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1948 AIRPLANE CRASH NEAR MT. CARMEL

1948 AIRPLANE CRASH NEAR MT. CARMEL

Posted: 6 Nov 1999 12:00PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 1 Feb 2004 7:29PM GMT
Surnames: OAKIE, VARDEN
Would greatly appreciate info regarding an airplane crash near Mr. Carmel on 17 Jun 1948. One of the 43 victims was actress VENITA VARDEN, who was divorced from the comedic actor, JACK OAKIE. It is likely that it made the local newspapers. Any help or suggestions would be great--I live in Wyoming.

1948 Airplane Crash

Posted: 27 Nov 1999 12:00PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 3 Sep 2005 2:59AM GMT
Alison;

This crash occurred near where I was born (Zion Grove, N.Union twsp. 4 years before I was born. From what I remember the old timers telling, it hit into a culm bank (spoil rocks and shale from the coal mines) just outside Aristies (between Ringtown and Mt. Carmel) I think Aristies is in Schuylkil Co', but not far from the border with Northumberland. My father, grandfather ... all drove down to see the site. They were kept away by police fearing looters! Anyway, I copied the below from a newpaper article that I ran across years ago.

Larry

6/17/1948 - a United Airlines DC-6 crashes near Aristes killing all 48 on board. Hit 66,000 volt mine transformer. Cause of this daylight, clear weather crash later found to be accidental release of CO2 gas from cargo hold fire extinguishers.
(not much different than what brought down the Value-Jet at Miami a few years back)

1948 Airplane Crash

Posted: 28 Nov 1999 12:00PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 1 Feb 2004 7:29PM GMT
Surnames: OAKIE, VARDEN
I've had 3 GREAT responses to my original query--all very helpful. The people of Northumberland Co, PA are FANTASTIC--my sincerest thanks to them and my wishes for the best in 2000. AWE

DC-6 crash at Midvalley

Posted: 16 Dec 1999 12:00PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 26 Jun 2001 4:54PM GMT
For a New York Times article regarding this crash see:

http://dnausers.d-n-a.net/dnetGOjg/170648.htm

After responding to your query, I went looking to see if I could find the FAA acident report for this crash. I happened upon the above newspaper report.

It seems as though my memory wasn't too far off. Although it would seem that the celebrity I identified as Billy Rose was really Earl Carroll. (It was his severed hand that I saw the photograph of.) And it seems that the pilot was attempting an emergency landing on a culm bank. But it does seem that smoke in the cockpit was a problem with the DC-6.

Plane Crash

Posted: 16 Dec 1999 12:00PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 1 Feb 2004 7:29PM GMT
I want to personally thank the 3 wonderful gentlemen who responded to my query regarding this airplane crash. They each had personal memories. With some help from them, I have not gotten copies of newspaper coverage from Shamokin, PA, New York City, & am currently awaiting Los Angeles, CA by interlibrary loan. There are truly wonderful people out there--I thank them--from Laramie, WY.
Posted: 16 Dec 1999 12:00PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 26 Jun 2001 4:54PM GMT
Although I was only 11 years old at the time, I will never forget the airplane crash of 1948. The plane flew over the Bunker Hill baseball field in Shamokin at a very low altitude (as witnessed by a group of kids playing ball) and proceded on a straight line until it hit some high-tension electrical wires (or tower) which caused it to nose over into the ground. Speculation at the time was that the cockpit crew was dead from asphyxiation prior to the crash. As I recall, cockpit fumes were a problem with that aircraft and may have figured in a number of other incidents involving the DC-6.) Jack Oakie's ex-wife was on the plane, but the most notable celebrity onboard was showman Billy Rose.

The plane exploded upon impact and strew cargo, personal effects, pieces of the aircraft, and body parts over a fairly large area. Efforts to pervent looting were taken, but to little avail. Local residents descended on the scene like a pack of scavengers to see what they could "salvage" from the site.

A friend of my late parents was the coronor of the region where the plane crashed and had stacks of photographs of the carnage which he seemed to delight in showing to others. My parents and I were among the "chosen ones" who viewed these pictures. Two that will always haunt me were: (1) a picture of Billy Rose's hand, bearing a huge diamond ring and severed at the wrist, which was confiscated from one of the looters; and (2) a sailor whose head was literally driven down into his chest by the impact.

Among the items onboard that may or may not have been recovered were supposedly mail bags and a shipment of industrial diamonds.

As horrific as the crash was, it could have been much worst. The plane was supposedly headed directly toward a large (coal) breaker full of mine workers when it hit the electrical wires, causing ot to crash short of the breaker.

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