Robert Bowler 
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Posted by Robert Bowler on 11/16/2011 at 10:51 PM

Re: “Do you have any additional information regarding Eastern Airlines Flight 304, which crashed into Lake Pontchartrain on Feb. 25, 1964?

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – An Eastern Air Lines four-engine jet carrying 58 persons on a flight from Mexico City to New York disappeared minutes after takeoff from a New Orleans stop today and crashed in Lake Pontchartrain.

There were no survivors.

The Coast Guard said it recovered parts of the wreckage including seats, communication equipment and soundproofing. Also recovered were clothing, luggage and what was described as parts of bodies.

Eastern said there were 51 passengers and a crew of seven. At least 32 of the passengers were making the through trip while at least 17 boarded in New Orleans. Fourteen were pass riding Eastern employees.

The plane was due to arrive in Atlanta at 3:59 a. m., leave there at 4:35 a. m., arrive at Dulles Airport in Washington at 5:33 a. m., leave there at 6:20 a. m. and arrive at Kennedy Airport in New York at 7:10 a. m.

The Coast Guard said parts of the debris, including insurance papers, were definitely linked with at least two passengers on the Eastern plane.

THE SPOKESMAN said one of its helicopter pilots over the wreckage area reported there were indications that the plane either exploded in the air or on impact. The debris was scattered over a wide area.

The spokesman said the site was about six miles south of the north shore of the lake, or some 20 miles north of New Orleans. It was about four miles east of the 27-mile-long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway connecting the north and south shores.

Eastern said the DC8, Flight 304, left New Orleans International Airport headed for Atlanta at 2:01 a. m. (CST) and disappeared from air traffic control tower radar nine minutes later. That was the last contact with it.

A VETERAN Eastern pilot said the jet probably reached a height of some 15,000 feet shortly after it got over the lake.

Lake Pontchartrain is some 30 miles in diameter, with its southern shore along one side of New Orleans. Marshy land surrounds much of the lake, which has an average depth of about 15 feet.

At the time the plane took off from New Orleans, the visibility was good. There was a light rain over the area. Winds were calm.

An Eastern spokesman said the plane made routine checks after takeoff and vanished from radar with no alarm given and no hint of trouble.
It was the first major crash involving an airliner taking off on a scheduled flight from New Orleans International Airport.

A National Air Lines DC7B carrying 42 persons crashed into the Gulf of Mexico about 100 miles southeast of New Orleans on Nov. 16, 1959, en route from Tampa, Fla., to New Orleans and Dallas. Portions of the wreckage and bits of 10 bodies were recovered, but efforts to find more failed. On June 12, 1962, the CAB stamped the crash “cause unknown.”

AMONG THE passengers was MRS. PIERRE LE FRUCHEUX, a member of the women's Rights Commission of the United Nations. A widow, her new York address was that of the French U. N. Mission.

Capt. WILLIAM B. ZENG, commander of the seven-member crew of Flight 304, was the co-pilot of an air liner involved in a near-tragedy five years ago. With 100 persons aboard, an Eastern DC7B circled Newark (N.J.) Airport with its landing gear jammed, but landed safely on a foam-covered runway.

ZENG lived with his wife and seven children, aged 5 to 17, on a 250-acre farm at Ringoes in West Central New Jersey.

ZENG, 47, had flown over 5 million miles during his 19,160 hours of flight time and had been with Eastern for 21 years.

His co-pilot was GRANT R. NEWBY, a bachelor who would have been 40 next month. He lived in a Manhattan apartment and was a son of MRS. GRANT W. NEWBY of Winter Park, Fla. NEWBY had logged 7,942 hours covering about 2 million miles.

HARRY IDOL, 39, of South Farmingdale, N. Y., was the pilot-engineer and had flown 8,020 hours. He was married and had two sons and two daughters.

NEW YORK (AP) – Eastern Air Lines here listed the following persons aboard a plane missing after takeoff from New Orleans early today:
LOUISE A. CMINSKI (or GMINSKI), Charlotte, N. C.
STEPHEN M. CMINSKI (or GMINSKI), Wauwatosa, Wis.
ANNE M. CMINSKI (or GMINSKI), Wauwatosa, Wis.
RICHARD C. YODER, Villa Park, Ill.
JOAN M. BYCZYNSKI, Detroit, Mich.
CARL A. BYCZYNSKI, Detroit, Mich.
VIRGIL S. THORP, Charlotte, N. C.
HARRY J. PAWLOWSKI, Alexandria, Va.
MRS. PIERRE LE FRAUCHEUX, (of the French mission to the United Nations), New York City. Also a member of the U. S. Women's Rights Commission.
CLARIELT M. NASSIF, Montreal, Canada.

JACK K. BOWLER, APO 23, New York City.
LOUIS G. MELTZER, Washington, D. C.
NATALIE S. MELTZER, Washington, D. C.
OLE F. RYGAARD, Allentown, Pa.
KENATA ACKERMAN, Dusseldorf, Germany.
PETER V. BRISSON, Bainbridge, Pa.
MRS. MARIE M. BRISSON, Bainbridge, Pa.
GABRIELLE M. BRISSON (infant), Bainbridge, Pa.
TIMOTEO V. BRISSON (infant), Bainbridge, Pa.
WALTER F. CASTLE, Falls Church, Va.
HASICELL L. CASTLE, Falls Church, Va.
NOEL COOK, Dalton, Ga.
BEULAH COOK, Dalton, Ga.
KENNETH LEE SPENCER, Los Angeles, Calif.
MABERT C. JOHNSON, Falls Church, Va.
J. C. ROBERT, New Orleans.
S. ADAMS, Harahan, La.
Sgt. E. SCHARRY, Rose Pine, La.
R. H. SIBLEY, Yuma, Ariz.
A. EARL, New Orleans.
PATRICK KANE, New Orleans.
JOSEPH W. MORGAN, Atlanta, Ga.
JEAN M. MORGAN, Atlanta, Ga.
The following were named as crew members:
Capt. WILLIAM B. ZENG, Ringoes, N. J.
G. R. NEWBY, co-pilot, New York City.
HARRY IDOL, 39, pilot-engineer, South Farmingdale, N. Y.
GROVER WESLEY FLOWERS, 36, purser, Hampton, Ga.
BARBARA DELANE NORMAN, 21, stewardess, Atlanta, Ga.
MARY ANN THOMAS, 21, stewardess, Hapeville, Ga.
TOVE E. JENSEN, 24, stewardess, Hapeville, Ga.

Find Wreckage In 16 Feet Of Water

NEW ORLEANS (UPI) – An Eastern Air Lines jetliner with 58 persons aboard crashed into 16 feet of water in Lake Pontchartrain before dawn today, minutes after takeoff from New Orleans. Officials reported all dead.

The Coast Guard began removing broken bodies and debris from the choppy water after daybreak.

There was no advance indication of trouble. The plane, with 51 passengers and a crew of 7, left New Orleans on the second leg of a flight from Mexico City to New York. Pilot WILLIAM Z. ZENG of Ringoes, N. J., acknowledged instructions to veer northeastward and the plane vanished from radar screens.

Eastern originally reported 56 passengers, including several airline employees returning from Mexican vacations. It added two more names to the list. There were three stewardesses among the crew.
Clothing, wreckage, a lady's handbag and an uninflated life-raft bobbed to the surface of the lake roughly five miles west of the 24-mile Lake Pontchartrain causeway, longest in the world.

“Completely Underwater”
The site was between five and seven miles south of Mandeville, La., on the north shore of the lake.

“That thing is completely underwater and probably all torn apart,” said Eastern Capt. L. E. CLARK, who flew over the site.

Asked whether there was any chance of survivors, the 19 year flying veteran replied, “No ... negative.”

He said choppy water and whitecaps prevented aerial searchers from sighting the wreckage.

A Coast Guard cutter began dragging operations after “part of a body” was found.

The huge white plane, 126 feet long and with a wingspan to match, had stops scheduled for Atlanta and Washington en route to New York.
Eastern officials at New Orleans International (Moisant) Airport said 32 persons boarded the flight in Mexico City and another 17 boarded at New Orleans. Eastern said 17 were due to get off at Atlanta.

Children Aboard.
The passengers came from various parts of the U. S., Canada and West Germany. There were a number of children aboard.
It was the first fatal crash of a commercial flight originating at the airport in 20 years.

The plane rolled to the runway at New Orleans International at 3:01 a. m. EST.

Visibility was seven miles, the ceiling 1,000 feet. There had been rains earlier and the humidity was high. The temperature was a chilly 44 degrees.

An airport official said it was “fairly good flying weather.”
At 3:12, approximately, the plane was airborne. At 3:19, its “blip” vanished from control tower radar screens.

Capt. ZENG took off due north. He was instructed by radio to veer northeast and avoid heavy weather. He was on course when the plane crashed.

The New Orleans lake front airport, a small field on the edge of the lake, said the pilot “received his orders nonchalantly.” There was no further communication from the plane.

Searchers tracking the course headed for the snake-infested swamp on the north shore of the lake near Slidell, La.

Then the Coast Guard spotted oil on the lake surface and chunks of the wing structure known as “honeycomb.”

Dragging operations began as dawn rose over the lake.

Fog rolled in along the north shoreline and a wind rose.

More debris drifted within sight of rescue boats that went to the scene. Water-soaked papers were fished out, including a check drawn on the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.

All debris was being fished aboard boats and taken to an air National Guard station on the lakefront.

A Coast Guard helicopter brought chunks of the plane ashore.

The Sheboygan Press Wisconsin 1964-02-25

Posted by Robert Bowler on 11/16/2011 at 10:48 PM

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