November 14, 1970: Southern Airways Flight 932 crashes. The crash occurred in Wayne County, West Virginia near Ceredo. The plane, a Douglas DC-9, had left Stalling Field in Kingston, North Carolina on its way to Huntington Tri-State Airport/Milton J. Ferguson Field. Aboard the plane were the 37 members of the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team. They were returning home from losing a game (17-14) to the East Carolina Pirates in Greenville, North Carolina. Also aboard the plane were eight members of the coaching staff and 25 boosters as well as four flight crew members and one employee of the charter company.
The plane was a 95-seat twin jet engine Douglas DC-9-31. The tail registration was N97S and it was captained by Frank H. Abbot. First Officer was Jerry Smith and Pat Vaught and Charlene Poat were the flight attendants. Also aboard was Danny Deese, a Southern Airways employee who was aboard to coordinate charter activities. At the time, Marshall University teams rarely flew to games. They played in regions where they were easily within driving distance. They vacillated on whether or not to charter a flight for this game and eventually opted to use Southern Airways. They flight was the first for the football team that year.
They left Stallings Field and flew toward Huntington without incident. At 7:23 PM, the flight communicated with air traffic control where they received instructions to descend to 5,000 feet. They were also advised that there was “rain, fog, smoke and a ragged ceiling” which would make the landing more difficult, but not impossible. At 7:34 PM, the crew reported passing the Tri-State Airport’s outer marker. They were given clearance to land.
As they neared on their final approach, the plane collided with the tops of trees on a hillside 5,543 feet west of runway 12. The plane burst into flames and left charred ground 95 feet wide and 279 feet long. According to official reports, the accident was “unsurvivable”. The report went on to say the plane “Dipped to the right, almost inverted and had crashed into a hollow ‘nose-first’.” When the plane finally stopped, it was 4,219 feet short of the runway and 275 feet south of the middle marker. All 75 people aboard were killed. Officials also reported that there could have been an error due to water in the altimeter, thus giving it a false reading. The pilots had never flown into this airport before and there was little visibility of the runway. Therefore they had little option but to believe their instrumentation.
They shall live on in the hearts of their families and friends forever and this memorial records their loss to the university and the community. – memorial plaque
I wouldn’t mind dying in a plane crash. It’d be a good way to go. I don’t want to die in my sleep, or of old age, or OD…I want to feel what it’s like. I want to taste it, hear it, smell it. Death is only going to happen to you once; I don’t want to miss it. – Jim Morrison
Life is a gamble. You can get hurt, but people die in plane crashes, lose their arms and legs in car accidents; people die every day. Same with fighters: some die, some get hurt, some go on. You just don’t let yourself believe it will happen to you. – Muhammad Ali
The secret of flight is this: you have to do it immediately, before your body realizes it is defying the laws. – Michael Cunningham
Also on this day:
Nellie Bly – Woman Journalist – In 1889, Nellie Bly left for her trip around the world.
The Big Barbecue – In 1957, a Mafia meeting was held in Apalachin, New York.
Sugar and Spice – In 1997, Reena Virk is murdered.