Memorial for Northwest Flight 710

What, you’ve never heard of Northwest flight 710? That’s probably because the crash happened nearly 50 years ago, on March 17, 1960 to be precise. After I left Indianapolis last week, I decided that I would avoid interstates for the drive to Phoenix, and that helped me find all kinds of excellent aviation-related stops, including a memorial for Northwest 710.

The recommendation came from a friend. He said if I went south until just before Indiana met Kentucky at the Ohio River, I could find this memorial just a few miles east of Cannelton, Indiana. It wasn’t easy to find at first, but once I got there, I found this:

P1000253

The memorial is very simple, but extremely touching. In addition to the names of all the passengers and crew (including, eerily, someone with the same name as my grandfather), there is a very nice inscription. See for yourself:

P1000249

This accident was one of the “whirl-mode” accidents that plagued the Lockheed Electra in its early days. The wing broke apart in mid-air and the pieces came crashing down into this spot at full speed.

If you’d like to see the location on Google Maps, enter these coordinates: 37.911041,-86.633044. I also have more pictures from my visit here.

94 Responses to Memorial for Northwest Flight 710

  1. axel says:

    interesting

  2. Randy says:

    I just read a book last week, Poor Sailors’ Airline: A history of Pacific Southwest Airlines, by Gary Kissel, which went into great depth about the initial Electra problems. At the time, the Electra was the only aircraft flown by PSA and its grounding would have bankrupted the company. While the government pondered a grounding, PSA instead reached a deal to limit the flying speed of the airplane. They limited its max speed to 250 knots from the usual 360 knots, until the cause of the crashes were determined. This solution stemmed any further issues until they determined the vibration issue and fixed it with the LEAP repairs.

  3. JM says:

    Nice find, CF.

    In Robert J. Serling’s 1971 book about aviation safety, he mentions this crash and how the media sensationalized it from one aspect.

    I haven’t read the book in a while, but the story went that the flight was carrying a large pallet of rags from one NWA maintenance base to another.

    The rags were strewn about the crash site and the local media reported that the victims’ clothes were “torn off” their bodies as a result of the crash.

    Gruesome– and inaccurate– reporting. That’s still a problem in aviation reporting today.

    I also found this interesting for another reason, since my dad’s cousin was a victim of a 1959 Texas Lockheed Electra crash (on Braniff).

    Thanks for this story, CF!

  4. Phil Brooks says:

    Brett- thanks for mentioning this. You might also add that there is a mass grave with marker at the Greenwood Cemetery in Tell City.

  5. Brian Lusk says:

    Randy,
    PSA’s actions mirrored those of the other Electra operators. After the airframes were modified, the L-188s were rechristened Electra II’s. I find it ironic that two pioneering aircraft, the deHaviland Comet and Lockheed Electra, that faced a major tarnish on their early careers spawned two thoroughbred families of naval patrol aircraft that are still very much in service, the RAF Nimrod and USN Orion.

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  7. Skip White says:

    I was a sales representative for Northwest Orient Airlines based in Chicago at the time of this accident. When I called the sales office that Thursday afternoon, the secretary advised me to return to the office asap. Upon arrival aout 5 p.m., Warren Leroy, regional sales director, assigned me to begin calling the listed reservations contact numbers and advise next of kin. I did not leave the office until the following morning about 8:30 a.m. We were unable to reach everyone during the night. Unfortunately, the V.P. of public relations released the passenger list in time for the late news that evening. It was a stuning experience to suddenly be thrust into the lives of the survivers of the passengers. They were a cross section of people from many walks of life and states and two police officers from Japan.

  8. CF says:

    Thanks for sharing Skip. If you haven’t had the chance to make the pilgrimage to the memorial, I’d highly recommend a visit.

  9. Skip White says:

    I did visit the site a year after the accident. Also, I was appointed area sales representative at IND, April 01, 1960. At the time of my visit Tell City was caught up in the fervor of the local high school’s basketball team which advanced to state finals. The Hoosiers blank out nearly everything else during the season especially in small towns. It was actually helpful as we blended in during our visit. At the ouset of my assignment I was concerned how local people in Indiana would accept a representative of Northwest Orient following the accident. However, my reception was very warm. Thanks to the support by the local travel and business community, Northwest obtained a substantial amount of business from all cities and towns in Indiana south of highway six. The aviation folks in that state were most gracious and carry on the tradition and spirit of the great Roscoe Turner.

  10. TWR says:

    Truly a gruesome crash. The Electra with only part of one wing and the other completely gone came down like a lawn dart at an estimated 4 to 5 hundred miles an hour,accordion-pleating into the ground totally disappearing below the ground’s surface. As the fuselage telesoped together, clothing and interior parts of the plane were blown out the rear in pop-gun fashion,littering the surrounding area and trees. All the passengers and crew were compacted into one mass in the front of the plane on impact,making separation and identification impossible for almost all of the passengers. I lived nearby and witnessed the excavations and subsequent recovery operations. I will never forget the horror of it. Local newspaperman Robert Cummings is responsible for the effort to obtain and place the memorial monument in the donated site. Actual impact site is near by.

  11. Skip White says:

    I believe Northwest paid for the memorial as company records were the source of complete passenger records including the Japanese nationals aboard. A memorial service conducted for the passengers’ survivors required transporting participants to Louisville, Ky and out of Evansville, IN. Several family members also were transported via Monon RR to attend. The service was inspired by a memorial gathering at the Grand Canyon in July, 1956 by TWA and United Air Lines following the collision in the area of their two aircraft.

  12. TWR says:

    You are no doubt right on that,Mr.White. I do know that there were collection cans at a lot of business locations throughout the area collecting money for it. However,I have no idea how much was collected or for that matter,what it was spent on. My grandfather had took actual pictures of the crash site shortly after it happened. The following day I believe. Practically the entire aircraft was buried in the ground with no parts of it visible. A part of one wing with the landing gear that had separated in the final dive,fell to the ground close to the crater made by the fuselage and was still ablove ground. It took a couple of days to unearth the buried plane and passengers with heavy excavating equipment brought to the crash site. It was simply unbelieveable that an entire airplane had literally disappeared into the ground that way.
    I don’t know if the pictures,in stark black and white still exist,but I’m sure they do in my uncle’s attic no doubt. I’ll ask about them.
    It truly was a rare sort of air crash. Lord Corp made the mounts that caused the problems,I believe.

  13. TWR says:

    I meant to mention that my uncle was in on the Air Force Accident Investigation of the crash because at first,because of the distance between parts of the aircraft,it was thought to be a mid-air collision. As the Air Force was conducting in-flight refueling training in the area(Wright-Patterson),it was also thought it may have been possibly military aircraft that were involved.

  14. Brenda says:

    Having grown up in Tell City, I just revisited this memorial yesterday with my parents and daughter. My Father saw the wing and engine spiraling down from the sky that day of the crash The same little flower arrangement from your photos in November is still sitting on the memorial in the exact same place.

  15. Rita Herseth says:

    My parents were victims in this plane crash in 1960. Because my sisters and I were children at the time of this accident, we were not told of the memorial service held a few days after the crash. I did visit Greenwood Cemetery once in 1962, but my family was NOT aware that another memorial in Cannelton was erected the year before. What a shock to find out 42 years later that TWO memorials were built. I wonder if there are other family members that are not aware of both these memorials. I now live in Montana, and did have a beautiful visit in 2003.

    I would like to know if the towns of Tell City and Cannelton will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of this tragic accident in some way next year? Please contact me if you have any thoughts or comments.

  16. CF says:

    Rita – I’m afraid that I don’t know if there are any celebrations for the 50th anniversary, but I would be that if there is one, they’ll put it on the Perry County website:
    http://www.perrycountyindiana.org/

  17. Rita Herseth says:

    Thank you, CF, for your suggestion to contact Perry County. I just wrote them a note on their website. I’ll let you know if they contact me. I appreciate your help.

  18. Gail says:

    @ Rita Herseth:
    my sister was a victim of this crash. The airline sent my mother a picture of a memorial with all 63 names on it , it was one large obelisk. I was surprised when i visited the memorial it was the one they have online now. So I didn’t imagine the other memorial, I often wondered about that. Thank you for clearing that up for me.Do you know if the other memorial is still there?

  19. CF says:

    Gail wrote:

    my sister was a victim of this crash. The airline sent my mother a picture of a memorial with all 63 names on it , it was one large obelisk. I was surprised when i visited the memorial it was the one they have online now. So I didn’t imagine the other memorial, I often wondered about that. Thank you for clearing that up for me.Do you know if the other memorial is still there?

    I didn’t realize there was another memorial, but according to this site, it should still be there:
    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=11122
    They put the obelisk up in the cemetery where the bodies were buried. Very interesting. The one I visited was at the crash site itself.

  20. David Clendenen says:

    @ Rita Herseth:
    Rita,
    Glad you finally got to visit the memorial at the crash site. Was your aunt still alive to go with you?

  21. Rita Herseth says:

    David, it was so nice to see your posting to me on The Cranky Flyer. My aunt was 94 years old and could not go with me to the memorial site in Cannelton. But I sure came back with many pictures and glorious stories of my visit there. You were such an enormous help in providing me so much information about that plane crash. If you ever hear of any memorial plans for next year, please let me know. Thank you.

  22. Rita Herseth says:

    Gail, I was happy to read your response in The Cranky Flyer about the confusion of the two memorials. I also remember the picture of the obelisk, not realizing until reading your reply that the picture was sent by the airlines. When I visited Tell City in 1962, we were only directed to the one memorial–the very tall obelisk. But because of the placement of the obelisk at that time, our family never knew this was a cemetery. We all assumed that this is where the plane crashed. I was only 15 at the time of the accident, and was not told about the memorial service which was held after the crash. But in 2002, I found David Clendenen’s picture and short article on findagrave.com — and it cleared up so many questions that I never understood. I had a spectacular visit in 2003. I hope to return again…maybe next year…the 50th anniversary!

  23. Sonia Cohen says:

    @ Skip White:

    I have a friend who thinks she may be related to two victims of the crash Marney and Cora Duncan. Does anyone have information about them?

  24. Skip White says:

    Believe the Chicago and Twin Cities newspapers had passenger lists published in editions about the 17 to 24 March, 1960. Otherwise consult a public library which possibly would have newspapers in their records.

  25. W. Bennett says:

    @ Rita Herseth:
    Cannelton residents just finished celebrating life in general via their annual Fall Fesival. It is a neat, one day experience down the main street of yesteryear. Also this year, the town conducted an all school reunion. Rather than wait each new year to see if individual classes plan to organize one, the small planning committee spent over a year trying to put together one massive event in recognition of all classes that have graduated from Cannelton High School.

    I will mention to city planners that a 50-year anniversary, tastefully conducted to honor those who fell that day, might very well be appreciated by those of you who survive the souls lost. If anyone has anything to add, please do so, and I will share all of the suggestions with the powers that be.

    Finally, Cannelton, for a small, old river town, has several highly unusual, yet noteworthy distinctions that I want to mention. (1) Cannelton is home to the oldest school building still in use as a school (not storage or other use). in the United States!! Myers Grade School will simply amaze you if you visit. It remains in very good condition and passes annual inspections for safety and security. Inside there are two sets of huge, wooden stairways. Built in the mid-1800’s, one set was to be used only by boys (males only). The other set was a girls only passage back and forth from ground level to the second floor. Think life has changed dramatically since then? In the year 2009, those same stairs are to be traversed according to the original plans. There remains a boys only and a girls only! Where or where are all of those lawsuits!?!?

    (2) Cannelton is home to an ancient factory facility that during its “glory years of the early 1800’s to the early 1900’s, was the largest factory (plant) west of the eastern seaboard. It operated as a cotton mill. The owners of the mill were industrial trend setters. One novel idea put into place was the construction of an onsite housing complex that was exclusively for mill workers and their families. They also created one of the first ever, “company stores.” The mill still stands. Although it has been restored, one look will take you back a hundred years or so to a time that has long since vanished from the face of the Earth.

    Finally, (3), to a more “recent” distinction! Cannelton High School was the first school in the U.S. to offer driver’s training classes to its student population. How about that one?

    If you would like to know more or have suggestions to pass along as to how best to honor those who fell on St. Patrick’s Day, 1960, simply reply back to me.

  26. Rita Herseth says:

    W. Bennett, thank you for the interesting stories of Cannelton. I can tell you are very proud of your river town! I was so excited to read that you will mention the 50th anniversary of this tragedy to your city planners. Several of my family and friends would definitely attend next March 17th. Although I live in Montana, I would like to help in any way I can. Thank you so much for caring about us. How would I be able to get in touch with you?

  27. CF says:

    Please keep us updated here if there is a ceremony next year.

  28. Rebecca Fenn says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to let you know that the Tell City Kiwanis Club is planning a 50th Anniversary Commemorative Event next March. The Cannelton Kiwanis Club was responsible for the erection of the Electra Crash memorial. When their club closed, the Tell City Kiwanis took on the responsibility of the site. We are in the early stages of planning the Event and would like to get in touch with family members of the crash victims to let them know about the event. My name is Rebecca Fenn and I am chairing the committee that will be planning the event. If you have current names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mails, please get in touch with me at rmfenn83@comcast.net.

  29. Rebecca Fenn says:

    @ Sonia Cohen:
    The names on the memorial at the crash site are Cora J. Duncan and Marney C. Duncan if that helps at all.

  30. Rebecca Fenn says:

    @ Rita Herseth:
    Mrs. Herseth, please contact me about the Electra Crash and your family member that perished. I have already been contacted by another family member. We want to try to get in touch with as many family members as possible to let them know we will be honoring their loved ones next spring.

  31. David Clendenen says:

    I am glad to see there will be a 50th anniversary memorial service. I intend to be there. I have no family connection to the crash, but I believe I was the first person to post pictures of the crash site monument and the Greenwood obelisk on the internet when I put them on the Find A Grave website in 2000. I have received about 10 inquiries about the crash over the years. Please keep us informed as the time gets closer.

  32. Rebecca Fenn says:

    @ David Clendenen:
    By any chance, do you still have the names of the contacts and any contact infomation? I went to the site today. There was a steady rain and yet two families came to visit the memorial. They were camping nearby. My minister, who is new to the area, wanted to see it so we went up there together and said a prayer for the families of the victims. I so hope that we can find family members and get photos of their loved ones so that we may remember them as more than just a name on a stone.

  33. Skip White says:

    Members of the Tokyo police force were passengers on flight 710. The Buddha symbol of life was included on the memorial ordered by Northwest Orient Airlines. I recall company officials expended efforts to include every faith of those aboard symbolically be included. Perhaps the minister can establish a contact who will represent those gentlemen and add to representation for the faiths of those who perished together.

  34. Rebecca Fenn says:

    @ Sonia Cohen:
    Ms. Cohen, the article listing the death certificates states: Cora Jean Duncan, 32, 138 Kingman Lane, Roselle, Ill, and Marney Cora Duncan, 3, same address. The article is a little blurred and I cannot tell if the state is Ilinois or Iowa. Do you know where the family was from?

  35. Rebecca Fenn says:

    @ David Clendenen:
    I have some close up shots of all the names on the memorial. Would you like to have that for your site?

  36. Rebecca Fenn says:

    @ Skip White:
    yes, I was thinking the same thing. We now have Japanese families living in the area and they may be able to help us find a clergyman from the Buddhist faith. One of my frineds brought in an copy of the poem that was written and shared at the time by her mother-in-law. There are so many people still around with such vivid memories of the tragedy and they care so deeply about all the families of the victims. It has been so heartwarming.

  37. Skip White says:

    @ Rebecca Fenn:
    As Paul Harvey would observe, here’s the rest of the story. The woman and daughter were family of of a Delta Air Lines pilot. Believe they resided in IL. A Delta flight they were tryhing to board earlier was sold out that afternoon. The wife and young daughter went from Ohare to Midway and obtained passage on Northwest. They were to meet the husband in Miami for a holiday. This site has brought up some sad memories I had cast off many years ago.

  38. David Clendenen says:

    There is a Buddhist monastery and temple in Bloomington, IN. I would think they would be happy to send someone.
    The Japanese police official on the flight was Mesami Nakamura. He was accompanied by Chiyoki Ikeda, a CIA agent. If you Google Ikeda, you will find several links to the CIA website. They actually admit Ikeda was a CIA agent and he died on flight 710. I do not know why he was with Nakamura except that Ikeda was possibly his interpreter. Just an interesting fact.

  39. Rebecca Fenn says:

    Hello friends,
    I wanted to let you know that our committee met last week and we will be holding a commemorative service to honor the victims of Flight 710 on Saturday, March 13th at the Electra Crash Memorial site in Millstone, outside of Cannelton. There will also be a worship service in Tell City on Sunday, March 14th. We are looking at holding the worship service in the community center to protect us from the elements. The Tell City Historical Society Museum in Tell City and the Perry County Museum in Cannelton will have Electra exhibitions honoring the victims. We are also planning a reception for the families after the Saturday service at the Electra site. Please get in touch with me with names and addresses of anyone you know that would like to attend. We will send invitations and details of all our plans as they are finalized. My e-mail address is rmfenn83@comcast.net.
    Thank you and have a blessed day.

  40. Rebecca Fenn says:

    @ Sonia Cohen:
    Ms. Cohen, did your friend determine whether or not she was related to the Duncan family? We would love to invite her to the memorial. Can you give me her information and I will contact her? Thanks so much.

  41. Rebecca Fenn says:

    Hello everyone,
    Our plans are progressing for the weekend of March 13 and 14 to remember the victims of Flight 710 . We have sent invitations and lodging information to anyone that we have addresses for. PLEASE help us get in touch with more families. Our local newspaper editor has sent out press releases to papers in Chicago and Minnesota. If you have suggestions of other papers or means of getting the announcement out, please advise. I will forward the invitation to the events to this website for posting. If you are thinking about coming, please RSVP so that we can have a clear idea of how much food to prepare for the reception and how much transportation we need to provide. Because of the limited parking around the crash site memorial, we will be shuttling attendees to the ceremony on Saturday. There is plenty of parking around the Sunday ceremony site at the community center. The ceremony on Saturday will begin at 2 pm Eastern time. A reception at the Cannelton Community Center will follow Saturday’s service. Sunday will begin at 1 pm. A visit to the cemetery will follow that service. The museum displays will be open both days from 10 am-4 pm. They will have different displays and each will show a different film. We would like to display photos of those who perished so if you have photos, please scan and send to me as a jpeg. Members of our Kiwanis club would like to serve as host or hostesses to the families that are able to attend so be sure to let us know if you are family so your host can contact you to answer any questions and meet you during the weekend. My e-mail is rmfenn83@comcast.net. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions regarding the services, etc. God bless, Rebecca

  42. Orville H. Larson says:

    @ JM:
    You’re right, JM. The book is “Loud & Clear” by Robert J. Serling. In the chapter “The Electra Story,” he mentions the Northwest Flight 710 crash. Yes, I remember reading the same thing you mention–namely, that old clothes were found strewn around the area. They were being shipped to Miami for use as grease rags. The press mistakenly reported they’d been ripped from the bodies.

    Flight 710 originated here in Minneapolis. If I remember Serling’s book correctly, the pilot was Captain Edgar LaParle. (I’m a lifelong resident of Minneapolis. I was five years old in March 1960, but I have a vague memory of my parents talking about the crash.)

  43. William Bennett says:

    @ Rita Herseth:
    Orville H. Larson wrote:

    @ JM:
    You’re right, JM. The book is “Loud & Clear” by Robert J. Serling. In the chapter “The Electra Story,” he mentions the Northwest Flight 710 crash. Yes, I remember reading the same thing you mention–namely, that old clothes were found strewn around the area. They were being shipped to Miami for use as grease rags. The press mistakenly reported they’d been ripped from the bodies.
    Flight 710 originated here in Minneapolis. If I remember Serling’s book correctly, the pilot was Captain Edgar LaParle. (I’m a lifelong resident of Minneapolis. I was five years old in March 1960, but I have a vague memory of my parents talking about the crash.)

    Orville H. Larson wrote:

    @ JM:
    You’re right, JM. The book is “Loud & Clear” by Robert J. Serling. In the chapter “The Electra Story,” he mentions the Northwest Flight 710 crash. Yes, I remember reading the same thing you mention–namely, that old clothes were found strewn around the area. They were being shipped to Miami for use as grease rags. The press mistakenly reported they’d been ripped from the bodies.
    Flight 710 originated here in Minneapolis. If I remember Serling’s book correctly, the pilot was Captain Edgar LaParle. (I’m a lifelong resident of Minneapolis. I was five years old in March 1960, but I have a vague memory of my parents talking about the crash.)

    @ Rita Herseth: ATTENTION: Rita Herseth, I need to get your email address again. My old address at school was closed before I could transfer data to my new address. My new address is willbenn44@yahoo

  44. Skip White says:

    NOT FOR PUBLICATION
    Someone should be encouraged to look into Ed LaParle’s story before this flight. I was told his family was part of a flying circus in Ed’s young years. The report I got was his mother was a wing walker as his father flew the airplane. If I were not so occupied with a book I’m preparing, I would research Ed’s story.
    Skip

    • Chris Wolf says:

      My Great Uncle was the pilot of this plane, Captain Edgar LaParle. This tragedy happened 17 years before I was born, but I have been told by those who knew him that he was a great man and he loved to fly.

      I am unfamiliar with his life before flying, but I would be more than interested to walk through this journey of his life with someone who has an interest and a connection to this flight.

  45. David Digney says:

    I’ve flown on the airlines since 1969(97 flights).I’ve always loved the Electra & those 4-Allison 501D-13 engines..The closest to the Electra i’ve flown,was North Central’s Convair 580(powered w/2 of the Allison 501D-13’s)..

    I’m a virtual Captain for Southwest Virtual Airlines (flying the 737’s),but when I need a break,i fly a FS2004 Northwest Electra…Even in simulator,the plane is awesome…350 kts @ 25,000 ft

    BTW,when the Electra would depart from Madison,Wi,and the prop-jet turned its nose to taxi,the sound,the warmth & scent of the burned turbine fuel was heaven to me..

  46. Orville H. Larson says:

    David Digney wrote:

    I’ve flown on the airlines since 1969(97 flights).I’ve always loved the Electra & those 4-Allison 501D-13 engines..The closest to the Electra i’ve flown,was North Central’s Convair 580(powered w/2 of the Allison 501D-13’s)..
    I’m a virtual Captain for Southwest Virtual Airlines (flying the 737’s),but when I need a break,i fly a FS2004 Northwest Electra…Even in simulator,the plane is awesome…350 kts @ 25,000 ft
    BTW,when the Electra would depart from Madison,Wi,and the prop-jet turned its nose to taxi,the sound,the warmth & scent of the burned turbine fuel was heaven to me..

    Speaking of the Convair 580: My first airline flight was with North Central Airlines in 1974 (I was 20). The Convair 580 was the plane, and I’ve always remembered it. What a nice airplane! (As you probably know, North Central merged with Southern Airways in about 1980 to become Republic Airlines.)

  47. Orville H. Larson says:

    Skip White wrote:

    NOT FOR PUBLICATION
    Someone should be encouraged to look into Ed LaParle’s story before this flight. I was told his family was part of a flying circus in Ed’s young years. The report I got was his mother was a wing walker as his father flew the airplane. If I were not so occupied with a book I’m preparing, I would research Ed’s story.
    Skip

    I remember from Robert J. Serling’s book “Loud & Clear” that Captain LaParle had around 28,000 (!) hours logged. A veteran pilot, indeed.

    By the way–and because you’re a Northwest man, Mr. White, you might find this interesting–another crash discussed in “Loud & Clear” is that of Northwest Flight 705.

    At 1:35 p.m. EST on February 12, 1963, Flight 705–35 passengers and eight crew–took off from Miami International Airport bound for Chicago. Approximately 15 minutes later, the wreckage of the Boeing 720B was scattered over the Everglades.

    Flight 705’s last communication advised that it was climbing through 17,500 feet. The plane went out of control in severe turbulence. Captain Roy Almquist’s efforts to recover resulted in structural failure.

    • Joe Carter says:

      Mr. Larson, I came across a FindaGrave entry of yours for Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN. It’s for the grave of Mary Susan Sandell, a flight attendant who was killed in the crash of Northwest Flight 705 (she was only 20):

      http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSsr=41&GSmid=46598170&GRid=38873959&

      • Orville H. Larson says:

        A personal word about Mary Sandell: My parents were friends of her parents. When Flight 705 crashed in February 1963, I was eight years old and in the third grade.

        Mr. & Mrs. Sandell and Mary came to our house for dinner during the Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday (I can’t remember which) in 1962. Mary must have made quite an impression on this eight-year-old boy, because I asked my mother, “Mommy, who’s that pretty lady?”

        Mary’s body was returned to Minneapolis for burial. The day of her funeral was a Saturday, I believe (we were off from school). My parents arranged for a relative to look after me and my three younger sisters, and they attended the funeral.

        At the Department of Transportation’s online archives, I read the Civil Aeronautics Board’s “probable cause” report on Northwest Flight 705 (released in June 1965). At the end of the report, the crew members are listed, including the five flight attendants. About Mary Sandell:
        “Stewardess Mary S. Sandell, age 20, was hired December 22, 1962,
        and qualified for the Boeing 720B on December 19, 1962.”

  48. bonnie hackmann says:

    @ Skip White: I would appreciate a call from you as I am currently working on a memorial story about the crash of flight 710 for our newspapers, the Ferdinand News and the Spencer County Leader, both in southern Indiana.

    Our phone number is 800-463-9720. We are on Eastern Standard Time and in the office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

    Please give me a call. An interview with you would be a wonderful addition to the story.

  49. TWR says:

    It’s good to see that the memorial service planning is going well. I wonder if any other persons that were actually at the crash site as it was being excavated to recover the bodies are still around.
    I have read with interest about that “pallet of rags” being strewn about. There were actual rear luggage compartment contents blown into the surrounding trees,including suitcases and articles of clothing such as shoes,belts and such that would have been unfit for “grease rags”. There were even shards of aluminum aircraft skin imbeded in the bark of some of the trees around the crater,shot there as the rear of the plane explode from the internal pressure on impact,
    As there were no human remains identifiable as being human bodies,just a mass of flesh in the lowermost, deepest part of the aircraft, virtually nothing was distinguishable as a body part,with the exception of a number of fingers sorted from the mass of flesh and some attempts were made to identify the fingers by taking prints from them. Most were in too bad a condition even for this to be possible.
    All the clothing worn by the souls aboard was still with them. Although the weather was below freezing,the nose of the Electra containing the victims had been driven deep enough to be below the frostline and therefore around 50 degrees and by the time the excaation reached them,decomposition had begun,making separation and identification for the most part impossible.
    No air crash before or since has resulted in such conditions of the victims.

  50. TWR says:

    According to people I know that were very close to the crash investigation,fewer than 8 passengers were able to be identified with any certainty. There were no bodies in the coffins at the Greenwood burial ceremonies.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/44105600@N05/?savedsettings=4397371842#photo4397371842

  51. Rebecca Fenn says:

    The services that will be held here in Perry County, Indiana will be on Central time. I mistakenly had eastern listed in a previous post. You may know that Indiana has many different time zones and just because a county is located on one side or the other, one cannot assume it lies in a certain time zone. If you are planning on attending any of the services, PLEASE let us know by contacting the Perry County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-888-343-6262 or email to perrycountycvb@psci.net. We are trying to plan transportation to the memorial site on Saturday and have gotten very few calls yet we know we will have many of you there. PLEASE get in touch with the CVB if you are attending and remember we are on CENTRAL time. Take care.

  52. Rebecca Fenn says:

    I had a question about times…
    We are currently on Central STANDARD Time. Daylight Savings Time begins all over the country on March 14 so on Sunday, we will be on Central DAYLIGHT Time. So, where ever you are you will “Spring Forward” on your watches, I believe.

    Times at other cities in Indiana…Evansville is on Central time, Indianapolis is on Eastern time. Other nearby cities, Louisville, KY is on Eastern time and Nashville, TN are on Central time. Those are the most commonly used airports in our area.

    I hope I got all of that right…sometimes we confuse ourselves with all the time issues in Indiana even though it has gotten a little better than it use to be since the whole state now goes onto Daylight time.

  53. Rebecca Fenn says:

    Dear Friends,
    We are getting closer to the time of our memorial events and I just wanted to remind you to call the Convention and Visitors Bureau to let us know you are coming. We are concerned about the weather and may have to move the memorial service to the Cannelton Community Center. If we know you are coming and where you are staying we can let you know of any last minute changes. We have limited space for parking and the seating will be limited also. We want the family members to have first preference to seating so please let us know if you are attending.
    Thank you and God Bless.
    Rebecca

  54. Rebecca Fenn says:

    Update on Location Change of Saturday, March 13 Memorial Event…Due to anticipated rain all week and problems with set up due to soft ground from the rain, we will now be holding the 2:00 p.m. service at the Cannelton (Indiana) Community Center. Since parking is available on the city streets, there will not be any transportation services and you will not have to call the Convention and Visitors Bureau any longer. Thank you to all those who let us know they are coming to the services. We hope you will be able to attend the services on both days since they will be different. The service on Sunday will be led by religious leaders from all four faiths represented among those who perished. The public is welcome to visit the memorials in Cannelton and in Tell City at any time.
    If you cannot attend the services, please keep all the family members of those who perished in your prayers. Thank you, Rebecca Fenn

  55. TWR says:

    An article from the Evansville,IN Courier newspaper of the crash:

    http://local.evpl.org/views/viewimage.asp?ID=783249

    As a former resident of Perry County and friend of the late Bob Cummings.(I worked for Otis Saalman), I visit the Millstone site whenever I am in the area and will never forget my first time there shortly after the crash as excavations were going on.
    God bless all who are able to attend the services and a heartfelt thank you to Ms.Fenn.

  56. Joan Goble says:

    I am Joan Goble, 5th grade teacher at Cannelton Elementary in Cannelton, Indiana. I was at the memorial ceremony yesterday (Saturday) and at the memorial service today, and I have to say both were so very moving. It was wonderful to meet all of the family members who were able to come and attend.
    I hope that we can all keep in contact. I felt like we all bonded.
    My students and I were honored to be a part of the Saturday ceremony.
    My media club will put together a small website featuring these two events, along with interviews we have had with people who had remembrances of the tragedy. Listen, my media club from 2001 were involved in an international research project called City Quest (a school in The Netherlands hosted it)…and we had a report on the plane crash memorial. You can view that page at:
    http://www.cityquest.nl/usa/e-planecrash.html
    The interview was with William Buddy Bennett, principal of Cannelton Elementary for over 40 years and also he was the mayor of Cannelton at the time of the crash. (now, W. Bennett, let me know if I am wrong about that! :-)
    I am so glad that so many of the families of the victims were able to come.
    I hope that this site and the news articles that have been published so far will tell other family members of the memorial so that they can maybe visit it some day. I want to especially thank all who worked so hard on this event. It will be something I know my students will always remember. Oh, a nice news article was in the Twin Cities.com Pioneer Press:
    http://www.twincities.com/ci_14666672?source=most_viewed
    Also, if you go to Channel 14 TV (out of Evansville) and look at their recent videos you can see a short clip about the Saturday event.
    It is nice to “meet” all of you here. :-)

    • CF says:

      Thanks for reporting back for those of us who weren’t there. Sounds like it was a very nice couple of days even though it was celebrating such an awful tragedy.

  57. shannon says:

    My uncle was Arnold w Kowal, my aunt has since died, but my mom remembers this very well, all they found of Arny was a couple of fingers…
    But he had filed some kind of paperwork before the flight…I think it’s called
    “flying under protest”
    So my Aunt was able to sue the Airline, because of it
    But its still so sad, may they all Rest In Peace

  58. David Clendenen says:

    I attended both services and visited the museums in Cannelton and Tell City. It was all very well done. Rebecca Fenn and everyone else involved did a wonderful job. I felt that both services were very nice and very respectful.
    I also met some wonderful people and very much enjoyed talking with them. I know this was probably a once in a lifetime thing, and I enjoyed it very much even though we were commemorating a tragedy.
    I went to the crash site Saturday night just to see how it looked at night. I took some pictures but they need a little Photoshop work. When I get them cleaned up I will see if I can post a couple here. If not here, I will find somewhere to post them so anyone who wants to can see them.

  59. Joan Goble says:

    Yes, David, I would like to see them when they are ready. Thank you for your kind words. I was on the committee who planned both the Sat. ceremony and the Sunday service, and it felt so wonderful in my heart to see everyone’s reactions, especially the victims’ families. It made it all so worthwhile!

  60. Rita Herseth says:

    I am the daughter of Barbara and Stanley Tranas, who died on March 17, 1960. Today, on the 50th anniversary of this tragic day, I would like to thank the Cranky Flier for connecting so many people who attended the memorial celebration last weekend in Cannelton and Tell City, IN. Four families of the victims were surrounded by many townspeople and other interested people, who were touched by this story over the years. Several people travelled hundreds of miles to commemorate this day with us.

    I am deeply indebted to Rebecca Fenn and her wonderful committee for organizing such an outstanding celebration. Also, a special thank you to William Bennett and David Clendenen being such an integral part of this whole remarkable story. To the children of Cannelton and Tell City, who submitted their spectacular drawings — you touched our souls in a very special way. To the cities of Cannelton and Tell City…the Kiwanis Clubs…and the Parks Department, thank you for erecting and maintaining the Millstone site for almost 50 years.

    We now have a new family in Cannelton and Tell City, Indiana. Our hearts are filled with such love and gratefulness for such an inspirational experience. Thank you to everyone who opened their hearts and lives to us. We know our families who were lost that day will be well taken care of by all of you. To quote John Christie, who produced the documentary “Across Indiana” in 1993, “This is truly a place of PEACEFUL EXISTENCE.”

  61. Kevin Koelling says:

    Editor Vince Luecke and I covered the weekend’s events for the Perry County News, and welcome you to view the results of our work. I post our main stories at http://www.perrycountynews.com, and generally have Thursday’s stories posted by 11 a.m. We will also post in our slide-show area pictures beyond those we’re able to fit in the print edition.

    • Rita Herseth says:

      Kevin, I just saw the pictures you posted on the slide show for the Perry County News. Thanks to you and Vince Luecke for doing this. It’s wonderful to see the quality of the pictures so clearly. My visit to your area last weekend was outstanding. Congratulations to the people of Tell City and Cannelton for caring so deeply for all of us. We were deeply moved by all that was done to make the victims’ families feel so welcomed. I also appreciated the newspaper articles that were published. Thank you once again.

  62. Rita, I’m glad you liked what we could contribute to the commemoration. If you’re ever out this way again, well, like the guy says on TV, we’ll leave a light on for ya.

    Kevin@The Perry County News

  63. Dear Friends,
    It seems impossible that it has been almost a week since our commemoration of those who lost their lives in the crash of Northwest Flight 710. I cannot say enough times what a blessing it was for us to meet all the family members. And how nice it is that everyone has shared so many links to various articles and photos. The photos that David took of the crash site memorial at night are lovely. You can see the new landscaping around the site in David’s pictures. There are many nice photos of the Saturday service on the Perry County News website too. I will try to send you photos from Sunday’s service. It was very special too with ministers from the four faiths represented among the victims. Thank you all for sharing and caring about all these families….they are SO special! Blessings to all of you, dear friends.

  64. Susan Santer says:

    Thanks you for dedicating you time to such a great cause.

  65. Joan Goble says:

    The photos of the memorial are so very nice! Thank you for sharing them.
    Kevin and Vince, the articles and photos you both did are wonderful!
    I have several copies of The Perry County News articles if anyone wants copies of them. You can email me and let me know addresses to send them to.
    -Joan

  66. Ron says:

    Hello,
    I want to thank you All so much for what you are doing with this memorial.
    I believe this was the flight my uncle was on when it went down, about this time of year, back in 1960.
    He worked for a power generator company from what I was told.
    Do you have access of or know where I could see the list of “Souls on Board”?
    I appreciate what you are doing for the memorial of everyone involved!
    God Speed
    Ron

  67. If you click on either picture of the memorial at the top of the page at the Cranky Flier site, it will take you to Brett’s pictures he took of the monument. Look at the individual pictures and you can read the names of everyone on the plane. Let us know if your uncle was on the plane.

  68. Ron says:

    David and Brett,
    Thank You so much!
    I did find him on the passenger list.
    Warner Mickus
    He was my Uncle that I remember faintly, as I was just a early grade schooler and being so long ago.
    He was married, lived in south Minneapolis with 2 older children, than myself.
    Was a business trip for the Onan Company.
    I can still remember the afternoon when the word got to us about the crash. It was rather somber around the house for sometime.
    My father had taken a special “Fly Over” flight of the crash area with other family members of the passengers.
    I have never gotten a full story of what happened, until I saw an article in this past Sunday’s St. Paul, Mn. paper,
    about the tragedy and wondered whether that was the same plane my uncle was on.
    Sure enough, that was the one!
    I would like to get down there someday to honor my uncle and to pay tribute to the memorial.
    Hopefully within the next year or so.
    Thanks to All
    God Bless
    Ron

  69. Captain LaParle was the uncle of my wife. Ed’s wife Elsie remained in their Edina, MN home until her death at the age of 93. My wife has many of Ed’s Northwest items including his flight log books and some of his very first pilot licenses signed by the Wright brothers. Also some of his air show entry licenses signed by Orville Wright. Ed flew supply flights in Burma during the war and was one of the very early pilots hired by Northwest. He did love flying according to his wife and the Electa was actually his favorite aircraft.

  70. Rebecca Fenn says:

    Mr. Wolf,
    During my research of the victims of Flight 710, I ran across a website on for Davis-Monthan Airfield that records Captain LaParle’s flight there. My contact, Mr. G.W. Hyatt, is interested in more information about Captain LaParle. You can look it up at http://www.dmairfield.org.
    Thank you for sharing your information about Captain LaParle. He sounds like a fascinating man.

  71. Mr. Wolf,
    I just went to the Davis Monthan Airfield website. To see Captain LaParle’s signature in the register, look on the right side of the home page, click on the People button, choose pilot, type in LaParle, see details, see log book entry. It’s very interesting.

  72. TWR says:

    This PDF is a very complete description of the events leading up to the loss of Flight 710 and all souls aboard. My uncle the navigator was aboard one of the USAF B-52’s in the area that day. As I have said before,due to the extreme distance between wreckage pieces,it was at first thought to be a mid-air collision,possibly USAF aircraft.

    http://www.dmairfield.org/people/laparle_ee/1960.03.17_NorthwestAirlines_LockheedElectra_Opt.pdf

    Thank you,Ms. Fenn for the link leading to this.

    May the passengers and crew,along with their families and friends, be in our thoughts and prayers this Easter season.

  73. W Mills says:

    I was sixteen when the crash occured and I lost a roommate in it. Ironically, I had a 35 year career as a pilot for Northwest Airlines.

  74. Robert J. Serling, author of The Electra Story, died May 6, 2010, in Tucson, Arizona. He was 92. He was the older brother of Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone TV series. Further information can be found on his listing at
    http://www.findagrave.com.

  75. Rebecca Fenn says:

    Hello friends, It has been a while since I’ve been on this site. I wanted to let you know that our Tell City Kiwanis Club just started a Facebook page and we have photos from the 50th Anniversary Memorial Weekend services on that page. Please feel free to check it out and “Like” our page. I was recently at the site to take photos for Rita Herseth. The drought has taken a toll on the new landscaping that was put in last spring. One evergreen tree and several bushes have died. But the site remains a beautiful place of peace. If you are ever in Tell City to visit the site, we hope that you will get in touch with a Kiwanian. The Perry County Chamber and the Perry County Convention and Visitors Bureau directors are both members of Kiwanis and could help you with any questions or how to get in touch with me or any other Kiwanian or other resident you may be looking for. God bless you all for remembering these families after all these years. Rebecca Fenn

  76. I was employed by NWA for 15 days on the fateful day of the crash. We were all called in to contact the relatives of the crash victims to do whatever we could to comfort and assist them where we were able. About a week after the incident NWA flew two planes to Louisville with the relatives of the victims. We overnighted there and were each assigned a family to do whatever we could to aid and assist them in any way we were able. The next morning we drove the families to the memorial site and attended services that were conducted by a Rabbi, Priest, Minister and a Bhudist. There were four caskets that were burried at that site.
    After the services we drove the families to Evansville for the flights home.
    It just does not seem that it was 50 years ago, I can remember most of the details as if it was last week. If anyone is interested the Indiana State Police did a documentary of the incident. I called them 2 years ago and they found the 16mm documentary and put it on a Disc. I dont know if its available to the public but it is interesting

  77. Michael, this is the most comprehensive, understandable piece of journalism that I have ever seen. My parents were killed that day in Millstone, and I did attend the beautiful memorial services in March, 2010. Thank you for submitting such an outstanding informational site. The people of Cannelton and Tell City opened their hearts to us during this memorial celebration, and you have completed this year by submitting a priceless account of this tragic event. Thank you so much.

  78. TWR says:

    Yes I second that comment on Micheal K’s site. Very nicely done. As someone who was there as a youngster when it was not yet excavated, this terrible event will be forever in my mind. I stop by the memorial several times a year when I am in the area visiting my family. The victims are remembered and prayed for by many more than just the people who knew them personally.

    Tom

  79. As this year ends I would like to wish all here a happy New Year. I have enjoyed reading all the posts and stories. If not for this site I might not have known about the memorial services. For me, that March weekend in Perry County will always be one of my fondest memories of this year.
    Best wishes to all.

  80. Hello

    I am woundering if anyone had any news articles about a passenger on flight 710 that crashed on March 17 1960. Her name was Betty Jane Gentle
    She was my Auntie, my mothers older sister. I never got to know her because I was not born until December 1960. My mom gave me part of her real name and her professional name, which was Ronnie Lane a well know night club singer. I was named Ronnie Jane but changed my name in Oct of 1997 because of two many difficulties with a boys name. I changed it to Veronica Jane. My aunts maiden name was Stoltz. If you know of any news paper articles about her in the crush am trying to find them. My mom had one years ago not sure if it was from the Milwaukee Journel were she was raised and I reside now. Or if the news paper article was from the news paper in indiana were the plane went down. Any way my mom died in 1976 and I was only 15 years old at the time so when my realatives came to clean out our apartment, someone took the news paper arcticle and I did not rememeber that my mom had it hidden behind a picture of my aunt Betty until recently when I visit another one of my mothers younger sisters and we talked about it. She told me she was invited to the 50 year memorial last year in March but was not able to make it. If anyone has any info on this could you please email me with the info It would be very well appreciated. Betty Jane Gentle lived in Balitmore MD at the time she died but was coming home from a show she did in Chicago.

    Thanks,
    Ronnie Jane :)

  81. Theresa says:

    For those who lost loved ones on Northwest Orient Flight 705, just three years after the crash of Northwest Flight 710, please visit my newly created blog. It was created to honor the memory of the 43 people on board that flight, and to provide a forum for those who wish to learn more. It is my hope that a permanent memorial can be erected in Everglades National Park where 705 went down.

    Thank you, Theresa

  82. Theresa says:

    Here’s the website for Northwest Orient Flight 705 [Date of crash: February 12, 1963, Florida Everglades]
    http://northwestorient705.wordpress.com/

    • Orville H. Larson says:

      Northwest Orient Flight 705 crashed because of Captain Almquist’s desperate attempt to recover from a near-vertical, high-speed dive. The aerodynamic forces were such that the plane couldn’t take it. (Almquist had only 150 hours logged on the Boeing 720B. First Officer Feller had some 1,090 hours logged on that aircraft. And, of course, the chaotic conditions that must have existed in the cockpit–Mach warning bell, negative G forces, loose objects floating around–must have been terrifying.) This crash focused attention on how to handle swept-wing aircraft in turbulence, and sound techniques and better training resulted.

      Mary Sandell, 20, was the youngest and most junior of the five stewardesses (Northwest hired her on December 21, 1962). My parents were friends of her parents.

      Some newspaper reports on the crash of Flight 705:

      http://www3.gendisasters.com/florida/12152/everglades-fl-air-liner-crashes-feb-1963

  83. mark fleming mckim says:

    My cousin, Lois Fleming, was a passenger on NWO 710. I was only 5 at the time, but I remember very little was said about the crash, then or afterwards. My cousin was a very bright, sweet freshman @ Northwestern going to Miami for Spring Break to meet up with her parents, Dr. and Mrs.Stuart Fleming. He flew in hundreds of planes duringWWII but they never flew on any airplane agai n, even foregoing a trip to Hawaii given as a gift @ their 50th anniversary. Their son named his daughter, born the year following the crash, after Lois. Her married name is Kulas, they live in Connecticut, she is now a nurse, and I believe she attended the 50th anniversary memorial in 2010. Thanks for relating so much info on this tragedy

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