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TWA and United Air Lines at Los Angeles


The boarding ramp area at Los Angeles International Airport, photographed in 1955 or 1956. The back of United's terminal building is at the bottom right, and the back of TWA's terminal building is immediately beyond it. At the lower left is a United DC-6, very similar to their DC-7s, and the triple tailed plane immediately beyond it is a TWA L-1049 Constellation, of exactly the type lost in the accident.

(Lostflights archive)

TWA L-1049 in flight


The very TWA L-1049 Constellation that was lost in the accident ~ the Star of the Seine. Note the single window behind the TWA logo, just forward of the tail. This was the lounge area.

(Lostflights archive)

United Air Lines DC-7 in flight


A United Air Lines DC-7 exactly like their plane that was lost in the accident, except for the registration number and the moniker. The plane in the accident was called the City of Vancouver.

(Lostflights archive)

Air Route Traffic Control (with FAA post

An Air Route Traffic Control Center as it was in 1956. ARTC monitored the flights from the Los Angeles area onward and would have continued to do so, passing the task to succeeding Centers all the way to the Kansas City and Chicago areas.

(Lostflights archive)

Aeronautical Radio Inc. (ARINC) radio co


An installation of Aeronautical Radio, Inc., mid-1950s. ARINC communicated with flights en-route that did not have their own radio equipment in the area. For example, they worked under contract for United Air Lines and received United's last position report on the day of the accident.

(Lostflights archive)

CAA proposed courses.jpg

This map is from the CAB Accident Investigation Report, and shows the two flights' proposed courses from Los Angeles to about 25 miles east of the accident area, roughly the first third of the trip for TWA 2 and the first quarter of the trip for United 718. TWA 2's course is on top and United 718's is below. The areas marked out by solid straight lines are airways.

(CAB via Lostflights archives) 

TWA 1956 Hostess serving Meal Photo.jpg

TWA meal service in First Class, probably lunch, which was never served on the day of the accident but would have been about half an hour after the collision. In all likelihood this photo was taken on an L-1049 of exactly the same model as the plane in the disaster.

(TWA via Lostflights archives)

LIFE Magazine photo of crash sites

Aerial view of the combined crash site area looking approximately north. The TWA site at Temple Butte is indicated by the white arrow at the bottom, and the United site at Chuar Butte is indicated by the white arrow toward the top. The river running vertically through the center of the photograph is the Colorado River. 

(Life Magazine via Lostflights archives)

Topographic map of crash sites.jpg

Topographical map showing the crash sites from directly above, encircled in red. They are only just over a mile apart. The Colorado River runs from top to bottom and the Little Colorado River joins it from the right. Note that the United site (the upper one) is right at the confluence of the rivers. Both sites are at the extreme eastern end of the Grand Canyon; a mile or two farther eastward, rightward, lie the flatlands of the Navajo Reservation. 

(Lostflights archives) 

1956 TWA severed tail section photo.jpg

The horizontal portion of TWA 2's tail (the long, tilted rectangular object) with one of its three vertical fins lying nearby. Note TWA's stripes painted on the vertical fin. These parts were located some distance from the main wreckage, showing that they came off of the plane inflight, high above the ground.

(Lostflights archives)

Orange Air Force Helecopter photo.jpg

An air force H-19 helicopter at Temple Butte, used to bring in medical and rescue personnel on the minuscule chance that survivors would be found.

(Lostflights archives)

1956 TWA tail and park rangers photo.jpg

TWA 2's horizontal tail section, the same piece as shown in the previous photo, here seen up close with two men in the picture for scale.

(Lostflights archives) 

H-21 Interrior photo.jpg

Search and retrieval team members aboard an army H-21 helicopter, headed for the TWA crash site at Temple Butte to remove remains.

(Lostflights archives)

United aerial view main impact site phot

Aerial photograph of the promontory of Chuar Butte that United 718 hit. The blackened area just left of the center was the main impact site. Note the army H-21 helicopter sitting on the small sandbar at river level. The distance from the main impact site to the helicopter was a third of a mile.

(Life Magazine via Lostflights archives)

Swiss Mountaineer assembling the rigging

One of the Swiss mountaineers preparing the equipment that was used to hoist remains out of the deep gully whose top is at the center ground of the photograph. The ropes used for this aerial rigging plainly extend across open space from his location to that of some of his teammates on the opposite side of the gully, one of whom who is also wearing conspicuous red trousers to help the others locate him should he fall.

(a member of the team via Lostflights archives)

TWA's mass funeral service for 67 of the victims, held on Monday, July 9, 1956, at Flagstaff Citizens' Cemetery, Flagstaff, Arizona. One of the seven identified victims reposed here was sent home after the services. Correspondingly, there are only 66 names on the bronze memorial plaque that was ultimately set to the right of the right-most row of caskets, approximately where the large tree is growing. Note the tiny, infant's casket in the foreground at the left. 

The United Air Lines memorial headstone at the grave in Grand Canyon National Park Cemetery (now known as Pioneer Cemetery) in Grand Canyon Village, Arizona, shown very shortly after the services held on Thursday, August 2, 1956. The stone bears the names of all 29 unidentified victims, along with the names of two that were identified and were sent home well before the service. The families wanted for at least the names of these two to accompany the names of the family members with whom they were traveling, who were not identified. Only four caskets are interred here. 

(National Park Service)

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