New Bedford, Massachusetts – September 15, 1957
On September 15, 1957, Northeast Airlines Flight 285 took off from Boston’s Logan Airport bound for Hyannis, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and New Bedford.
The aircraft was a Douglas DC-3, (registration N34417).
The flight arrived at Martha’s Vineyard and missed it’s first landing approach due to poor weather conditions, but landed safely on the second approach at 8:07 p.m. It then departed for New Bedford at 8:19 p.m., 50 minutes behind schedule, due to the missed approach and other minor delays.
The flight headed for New Bedford under instrument flight rules.
At 8:38 p.m., Flight 285 began its approach to New Bedford Airport. According to the Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Investigation Report, weather conditions were as follows: “Indefinite 200, obscuration; visibility one mile; fog; wind southeast 3; altimeter 30-02.”
At about 8:46 p.m., Flight 285 radioed New Bedford tower and advised that it had completed the procedure turn, and was inbound over the outer marker approaching runway 5. The lone air traffic controller on duty acknowledged the transmission. This was the last communication received from Flight 285.
The air traffic controller visually waited for the aircraft to appear, and when it did not, realized something was wrong and tried several times to make contact. It was soon discovered that Flight 285 had crashed in a swampy area about 4,000 feet short of the runway.
Rescuers had to wade through thick muck, waist deep water, and undergrwoth to reach the survivors.
One survivor, Mr. Gerald Bland, was credited with saving the life of a stewardess by administering first aid. He and another survivor, 14-year-old Nancy Blair, also extinguished a small fire which could have ignited the aviation fuel leaking from the fuselage where several other survivors were trapped.
Both pilots were killed, as were 10 of the 21 passengers. The 11 surviving passengers received various injuries.
Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Investigation Report #1-0102, adopted March 13, 1958, Released, March 19, 1958.