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:

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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:

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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.

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99 Comments on "Memorial for Northwest Flight 710"

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Axelsarkiss
Member

interesting

Randy
Guest
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… Read more »
JM
Guest
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… Read more »
Phil Brooks
Guest

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

Brian Lusk
Guest

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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[…] a side note on his coverage, he diverted to Cannelton, Indiana to visit the site of the crash of Northwest […]

Skip White
Guest
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… Read more »
Skip White
Guest
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… Read more »
TWR
Guest
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… Read more »
Skip White
Guest

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.

TWR
Guest
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… Read more »
TWR
Guest

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.

Brenda
Guest

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.

Rita Herseth
Guest
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… Read more »
Rita Herseth
Guest

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.

Gail
Guest

@ 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?

David Clendenen
Guest

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

Rita Herseth
Guest

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.

Rita Herseth
Guest
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… Read more »
Sonia Cohen
Guest

@ 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?

Skip White
Guest

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.

W. Bennett
Guest
@ 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,… Read more »
Rita Herseth
Guest

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?

Rebecca Fenn
Guest
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… Read more »
Rebecca Fenn
Guest

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

Rebecca Fenn
Guest

@ 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.

David Clendenen
Guest

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.

Rebecca Fenn
Guest
@ 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… Read more »
Skip White
Guest

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.

Rebecca Fenn
Guest

@ 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?

Rebecca Fenn
Guest

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

Rebecca Fenn
Guest

@ 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.

Skip White
Guest

@ 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.

David Clendenen
Guest

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.

Rebecca Fenn
Guest
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… Read more »
Rebecca Fenn
Guest

@ 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.

Rebecca Fenn
Guest
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… Read more »
Orville H. Larson
Guest
@ 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… Read more »
William Bennett
Guest
@ 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… Read more »
Skip White
Guest

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
Guest

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.

William Moyers
Member

Chris:
If you happen to come across my new posting in response to yours from 2010, please shoot me an email. I have an item that belonged to your great uncle that you might find interesting.
William

David Digney
Guest

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..

Orville H. Larson
Guest
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… Read more »
Orville H. Larson
Guest
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.… Read more »
Joe Carter
Guest

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
Guest
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… Read more »
bonnie hackmann
Guest

@ 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.

TWR
Guest
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… Read more »
TWR
Guest

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

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