Wright, WY Nine Aboard Missing Plane, Feb 1954



Casper, Wyo. (AP) -- A Los Angeles-to-Minneapolis Western Air Lines plane with six passengers and a crew of three aboard was reported missing Friday over rugged mountain area of Northern Wyoming or South Dakota.
The Convair 240 airliner, running behind schedule, was last reported at 10:25 a.m. (MST) at Wright Junction, midway between Casper and Sheridan, Wyo. Western Air Lines gave its scheduled arrival time at Rapid City, S. D., as 10:34 a.m. (MST) and 2 p.m. (MST) at Minneapolis.
An aerial search was hampered by poor weather. Falling snow and sstrong winds cut ground visibility to one-half mile at Casper.
WAL said the plane had sufficient fuel for two hours after the Rapid City scheduled landing time.
A ground search was started Friday afternoon by Western Air Line employes, state patrolmen and State Highway Department workers in both Wyoming and South Dakota.
Lowry Air Force Base at Denver sent two amphibious planes aloft to search the route the airliner was to have followed from Wright Junction to Rapid City. Western Air Lines planned to concentrate a search in the Black Hills area around Rapid City.
Scores of Civil Air Patrol and private plane pilots in Wyoming and Colorado were standing by awaiting word to join the hunt.
GEORGE NELSON, Wyoming director of aeronautics, alerted all available light planes in his state for a search of northeastern Wyoming as soon as the weather cleared.
"We can't go up now because the weather is stinking," NELSON said, "but we hope to be able to send some planes up by nightfall or early tomorrow morning."
NELSON said two residents of the Black Thunder area, about five minutes flying time east of Wright Junction, told of hearing a plane flying low overhead at 10:30 a.m. (MST). NELSON pointed out, however, that the airliner reported it was flying at 17,000 feet when it checked in by radio at 10:25 a.m.
Lowry AFB officers said they would dispatch helicopters to the search area as soon as the weather improved.
Heavy clouds and a low ceiling, air line officials said, prevented the twin-engine plane from landing at Casper, a normal stop. The plane's scheduled route from there passes over the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The Convair, capable of carrying 40 passengers, left Los Angeles at 2:45 a.m., (MST) as Flight 34 Friday.
Western Air Lines head offices in Los Angeles issued this list of persons aboard:
HENRY E. MARTINEZ, co-owner of a Monrovia, Calif., market.
MRS. SOPHIE RADJENOVICH, Buhl, Minn., visiting a daughter in Las Vegas, Nev.
VINCENTE ANDERSON, home town not given.
The three other passengers were Western Air Lines employes traveling on passes:
MYRON G. WEGNER, 27, WAL station manager at Cheyenne, Wyo.
MISS ALTA MAE REIERSON, 21, and MISS JEANETTE H. SCHULTZ, 19, both of Los Angeles. The two girls were WAL rservation agents at Los Angeles International Airport.
Capt. and Pilot M. RAY CAWLEY, 39, Bountiful, Utah, 12 years with WAL, married and father of four children.
First Officer and Co-Pilot ROBERT E. CROWTHER, 35, Salt Lake City, married and father of one child.
Stewardess MARY CREAGAN, 29, Salt Lake City.
This crew boarded the plane at Salt Lake City.

Billings Gazette Montana 1954-02-27



Casper, Wyo (AP) -- More than 60 rescue craft fanned out over the border country of Northeastern Wyoming and Western South Dakota Saturday, seeking some trace of a Western Air Lines plane missing with nine persons aboard.
The plane vanished after its pilot, Capt. M. RAY CAWLEY, 39, of Bontiful, Utah, reported Friday morning he was near Wright, Wyo., 80 miles northeast of Casper, and would try to land at Rapid City, S. D.
Nothing was heard from the plane after that.
Clearing weather after a light snowstorm aided searchers and GEORGE NELSON, Wyoming, aeronautics director, said he had hopes the entire northeastern corner of Wyoming would be covered by nightfall.
Air rescue craft from Lowry Air Force Base at Denver and Ellsworth Air Force Base at Rapid City were joined in the search by Civil Air Patrol planes.
Ground search also was under way in the two states.
The plane, a Conuvair[sic] 240, left Los Angeles Friday and made stops at Las Vegas, Nev., Cedar City, Utah, and Salt Lake City.
ROBERT E. CROWTHER, 35, Salt Lake City, is the co-pilot and MARY CREAGAN, 29, Salt Lake City, the stewardess.
Also aboard when the plane left Los Angeles were: HENRY E. MARTINEZ, Monrovia, Calif.; MRS. SOPHIE RADJENOVICH, Buhl, Minn.; VINCENT ANDERSON, Sturgis, S. D.; MYRON G. WEGNER, 27, Western Air Lines station manager at Cheyenne, Wyo., and ALTA MAE REFERSON, 21, and JEANETTE H. SCHULTZ, 19, WAL employoes from Los Angeles.

Billings Gazette Montana 1954-02-28



Wright, Wyo. (UP) -- A ground party radioed today it had reached the wreckage of a Western Airlines Convair which crashed three days ago and there were no survivors among the nine persons aboard.
Sheriff CARL THOEMIG said the plane had smashed into the side of a small ravine on Black Thunder creek at a point about 15 miles east of here, where the big twin-engined plane's pilot last reported his position during a blinding snowstorm last Friday.
The plane's wreckage was spotted by aerial observers after a three-day search in mid-afternoon yesterday.
The scene of the crash was six miles west of the KEELINE ranch headquarters and 35 miles east of Newcastle, Wyo. Personnel at the ranch had reported Friday they had heard a plane about the time the airliner last reported.
Sheriff THOEMIG ordered the county coroner to the scene.
Pilot AL RIGGS of Newcastle spotted the airliner yesterday. He said the wreckage was scattered over a wide area.
A snowstorm, however, prevented planes and ground parties from reaching the scene yesterday.
RIGGS spotted the wreckage near the spot where Airline Pilot M. RAY CAWLEY, 39, of Bountiful, Utah, had radioed Friday that he was flying at 17,000 feet through turbulence.
The plane carried a crew of three and six passengers, three of them western employes, on a flight from Los Angeles to Minneapolis.
Western listed the passengers on the ill-fated plane as:
HENRY E. MARTINEZ, Alhambra, Calif.
MRS. V. ANDERSON, boarded at Los Angeles for Rapid City, S. D.
MISS ALTA M. REIRSON, Caledonia, Minn.
MYRON C. WEGNER, airline employe at Cheyenne, Wyo.
The crew included:
Capt. M. RAY CAWLEY, Bountiful, Utah, pilot.
1st Officer ROBERT E. CROWTHER, Salt Lake City, co-pilot.
MARY CREAGAN, Salt Lake City, stewardess.
Both MISS REIRSON and MISS SCHULTZ were employed by the airline in Los Angeles.

The Daily Inter Lake Kalispell Montana 1954-03-01