New York, NY Plane Crashes On Landing, Dec 1954



New York, Dec. 18. -- (AP) -- A big Italian Airlines plane rammed into a pier, burst into flames and hurtled into the waters of Jamaica Bay at Idlewild Airport today after making four desperate attempts to land in mist and rain. Twenty-six of the 32 persons aboard were feared lost.
There were only six known survivors four of them Americans.
Hours after the crash, which occurred at 2 p. m., only eight bodies had been recovered.
Rescue crews grappled through the fog and darkness for 18 others.
Most of the passengers on the DC6B, one of the largest planes in civilian aviation service, were Italians or persons of Italian descent.
Many were coming home for the Christmas holidays.
The four-engined ship, carrying 22 passengers and a crew of 10, crashed into the end of the 2,000-foot pier, sheared off a section of the plane and then slammed broadside into the structure.
The plane, which was attempting to land on instruments, broke apart on hitting the pier and then plummeted into the waters of Jamaica Bay.
The pier juts out into the water with lights to guide aircraft onto runways on the field, one of the largest in the world.
Idlewild Airport is located on Long Island, about 13 miles from midtown New York. Jamaica Bay, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, borders the field.
The plane disembarked nine passengers at Boston at 10 a. m.
It reached Idlewild shortly after noon and hovered about in the rain and overcast, attempting to land.
The pilot missed three approaches. On the third he was cautioned by radar that he was below the proper glide path.
What happened thereafter was uncertain.
The Civil Aeronautics Division at Idlewild said:
"Radar again advised the pilot of his position below the glide path and advised him to pull up and execute a missed approach procedure unless he had the runway in sight."
"The aircraft was observed to increase altitude, then dive into the approach light pier in Jamaica Bay."
One of the Americans who survived the crash, HECTOR GIANCARLO, 23, of 249 N. 15th St., Bloomfield, N. J., climbed out of a broken section of the plane's tail and pulled himself to safety on the pier.
"The steward said there was low visibility," he said. "They made three attempts to land and we could see the runs each time. We saw landing lights on the runs."
"On the fourth attempt we were coming down. We were close to the ground. I saw water marshes. The pilot appeared to raise the plane. I heard a solid thud. Everything spun around. The next thing we settled slowly. Water started to rush in.
GIANCARLO said he told his seatmate, GEORGE VARILLI, "Let's get the hell out" after they found their section was sheared off from the rest of the plane.
"I climbed out and swam to the pier," GIANCARLO said. "I swam about 25 feet.
VARILLI, a fifth-year medical student at the University of Padua, Italy, lives at Mamaroneck, N. Y. He climbed out with GIANCARLO and reached safety on the pier. Neither was injured.
The other survivors were; FRANK A. MESSINA, 40, of 147 Sanford Blvd., Mt. Vernon, N. Y.; GIUSEPPI PALMIERI, 61 of 327 W. 27th St., New York City; VINCENZO BERLINGERI, 61, of Genoa, Italy; and MOHAMAD BANKI, 27, of Tehran.
MESSINA was critically injured. PALMIERI'S condition was not known immediately. Both BERLINGERI and BANKI were in good condition.
The ship was a mass of flames minutes after the crash. Fog settled in before nightfall, adding to the confusioin.
Five helicopters joined the search and rescued several persons.
One section of the ship, possibly containing bodies, plunged to the bottom of the bay. Police said grappling operations would continue throughout the night.
Piloting the ship, operated by the Linee Aeree Italiane, was WILLIAM ALGAROTTI, former test pilot for military aircraft and a veteran flyer.
The airline described him as one of the oldest pilots with the line. He had been flying the Rome-to-New York route for more than three years.
Under landing procedure followed by the plane, the craft pulled up to 500 feet, made a right turn and then went out 14 miles to the entrance of New York Harbor after each missed landing.
The ship then took its place in the flight pattern to await its turn for a new approach.
Two persons were rescued by a helicopter which dropped a basket to the water. One of them was PALMIERI, a former grocer who went to Italy last month with his wife, MARGARET, to visit relatives.
"Oh, my wife! Where's my wife?" he shouted as he was pulled to safety.
PALMIERI, who was cut about the head, was returning home with his wife to be with their four children at Christmas.
Grieving relatives of passengers besieged the airport.
The survivors, some with blackened faces and their clothes nearly burned off, were hugged and kissed as they were brought in.
Mail, bedding and light luggage began floating to the surface of the bay a few hours after the crash. Customs and postal authorities took custody of most of the material.

The Charleston Gazette West Virginia 1954-12-19


December1954 NY plane crash

My uncle Frank Messina survived this crash. I was told that a magazine published an article about this crash. How can I find this magazine? I believe it was either LOOK or LIFE.


hi thanks for your post i was interested to see what kind of info you may be able to send me regards

December 18th, 1954 plane crash new york

Hi there, if you can send me what ever pictures or newspaper articles that you have it would be much appreciated.
My half brother died on that plane at the age of 2 1/2.
I live in Ontario, Canada. please contact me my email provided.
thank you

December 18th, 1954 plane crash new york

if you can forward the pictures and newspaper i would appreciate it. thank you

AIR CRASH 18 DEC 1954 New York


I have an some mail salvaged from this crash and would greatly like some more details to write the story up. I would be grateful for an copy of any articles or photos you may have. Thanks

Plane crash

I have some of the original news releases ( News, Herald Tribune!NY Times) . E mail me if you'd like me to copy them for you,

George V

Idlewild disaster New York,Plane Crashes , Dec 1954

Hello i was doing research on my Grandfather and found this article.My Grandfather Nicolo Ruscello from Lanciano Italy was on that flight .an died .They recovered his body much later .If any photos or news article are in any way available ,We as a family would appreciate it very much

Thank you

List of Passengers

I am looking to know if there was a list of the passengers who did not survive the crash.

1954 Plane Crush


I am one of the survivors. I was coming home for Christmas from medical school in Padova. If you still in posession of the newspaper please send me a copy. Greatly appreciated. Please contact me via e-mail so I can forward my mailing address. Thank you.

hello, i just read the

hello, i just read the informations about plane crach dec. 18 in 1954. i found some pictures from the plane and news paper. if any relatives are interestet can contact me. regards . banki