DC-6 Wreckage Found;
All Fifty Aboard Dead
United Plane on High Ridge Near Ft. Collins
by Don Sterling Denver Post, July 1, 1951
A ground party reached the wreckage of a United Air
Lines DC-6 Mainliner plane in mountainous country near
Fort Collins, Colorado, late Saturday afternoon and
reported all fifty persons aboard were dead.
Fragments of the plane were scattered for a quarter of
a mile along a ridge of 8,860-foot Crystal mountain,
eighteen miles Southwest of Fort Collins in the Roosevelt
Ground searchers said that with the darkness coming on
it would be impossible to find all the bodies until
Sunday, and that no attempt would be made to move the
remains from the scene until then.
The crash was Colorado's first major aviation
disaster, and one of the worst in U.S. history.
Search for the plane began at dawn Saturday, with
forty-five planes of the Air Force, Navy, Civil Air
Patrol and Colorado Highway Patrol taking part. The liner
was last heard from at 1:56 a.m. Saturday, when the
pilot, Capt. J.R. Appleby, radioed that he was over
Cheyenne, Wyo., at 8,500 feet and would land at Stapleton
airfield in Denver in fourteen minutes.
The big commercial craft had taken off from San
Francisco Friday evening, and had stopped at Salt Lake
Wreckage Sighted From Air at 1:30 P.M.
The wreckage was first sighted about 1:30 p.m. Saturday
by Ralph Johnson of Cheyenne, acting Wyoming state
aviation director. Low-hanging clouds had obscured the
crash site earlier in the day.
The same weather conditions prevailed at the apparent
time of the crash, and the U.A.L. officials assumed that
the pilot hit the ridge while attempting to let down
through the overcast.
Aerial observers said the plane tore a great gash in
the ridge when it first hit, and that pines and aspen
trees on the mountain were sheared away for a quarter of
a mile to the south as portions of the craft bounded down
the mountainside. Some of the trees were fire blackened
and smoke still curled from the wreck at sundown.
The scene was littered with bodies, clothing, luggage,
tinsel-like fragments of metal, and with thousands of
letters from the pouches the plane carried. The largest
portion remaining intact was a part of the fuselage from
about the middle of the plane to the tail.
After the location of the wreck was confirmed, a group
was organized in Fort Collins by Larimer County Coroner
Harold A. Warren to go to the crash scene. They were
joined by a party of U.A.L. officials and a ground party
from the Air Force's Fourth Air Rescue Squadron from
Seven Children Among the Crash Victims
The searchers were guided by radio by Gilbert R. Carrel,
chief of the State Highway Patrol, who flew over the
wooded country in the patrol plane. Led on the ground by
Patrol Sgts. Roy Calhoun and Robert Welch, both of
Greeley, the ground party was able to drive over muddy
mountain roads to within five miles of the crash scene.
They walked from there to the ridge top where the smoking
Some of the ground party planned to camp at the scene
Saturday night. Sunday they will begin the grisly task of
finding and removing the dead.
Killed in the crash were five crewmen and forty-five
passengers, seven of them children. The passengers
included five members of one family--K.C. Morgan of San
Bruno, Calif., his wife and their three children.
Also among the dead were six officials of the Rural
Electrification Administration, five civilian
aeronautical technicians, a civilian atomic energy expert
and several U.A.L. employees. Four of the passengers were
on their way to attend funerals.
The Mainliner was the second U.A.L. plane to leave San
Francisco after a strike of United pilots ended Friday
night. Listed as flight 610, it had departed from Salt
Lake City at 12:20 a.m. (M.S.T.), and was due to arrive
in Denver at 2:10 a.m. After Denver it would have landed
at Omaha, Neb., before ending its trip at Chicago.
Although the pilot reported his position over
Cheyenne, persons familiar with airline practices pointed
out that pilots who are behind schedule, as Appleby was,
sometimes "cut the corner" and turn south
toward Fort Collins from near Laramie.
The fact that the plane was found in the mountains
twenty miles west of the airline's regular airway
indicated this may have been what Appleby did.
Air Lists Crash Victims
Seven children were aboard a United Air Lines
Mainliner which crashed in northern Colorado
early Saturday morning.
Here is a list of the plane's passengers, as
announced by the airline's headquarters in
Miss Shirley Colmer, San Francisco.
Miss L. Frudden, Charles City, IA.
Frances Hoffner, Stockton, Calif.
J.F. Schuster, St. Paul, Minn.
Mrs. S. Sussman, San Francisco.
Navy Lt. D.P. Zylla, Treasure Island, Calif.
John Detlefs, San Jose, Calif.
Mrs. Mary Green, Cherokee, Ia.
Miss E. Ivey, San Francisco.
Dr. C.W. Dingman, U.A.L. employee, San Francisco.
Meyer Brown, Oakland, Calif.
L. Ehrlich, Richmond, Calif.
George Harkness, Berkeley, Calif.
Mrs. Harkness, Harkness' wife, Berkeley, Calif.
Judy Larson, 9, of Oakland, Calif.
Mrs. A.S. Holmes, El Cerrito, Calif.
Air Force Col. Merle A. Parks, Travis Air Force
N.S. Turner, Oakland, Calif.
K.C. Morgan, U.A.L. Employee, San Bruno, Calif.
Mrs. Lois Morgan, Morgan's wife, and three
children, Jane, 16, Jim, 13, and Duane Morgan,
Mrs. Warren F. Morse, U.A.L. employee's wife,
Palo Alto, Calif., and her daughters, Zoe Ann, 5,
and Ruth, 11 months.
Joe Coury, Pittsburgh, Pa.
A.W. Gerth, Alexandria, Va.
I. Thomas McKillop, Alexandria, Va.
Mrs. L.E. Montgomery, U.A.L. employee's wife,
Palo Alto, and daughter, Mary Patricia.
George W. Haggard, Washington, D.C.
R.E. Bieghley, Youngstown, Ohio.
S.E. McCabe, Arlington, W. Va.
T.L. Evans, Clovis, N.M.
Two employees of the Pemco corporation,
Nashville, Tenn.: Frank C. Drake, Nashville, and
P.W. Cullom (no home address).
Five civilian employees of Wright air force base,
Dayton, O., Joseph H. Britain, Benjamin Pingel,
Francis E. Wise, George Piper and I.G. Vann.
J.W. Landers (no address)
Dayrell G. Ensign, Riverside, Ill.
Morton Orenstien, Oakland, Calif.
Crew members are:
Capt. Richard J. Appleby, Los Altos, Calif.,
Copilot Harry Grant Tower, Burlingame, Calif.
Flight Engineer August P. Petrovich, Redwood
Stewardess Frances May Smith, Palo Alto Calif.
Second Stewardess Carol J. Raymond, San Mateo,