Thursday, February 3, 2011

3 February 1957 “An Airplane Crash”

planecrash1 On January 31, 1957, a Douglas DC-7 operated by Douglas Aircraft Company was involved in a mid-air collision and crashed into the schoolyard of Pacoima Junior High School in Pacoima in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California. By February 1, 7 people had died and about 74 had been injured due to the incident. A 12-year old boy died from multiple injuries from the incident on February 2.

Following the collision (of the planes), Curtiss Adams, the radarman aboard the eastbound twin-engine F-89J Scorpion, was able to bail out of the stricken fighter jet and, despite incurring serious burns, parachuted to a landing onto a garage roof in Burbank, breaking his leg when he fell to the ground. The fighter jet’s pilot, Roland E. Owen, died when the aircraft plummeted in flames into La Tuna Canyon in the Verdugo Mountains.

The DC-7B, with a portion of its left wing sheared off, raining debris onto the neighborhoods below, remained airborne for a few minutes, then rolled to the left and began an uncontrolled high-velocity dive earthward over Pacoima. The aircraft broke up at about 500 to 1,000 feet above the ground. Seconds later, the hurtling wreckage slammed onto the grounds of the Pacoima Congregational Church and the adjacent playground of Pacoima Junior High School, killing all four Douglas crewmen aboard. On the school playground, where some 220 boys were just ending their outdoor athletics activities, two students, Ronnie Brann, 13, and Robert Zallan, 12, were struck and killed by wreckage and debris from the crashing airliner. A third gravely injured student, Evan Elsner, 12, died two days later in a local hospital. An estimated 74 more students on the school playground suffered injuries ranging from minor to critical.

ronbrann bobzallan

This PAGE HERE has the actual clippings and article from the story that might be of interest to anyone.

buddy-holly-cricket An odd twist of fate concerning this accident concerns a student of this school who was absent as he was attending his Grandfather’s funeral. He was 15-year-old Richard Steven Valenzuela, who soon became known as singing star Ritchie Valens. Due to this incident he developed an intense fear of flying. After becoming famous he had to overcome this. Of course, the sad bit of irony is that he then, two years later, Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) died in an Iowa plane crash. The event became known as "the day the music died" in Don McLean's 1971 hit "American Pie."

Prior to this crash there we no laws over such military test flights, but after this new laws were to be enacted. The incident resulted in over $10 million in lawsuits (that is $70 million it 21st century money)

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