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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 national forest.

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.

Map of Crash Location

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 City.

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 Denver.

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 remains lay.

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.

United 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 Chicago:
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 Base, Calif.
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, 12.
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., pilot
Copilot Harry Grant Tower, Burlingame, Calif.
Flight Engineer August P. Petrovich, Redwood City, Calif.
Stewardess Frances May Smith, Palo Alto Calif.
Second Stewardess Carol J. Raymond, San Mateo, Calif.
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