Oklahoma City, OK Airliner Crashes, Mar 1939

Oklahoma City OK Braniff Crash 3-26-1939.jpg




Oklahoma City, March 27 -- (AP) -- The debris of a powerful motor was expected to come under study of federal investigators who converged here today after the fiery crash of a twin-engined 14 passenger Braniff airliner here yesterday in which eight persons perished.
Of the four survivors, CARL ERICKSON, a passenger from Chicago, was least seriously injured. The others, including the pilot, CAPT. CLAUDE SEATON, Dallas, his co-pilot, MALCOLM WALLACE, and PERRY R. SMITH, a passenger, Corpus Christi, Tex., were expected to recover.
"We had just taken off," said ERICKSON. "I was sitting on the left side and was looking out the window. The propellor seemed to give way and the left motor went bad. Then we crashed."
The pilot's physician, Dr. H. D. Collins, said SEATON told him "a motor 'went to pieces' in the air." The doctor said that he took it "that he meant that the motor failed."
When the ship crashed about two minutes after the takeoff the eight killed were trapped as it then burst into flames.
The plane smashed about 3 a.m. Sunday just west of the Municipal airport boundary lights as it was returning to the field. Just after the takeoff it radioed: "Turn on lights. Returning to field."
The left motor was found 20 yards from the wreckage. The two passengers who escaped alive pulled off their safety belts and struggled from the plane just as it caught fire.
The bodies were slumped in the forward part of the ship. The hostess, MISS LOUISE ZARR, 25, Dallas, was at her post.
MISS JOAN ALLAN, 35, and Evanston, Ill., nurse and one of the eight victims had "sensed a tragic death because of a terrible dream she had two weeks ago," a friend said.
The friend, MISS ELENA GOULD of Evanston, said a note was found in MISS ALLAN'S room addressed to friends, Mr. and Mrs. William Baker of South Bend, Ind.
MISS GOULD said the note began by saying, "I am not expecting accident, but in case one should occur these are my requests." One of MISS ALLAN'S requests was that she be cremated.
Her charred body and those of the seven other victims were pulled from the smouldering plane more than an hour after it crashed.
Two of the victims, BEN COPLAN and BARNEY G. CROSSMAN, 37, brothers-in-law, were en route to the bedside of COPLON'S wife, IDA, in a Houston, Tex., hospital. COPLON lived at Chicago, and GROSSMAN at Aurora, Ill.
Others killed were T. T. BATE, Denver; MRS. GEORGIA SHELDON, of Omaha and Salina, Kas., FERIM CAIRO, Mexico City, and MRS. E. HINCKLEY, Port Isabel, Tex.
The ship was bound from Chicago to Dallas.
Federal investigation was started by N. Bert Ison, Dallas, senior air carrier inspector for the CAA; A. F. Notely, Fort Worth, CAA maintenance inspector, and E. B. Franklin, Dallas, CAA inspector.
Tom Hardin, vice chairman of the CAA safety board, was expected this afternoon to conduct a formal hearing.
The crash was the first fatality to a passenger in the airline's history. Six company employes were killed Dec. 23, 1936, in a test flight at Dallas.
Charles Beard, vice president in charge of traffic for Braniff, praised the "skilful handling" of the plane by SEATON and WALLACE as "undoubtedly respoonsible for saving the lives of two of the passengers."

The Ada Evening News Oklahoma 1939-03-27