Hickory, NC Private Plane and Airliner Collide, Apr 1960


Hickory, N. C. (AP) -- The four occupants of a private plane -- victims of a collision with an airliner -- may have been chopped to death by a propeller of the airliner.
"It looks as if the prop just chewed up the plane. All of the occupants had suffered deep head cuts," said W. STANLEY MOORE, deputy coroner of Burke County.
The airliner and the private plane, both landing under visual flight rules because the Hickory airport has no control tower, collided in a bright sunny sky Wednesday.
The airliner, with 40 persons aboard, landed safely, the private plane crashed, killing all aboard -- three Michigan furniture company officials and the company pilot.
The Peidmont Airlines plane was making a routine stop on a Cincinnati-to-Fayetteville route. The Cessna 310 was bringing the businessmen to a furniture show here.
A Civil Aeronautics Bureau investigating team, headed by JOHN M. CYROCKI of Miami, Fla., will be here for three days investigating the accident. The team said it will be three or four weeks before its preliminary findings are announced.
Visual flight rules require a pilot to stay clear of other aircraft. But the airliner pilot said he did not see the smaller plane and the private plane apparently did not see the airliner.
The victims were JULIUS BERGSMA, 41, president of the Imperial Furniture Co. of Grand Rapids and an official of other furniture concerns, including the Hammary Manufacturing Co. of Lenoir, N. C.; EARL GORDON KROMBEEN, 41, executive vice president of Imperial; DAVID FRANK, 66, West Coast sales manager; and FREDERICK JAMES FRIEYWYCK, 37, company pilot.
Piedmont passenger ED MANSKE of Milwaukee, Wis., recalled:
"There was an abrupt jolt with alot of noise."
The left propeller of the airliner sliced into the private plane, chopping and mangling the smaller craft.
"You could feel the shudder," said another airline passenger, BILL HALLERMAN of Dayton, Ohio.
The smaller plane plummeted to earth, falling into a dirt road a thousand feet from the runway. It did not burn. One chunk of twisted metal fell into a pasture, 150 feet from the bulk of the wreckage.
"It sounded like a bomb went off," said NEVERT McNELYE, a 54-year-old farmer who had paused to watch "the mail plane" land.
Capt. LEE CATTRELL and co-pilot H. A. SCHULZE brought the airliner down safely, its occupants unhurt. A small dent in the left wing, chipped propeller blades and a dent in the tail assembly were the craft's only visible mark of the collision.
A son of one of the victims, ERVING FRANK of Encino, Calif., had arrived by automobile in Hickory about 30 minutes before the accident. He was visiting a furniture concern when he learned of the crash and was one of the first persons to arrive at the scene.
The younger FRANK had driven from California to Detroit, then here, for the furniture show his father had planed to attend.
FRANK'S body will be sent to Los Angeles, Calif., today and the bodies of the other victims to Grand Rapids.
The four occupants of the private plane may have been dead before they hit the earth, victims of the airliner's propeller.
Ten minutes before the crash, the Michigan plane had radioed for weather and field information, said JIM ELAM, in charge of the Federal Aviation Agency office at Hickory. ELAM said the pilot was not informed of any air traffic because the FAA office knew of none.
Both planes continued their steady approach -- the F27 two-engined prop-jet airliner on a line with the north-south runway, the two-engined private plane circling in and down from the left, a witness said. A bright sun burned in the sky ahead.
Piedmont said its pilot had been told about the private plane.
When the FAA learned of the presence of the airliner, ELAM said, "We tried to call him (the Cessna pilot) back. But we could not get him."

The Daily Times-News Burlington North Carolina 1960-04-21