Boston, MA. – November 5, 1974

Boston, MA. – November 5, 1974

Logan Airport

     On November 5, 1974, Allegheny Airlines Flight 884 was en-route from Chicago to Boston with a crew of four, and 33 passengers aboard. The aircraft was a Douglas DC-9. 

     The flight had made stops in Pennsylvania before proceeding to Boston.  While 11 miles out over the ocean – not far from Boston – an electrical fire developed in the cockpit and an emergency was declared. 

     The plane blew a tire on landing, and taxied to a stop at the intersection of runways 4R and 15.  Passengers then exited the airplane through doors and emergency exits.  Firemen boarded the aircraft and extinguished the small smoldering fire. There were no reported injuries.      

     Source:  (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “37 escape DC-9 Fire At Logan”, November 6, 1974, page C-1

 

Logan Airport – April 20, 1974

Logan Airport, Boston, Massachusetts

     At about 8 p.m. on the evening of April 19, 1974, a Trans World Airlines L-10-11 wide-bodied jet airliner arrived at Boston’s Logan Airport and parked at Gate 17 of the north terminal.  Everyone left the airplane without incident.  Shortly after midnight, the rear portion of plane was discovered to be on fire.  Nobody was aboard at the time.    

     Logan Airport and Boston fire crews arrived at the scene, but the flames spread quickly and the entire fuselage was gutted, with the fire inside burning so hot it melted holes through the metal along the top.  Although there was fuel in the fuel tanks, the tanks were unaffected, and there were no explosions.  One firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation.

     The plane was valued at about 22 million dollars.  The fire was believed to have started in an auxiliary power unit at the rear of the plane, but the cause was not immediately known.

     The plane was towed to a remote section of the airport where authorities could continue their investigation.

     Source:

     Providence Journal, “TWA Jet Burns At Logan”, April 21, 1974, page A-21, (with photo of burning plane) 

Logan Airport – December 17, 1973

Logan International Airport – December 17, 1973 

 

     On the afternoon of December 17, 1973, Iberia Airlines Flight 933, arrived at Boston’s Logan International Airport from Madrid with 168 people aboard.  (14 crew, 154 passengers.) The aircraft was a DC-10 jetliner. 

     At the time of the flight’s arrival, the weather consisted of a 300 foot cloud ceiling with rain falling and thick low-lying fog which created a situation of very low visibility.   The pilot was given clearance to make an instrument landing approach on Runway 33L.   As the aircraft was about to land it struck the light bar on an instrument landing approach pier which was located in Boston Harbor a short distance from the end of the runway.   When the plane touched down on the wet runway it struck a row of runway approach lights and went off the tarmac.  The aircraft then skidded across the ground for another 200 yards before coming to rest in a marshy area.   A section of landing gear was torn away, and the plane’s tail section broke apart just in front of the rear engine.  The plane’s left engine caught fire and began to burn. 

     Fortunately there was no panic, and all passengers and crew were evacuated safely via the inflatable emergency escape chutes.  Sixteen people were reportedly taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.        

     This accident was the third major accident at Logan Airport within five months. 

     On November 3, 1973, a Pan American Boeing 707 cargo plane crashed killing three crewmen.

     On July 31, 1973, a Delta Airlines DC-9 crashed killing 89 persons.

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “168 Survive Jet Crash At Logan”, December 18, 1973, page 1 (Photo of plane)   

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “168 Survive Crash At Logan Airport”, December 18, 1973, page 6

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “16 Injured In Third major Logan Crash In Five Months”, December 18, 1973, page 1.  

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Runway Wreck In Hub Probed By Safety Bd.”, December 19, 1973, page 35

 

Logan Airport – July 31, 1973

Logan Airport – July 31, 1973

Boston, Massachusetts

 

     On the morning of July 31, 1973, Delta Airlines Flight 723 left Burlington, Vermont, bound for Manchester, New Hampshire, and Boston’s Logan International Airport.  The aircraft was a DC-9, (N975NE).  At the time it left Burlington there were 57 people aboard.

     The flight would normally have been non-stop to Boston, but on this day the plane made a detour to Manchester to pick up 32 additional Delta passengers who had been left stranded when their earlier flight to Logan had been cancelled due to bad weather. 

     After the additional passengers boarded at Manchester, the plane taxied out to await clearance for take off.   One of those who had boarded at Manchester was a man who had a 2:00 p.m. business meeting in New York City.   It was while the plane was awaiting take off that he realized he wouldn’t make it to his meeting on time and asked the hostess to be let off the plane.  When she hesitated, he asked to speak with the pilot, and was allowed to do so.  The pilot graciously honored the request and brought the plane back to the terminal, where it was announced that anyone else who wished to deplane could now do so, but nobody else got off.        

     The DC-9 then left Manchester bound for Boston with 89 persons aboard. 

     The weather at Boston consisted a cloud ceiling of only 400 feet, and thick heavy ground fog which created a very low visibility situation.  Therefore the crew would need to make an instrument landing.   

     The last radio communication from Flight 723 came at 11:08 a.m., as the aircraft approached Logan Airport’s Runway 4R.  As the passenger jet came in to land it’s underside struck a concrete seawall at the end of the runway tearing away some of the fuselage.  The plane then slammed into the ground, broke apart, and erupted into flame.  The debris field was scattered for hundreds of feet beginning at the seawall and leading to the runway.    

     The official time of the accident is listed as 11:09 a.m.    

     The fog was so thick that the crash wasn’t observed by those in the control tower, nor by personnel stationed at the terminal, therefore the airport fire department wasn’t immediately notified.  

     The only witnesses to the accident were two airport construction workers who raced to the scene in their pickup truck.  They tried notifying the tower via the truck’s two-way radio, but discovered it wasn’t working.  Aware that there would be other incoming flights arriving shortly, one worker drove to the airport fire station about a mile away while the other stayed behind to search for survivors.    

     As with the control tower, the fire department was unaware of the crash for the thick fog also obscured their view of the runways.  At 11:15 a.m. the fire chief ordered “Box 612” struck, which notified fire and rescue personnel in 26 surrounding communities in the Boston area to send help.  

     An Eastern Airlines jet had landed without incident on Runway 4R just prior to the crash of Flight 723.   At the time of the crash, two other airliners scheduled to land after Flight 723 were beginning their long distance approach to Runway 4R.  Due to the heavy fog the incoming pilots couldn’t see the burning wreckage.   Miraculously the pilots of both aircraft executed “missed approaches” thus avoiding further disaster.  Other incoming aircraft were diverted to other airports.  

     Only six survivors were located amidst the debris and all were transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, but four were pronounced dead on arrival, and a fifth passed away later in the day.    

     The sixth survivor was 20-year-old Air Force Sergeant Leopold Chouinard, who was sitting towards the back of the cabin.  He managed to escape the burning tail section by crawling though a window, but in doing so suffered severe burns over 80% of his body.  Despite the best medical care available, he passed away on December 11, 1973.    

     The crash of Flight 723 became the worst civilian-air disaster in New England.

     This wasn’t the only accident involving an airliner to occur at Logan Airport.  On October 4, 1960, an Eastern Airlines, Lockheed Electra, (Flight 375), crashed on take off into Winthrop Bay killing 62 of the 72 people aboard.     

      Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Jet crashes In Fog At Logan; 88 Die- DC-9 Hits seawall And Disintegrates”, August 1, 1973, page 1

     Providence Journal, “Crash Scene: ‘No Way To Describe It'”, August 1, 1973, page 1

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Probe Opens Into Logan Air Crash”, August 1, 1973, page 1 

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Pilot In Crash Was R. I. Native”, August 1, 1973, page 25

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “He Got Off Plane At Manchester”, August 1, 1973, page 25

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Green Handles Diverted Traffic”, August 1, 1973, page 25

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Sergeant Survived Severe Auto Crash”, August 1, 1973, page 25

     The Providence Journal, “2 Ex-R.I. Residents Killed In Air Disaster”, August 2, 1973, page 2

     Boston (AP) “Probers Find Water In Jetliner’s Engines”, August 3, 1973.

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Ex-Pilot Was Retraining – Crash Ended His Hope”, August 14, 1973, page 9

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Survivor Remains Stable, Critical”, August 14, 1973, page 9

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Widow Sues In Jet Crash”, August 24, 1973, page 10

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Crash Survivor Fights On”, August 29, 1973, page 1

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Sergeant Testifies He Climbed Out Window”, August 29, 1973

     Providence Journal, “Probers Note Complaints Of Delta Crews”, August 30, 1973, page 15

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “2 U.S. Boards Disagree On Limiting Delta DC9s”, August 30, 1973, page 25

     Providence Journal Bulletin, (no headline) September 19, 1973, page 6 – partial pilot testimony.

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “New England: Air Controller Testifies At Crash Hearing”, September 20, 1973, page 2 

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “N. E. News: Pilots Testify At Hearing”, September 21, 1973, page 5 

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Public hearing Ends On Boston Jet crash”, page 7

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Reports Conflict On Delta Plane”, September 22, 1973, page 2

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Lone Crash Survivor Is Still Fighting Pain”, October 23, 1973, page 10

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Lone crash Survivor Dies After 4 Months”, December 12, 1973, page 36

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Worst N. E. Air Disaster Was A year Ago”, July 31, 1974, page B-9

A Most Unusual Air Battle Over Boston – 1936

Originally published in The Smithfield Times magazine, August, 2015.

 A Most Unusual Air Battle Over Boston

 By Jim Ignasher

       “Lady, please,” the policeman begged, “all I want is your name and address for my report. Then I promise I’ll leave you alone.”

     “Just give me a gun!” Was all she would say. “Just give me a gun!”

     The patrolman was growing weary of the young woman’s refusal to answer his questions, but showed patience by reminding himself that she was obviously ill. One reason he loved his job was because of the unending variety of situations he encountered, and this one was certainly different. Looking at the woman, he wondered why someone so pretty would do what she did. There had to be more to the story, but whatever it was, she wasn’t telling.

     The date was May 22, 1936. The setting was the Boston Airport. (Today known as Logan Airport.) Earlier in the day the woman had arrived at the hangar belonging to Intercity Airlines and asked to take a one hour observation flight over the city. She had taken several such flights in the past and always with the same handsome young pilot whom she requested again. However, that pilot, she was told, was unavailable that day, and was asked by the operations officer if she would consider flying with someone else. After some hesitation she agreed, and the job fell to Charles W. Sutherland.  

     Almost from the start something about the woman made Sutherland uncomfortable, but he couldn’t say exactly what that “something” was. She was attractive and well dressed, wearing a white linen skirt under a finely tailored blue coat. Her hair and makeup were perfect. Maybe that was it; she looked more like she was ready for an important date than someone who wanted to go flying.

     They climbed into an open-cockpit bi-plane, of the type commonly seen in old World War I movies. The seats were in tandem. While Sutherland took the front seat where the pilot’s controls were located, the woman sat in the rear. There was a rearview mirror, similar to those in an automobile, mounted above the front cockpit which allowed Sutherland to periodically glance back at his passenger as he went though the pre-flight safety check. Although Sutherland’s gut told him something wasn’t right, the woman’s demeanor seemed normal.

     Flying in such open aircraft generally required a leather helmet and goggles. The helmet kept the wind from pulling at ones hair and offered minimal protection in an accident, while the goggles protected ones eyes from wind and grit. The woman seemed reluctant to don the headgear, and Sutherland wondered if it was because of her stylish hair-do, but finally and carefully, she put it on.

     Seeing that the woman was settled in, Sutherland started the engine and taxied out to the runway. The weather was clear and seasonable and he hoped the flight would be nothing more than routine. The takeoff and rise to altitude went smoothly, and in a few minutes he leveled the plane at 10,000 feet and began a long lazy circle over Boston Harbor that would take them around the city and back to the airport.

     Things appeared to be going well, and the pilot began to wonder if his fears had been unfounded. Periodically glancing in the rearview mirror, he saw that the lady seemed to be enjoying the flight, but then she suddenly unfastened her seatbelt and begin shifting around in her seat. At one point she leaned way out of the cockpit to peer over the side. Sutherland turned to ask if she was alright and she nodded, but didn’t smile. To him, it appeared as if she was trying to make up her mind about something – was she going to jump? Sutherland couldn’t take the chance. He put the plane into a steep dive with the intent of returning to the airport, but as the plane descended the woman’s behavior became more erratic.

     At 1,500 feet she suddenly pulled off her helmet and goggles and tossed them overboard, letting her thick brown hair billow in the slipstream. Then she tried to climb out of the airplane! As she put one leg over the side Sutherland knew he had to act quickly. Unfastening his own safety belt, he stood up, reached back, and grabbed her by the only thing her could – her hair.   He then used his brawn to pull her back into her seat, but by this point she was intent on finishing what she’d come to do. She fought back, hitting, scratching, swearing, and biting, but Sutherland held tight.

     There he was, standing up in the airplane roughly 2,000 feet over the city, with one hand on the control stick and the other gripping the woman’s hair, struggling to keep the ship steady as he searched for the airport. Strong winds coming in off the ocean buffeted and rocked the plane making the situation all the more difficult, for it wouldn’t take much to toss both of them into space.    

     The battle against life and death raged for the next fifteen minutes over the skies of Boston. There was no way for Sutherland to call for help, and there was nothing anyone could do even if there had been. He was on his own, trapped in the sky struggling with a deranged woman who could at any moment bring both of them hurtling to their deaths.

     She screamed and swore at Sutherland, calling him every name in the book, and a few that hadn’t been invented yet, all the while trying every move she could think of to get him to let go. The question was; did she want to kill herself more than Sutherland wanted to save her?

     She flailed and twisted. Sutherland locked his arm and continued to hold tight. Every time he brought the plane closer to the ground she would cause him to jerk back on the controls and regain altitude. As the low flying plane passed erratically over the city, people on the ground thought it was some sort of publicity stunt, but for what they weren’t sure.    

   The battle continued, and both participants grew tired. Sutherland still held firm, but his arm was cramping. He could feel his strength ebbing and wondered how much longer he could hold on. Then an idea came to him. He swung the plane hard throwing the woman off balance and causing her to tumble into her seat. In that few seconds it took her to recover, he switched hands, and battle started anew. Spotting the airport ahead, he made a straight line for it. Boston’s airport was a busy one, and he hoped other air traffic would see him coming and get out of his way. If it didn’t, then his efforts would have been for naught.

   Miraculously, he managed to land the plane in his contorted position, and as soon as the wheels touched the tarmac the woman stopped fighting, slumped in her seat, and accepted defeat.  Airport employees raced out in a car to meet them and gave Sutherland a hand in holding the woman until Boston police could arrive.

     Even though the woman had flown with Intercity Airlines before, nobody had ever bothered to ask her name, for such things were not required in 1936. She carried no identification, and when police questioned her all she would say was, “Just give me a gun.” Exasperated, they took her to a nearby hospital for evaluation where she was admitted as a “Jane Doe”. Her picture was posted in local papers hoping someone would recognize her, but follow-up articles for this story could not be located.

     As for Mr. Sutherland, he was hailed as a hero, and he no doubt decided to trust his instincts more in the future. What motivated the pretty young woman to try to end her life is unknown, but her actions made for what is perhaps the most unusual aerial battle to ever take place over Boston.      

 

 

 

East Boston Airport – 1922

East Boston Airport – 1922

Boston, Massachusetts

Vintage Post Card View Of East Boston Airport

Vintage Post Card View Of East Boston Airport

     The East Boston Airport later grew to become Logan International Airport.

     The following newspaper article appeared in The New York Herald on May 16, 1922, Page 8.  

     Airport For Massachusetts

     Through the action of Governor Cox of Massachusetts in signing the bill providing for an airport in East Boston that Commonwealth becomes the first state in the Union to join with the Federal Government in establishing an airplane landing in conformity with the recommendations of the President.  Once again Massachusetts shows the way to other states in creating an institution which must eventually be imitated all over the country.

     Last March Mayor Curley of Boston wrote Governor Cox asking his help in obtaining the enactment of the bill, adding that of the $35,000 needed for the purpose Boston would have to pay about 40 percent, and that the city was prepared to assume that obligation.  Then he made two statements which showed that he was thoroughly aware of the future importance of aircraft.  One was that if the Federal Government adopted the ship subsidy it would inevitably tend to the development of a great merchant marine, which merchant marine, in the event of war, can best be protected through the service of aircraft.  He also pointed out that one inevitable result of the signing of the Four Power Treaty would be an “intense activity of the leading Powers of the world in aircraft development.”

     These are shrewd and far seeing observations, for a result of the failure of the Conference on the Limitation of Armaments to restrict aircraft building is the likelihood of just such activity as the Mayor of Boston pointed out.  In many parts of the country this possibility either has been overlooked or has not been considered worthy of much attention.  It is to the credit of Massachusetts and the city officials of Boston that they not only have foreseen this possibility, but had had the wisdom to act on the need created by the situation regarding aircraft. (End of article)    

East Boston Airport Accidents

                                      

      The following is a list of some early accidents/crashes which occurred at East Boston Airport.  For further information about any of them, refer to the “Aviation Accidents” – “Massachusetts” section of this website.  This is by no means a complete list of every accident that occurred at the airport, and others will be added as they become known.

     July 24, 1923: An army plane crashed on takeoff. 

     May 2, 1925: An army plane spun into the mud flats off runway.

     Dec. 19, 1925: A U.S. Army Curtis JN-4 crashed on landing.

     Dec. 19, 1928: A U.S. Army O2C biplane crashed in Boston Harbor.

     July 3, 1929: An army observation aircraft flipped on takeoff by gust of cross wind.

     July 8, 1929: Civilian airliner crashed making emergency landing.

     Aug. 27, 1929: Cessna aircraft crashed on approach.

     March 17, 1930: Army plane crashed in Boston Harbor.

     May 18, 1930: A Curtis monoplane crashed in water.   

     June 5, 1930: Fort Tri-motor passenger plane crashed on takeoff.  

     Sept. 27, 1930: Landing gear collapsed on army plane while landing.

     Feb. 26, & 27, 1934: Two U.S. Mail planes crashed into snow banks on landing.

     May 30, 1936: Army plane crashed into harbor.

     Dec. 22, 1937: “Santa Clause” parachuted over airport, landed in water, drowned.

     August 18, 1941: Army plane crashed into harbor.

    Sept. 15, 1941: Army P-40 aircraft collided with another aircraft.

    June 22, 1942: Army P-40 aircraft went into harbor at end of runway.

      

      

      

 

 

Logan Airport, MA – October 4, 1960

Logan Airport

Boston, Massachusetts – October 4, 1960 

        

Vintage Post Card View Of Boston's Logan Airport

Vintage Post Card View Of Boston’s Logan Airport

     The aircraft involved in this accident was a four-engine Lockheed Electra L-188, registration N5533.

     At 5:40 p.m., on October 4, 1960, Eastern Airlines Flight 375 was departing Boston’s Logan International Airport on runway 9 with 67 passengers and a crew of 5 aboard.   Just seconds after becoming airborne off the runway, a flock of starlings flew into its path and some were sucked into three of the four engines.  The aircraft then yawed to the left and decelerated to stall speed as it continued forward towards the harbor at the end of the runway.  Once over the water the left wing dropped while the nose pitched upwards and the aircraft dropped almost vertically into the water from and altitude of about 150 feet.     

     Only 10 of the 72 persons aboard survived the crash.   Two of the survivors were members of the crew, and nine of the ten survivors suffered serious injuries.

     The accident was witnessed by numerous witnesses on the ground,  two of whom happened to have cameras and took pictures while the plane was still airborne.  The photos were given to investigators.

     Source:

     Civil Aeronautics Board Aircraft Accident Report, file #1-0043, adopted July 26, 1962, released July 31, 1962

Off Boston, MA – October 29, 1957

Off Boston, Massachusetts – October 29, 1957

    

Vintage Post Card View Of Boston's Logan Airport

Vintage Post Card View Of Boston’s Logan Airport

     On October 29, 1957, Scandinavian Airlines Flight 912 departed Idlewild Airport, (Today known as J.F. K. Airport) in New York bound for Copenhagen, Denmark.  

     The aircraft was a DC-7C with Danish Registry OY-KNB.

     At approximately 5:15 p.m., while about 200 miles off the coast of Maine, the No. 1 engine on the left wing began running erratically and then the propeller began to over speed at 4,000 r.p.m. The crew tried to feather the prop but without results.  Then sparks and flame appeared around the engine cowling.

     The pilot declared an emergency and descended to 8,000 feet while receiving routing instructions to return to Idlewild, which were later changed to Boston’s Logan Airport which was closer than New York.   Meanwhile, a Coast Guard plane was dispatched from Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island and intercepted Flight 912 at 7:42 p.m.

     As Flight 912 was making its approach to Boston at 4,000 feet the spinning propeller broke free and fell into the sea.  The aircraft made a safe landing at Boston on runway 22L where it was met by fire crews who sprayed foam over the left wing as a precautionary measure.    

     There were no injuries reported, and occupants of the plane departed safely.

     Source: Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Investigation Report #F-105-57

         

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲