairman ALAN S. BOYD, who also flew to the wreck scene, said the mystery might be solved in a month. But he added that it could take as long as a year.
Press-Telegram Long Beach California 1962-03-02