The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), Monday, June 26, 1950

Full Text
Believe Airliner Disintegrated
Small Bits of Human Flesh Found
Wreckage of Craft is Identified

ST. JOSEPH - (AP) - Pieces of human flesh, torn clothing, and small twisted pieces of wood and metal were all that was left of the missing Northwest Airlines plane that plunged into Lake Michigan Saturday killing all 58 persons aboard.

A Coast Guard fleet returned after and intensive six-hour search without recovering a single body or any major part of the lost plane.

. . .

THE MOST generally-accepted theory was that the giant airliner, on a non-stop New York to Minneapolis flight, encountered a squall from the eastern shore of the lake, then crashed into the water with terrific impact.

The plane is believed to have disintegrated immediately.

The opinion on the cause of the United States' worst airline disaster in history came from Capt. N. S. Fulford, representing the commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, Chicago, and Ralph E. Geror, manager, operations division, Northwest Airlines, St. Paul.

Capt. Fulford headed Monday's search.

They said they doubted that the plane could have been struck by lightning and exploded.

"We'll keep up the search for bodies," Capt. Fulford said.

. . .

THE AIRLINES officials will decide overnight whether to send down divers.

Paul Benscotter, Northwest station manager in Chicago, identified several pieces of metal and wood as possibly parts of the plane's forward bulkhead.

Bits of wreckage lay strewn atop the water in one small concentrated area 19 miles west of St. Joseph.

. . .

A PAIR of brown woolen trousers, drenched with grease and oil but intact was the first major discovery. They carried no identification. Later another pair of men's pants was found floating on the water.

Seamen picked up a child's rag doll, a torn picture of a woman, a brief case, a woman's shoe, and more than a dozen shirts and sweaters.

Many of the pieces were encrusted in human flesh.

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Oddly enough, I was able to find very little accurate information on this crash of a DC-4 airliner outside of this article, even though it apparently was the worst U.S. air disaster up to that time. I believe it was also the worst air disaster to occur over the lakes. The site was about 20 mi NNW of Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Date of Original:
Monday, June 26, 1950
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Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), Monday, June 26, 1950