California, United Airlines DC-2 Is Long Overdue
And Probably Crashed
December 28, 1936 a United D-2 caring 12 passengers Departed United Airport in Burbank for a flight through Rice Canyon, Santa Clara Valley. Aircraft along with volunteers are out searching for survivors.
|Airline Crash Kills
Twelve. Thousands Visit Scene of Disaster. Newhall - 12/31/36 -
Airplanes roared all day Monday over the valley in the effort to locate
the fallen airliner that went down Sunday evening in Rice Canyon. The
plane was discovered about 10:30 AM but a confusion in the radio report
indicated it first east of Saugus and then north, and later west. The
final location was in Rice Canyon almost south of Newhall.
Rice Canyon branches from Wiley Canyon through which the Weldon Canyon road enters Santa Clara Valley. Just at the mouth of the canyon, the Mountain View group of cabins has been built by C.H. Randall of Los Angeles, former city councilman. Here the start for the almost inaccessible spot was made as the road was washed out so that only on foot could the spot be reached.
The first searchers combed the mountain regions for a mile or more before indefinite word came that it was some three miles over on the mountains. Cars started up Rice Canyon only to stop short distance up while everyone took to old fashioned hiking. Hundreds of cars bringing reporters, photographers, officers, ambulance drivers and a host of curiosity seekers were parked in the yard, on the driveways, and along the road for a half-mile or more, until at noon there was almost a traffic jam on the highway, and officers had to direct traffic to keep travel going.
Rain fell all day in the mountains where the tragedy took place, and as California people seldom provide for such contingencies, many of the crowd were well soaked.
A number of high school boys, among them Eddie Ramsey of Saugus and Frank Brawley, Jr. and J.C. Maurer of Newhall and several others were excused from high school and walked up to the wreck, arriving at 4:30 PM. Young Brawley said that the bodies were not badly mutilated considering the fact that the plane had hit and cut off large trees after it stuck the mountain and lost its wings, as it catapulted down into the canyon and landed on the rocks in the bottom.
Mrs. Lee Carson is positive she saw the big liner as it passed over Newhall. She sighted it west or rather a little southwest of town, flying quite low, but turning to the southwest, apparently crossing the Newhall Creek Valley a little below Newhall and following the railroad canyon, but turning westward into the clouds over the mountains among which the wreck was found. She is sure of the hour, as she sat in her car in front of the Community Church and watched it, thinking at the time that it was off its course and had evidently passed east of the airport, and probably east of Saugus. If there is no mistake about this, the pilot must not have realized his danger in going into the mountains at such a low altitude, and the disaster could easily have been avoided had he seen fit to turn to the emergency airport (at Saugus).
Volunteers from everywhere answered the call to help locate the plane and also to remove the bodies once they were found. It was a hard task with rough terrain, cold and rain, but those who went at the task completed the job and at this writing the bodies have all been removed from their place of death. Quite a number of local citizens helped in the search for the plane and after being found, helped in the removal of the bodies.
Some of the city papers were not content with the death of 12 people in that airplane crash, but proceeded to fill their papers with stories about cries for help, or assistance, whichever word sounded the best. Great numbers of women swarmed into the canyons with the men, only to be soaked to the skin and chilled to the bone when darkness fell. There might have been some one lost, but so far, no reports of any casualties have been received. And most of the women soon fled before the rain, which soaked the locality all afternoon.
According to the corrected map of the locality, the plane was traveling towards the airport here, when it struck the hill and lost its wings. It then flew without wings clear across Rice Canyon, and struck against a rocky wall of the bluff and dropped over a hundred feet to the bottom of the canyon, where it was found.
SHERIFF'S OFFICE, LOS ANGELES COUNTY - COMPLAINT REPORT
DATE: December 28, 1936
FILE NO: 23379
#1 -BLOOM, Edwin - Pilot
LOCATION: Rice Canyon, Saugus
On this date Chief Criminal Deputy William Bright, received a phone call from Mr. Kimmel, Operating Manager, United Airport, Burbank, that a United Airplane carrying 12 passengers was missing and thought to be in the vicinity of Antelope Valley.
At this time I have sent a general teletype to Lancaster to immediately institute a search in the vicinity also notifying Santa Barbara of Mr. Kimmel's message.
I have also detailed Captain Morgan, Aero Detail, to assist.
On December 20th at 8:15AM Deputy Sheriff A.A. Hopkins called the writer at his home and informed him that a United Airlines airplane was long overdue and had probably crashed. Captain Hopkins was advised to call members of the Sheriff's aero squadron, and to report to the writer and John Kimmel., Operations Manager of United Airlines at the Union Air Terminal (Ed. - now called Hollywood-Burbank Airport), Burbank, California, as soon as possible.
The writer proceeded to the Union Air Terminal and found that six of the Sheriff's Aero Squadron members had already assembled there. Plans were being made for the search, when information was received at 10:25 AM that parts of the airplane had been seen on the peak of a mountain about four miles southwest of the emergency landing field at Saugus, CA.
The writer immediately called the record Bureau of this office, giving them this information. Also called the Newhall Substation, informing them that the writer was going to fly over the mountain range to the same location of the missing airplane and would then fly over the substation at Newhall, requesting that Captain Marty, Deputies and cars meet him at the emergency landing field at Saugus.
With a member of the Sheriff's Aero Squadron at the controls, Mr. May Stephen's and the writer took off from the Union Air Terminal at 10:40 AM and after circling the mountain around Newhall several times, the wreckage was located near the top of Oat Mountain. Then flew over Newhall Substation and soon afterward Captain Marty and Deputies were met at the emergency landing field.
We then drove to Rice Canyon and proceeded in automobile as far as possible, continuing on foot due to the muddy condition of the road. Captain Marty and members of his substation crew proceeded via the road, while Mr. Stephen's, Deputy Story and the writer continued through the canyon. Captain Marty and his party were there upon our arrival.
Captain Marty, the writer and Deputies remained at the scene until about 7:00 PM, keeping the curiosity seekers away and assisting in removing bodies from the wrecked airplane. The bodies were taken out of the plane, but on account of the inaccessibility of the terrain, rain, sleet and darkness, we were unable to remove them from the location.
We then left the scene of the accident for the purpose of securing food, dry clothing, lights, stretchers and blankets, and also horses and wagons, in order that we might return to the scene and bring the bodies out.
At the time of our arrival at the scene of the crash, Untied Airlines officials; namely, John Kimmel, Joe Ables and other members of that organization, were there.
Upon our arrival at the highway about 9:15 PM, Investigators J.B. Fox and Morris Blansland, with about fifteen deputies were there and were organizing to bring the bodies out by use of horses.
Writer returned to Los Angeles, and on the following day was requested to proceed to the Aero Detail Headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department at Wilmington to brief them about the accident.
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