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               October 2020









This introductory newsletter comes to you from our group, Patrons of the 1956 Grand Canyon Midair Collision. Our group is open to anyone and everyone who cares about what happened, or is even interested to find out. The tragic loss of life in the 1956 Grand Canyon midair collision is like that in many other disasters, and they all matter, but this particular accident is also in a small class of Earth-shattering ones. Everyone was certain that the Titanic was unsinkable and everyone forty-four years later was certain that a midair collision between two huge, very conspicuous airliners, in clear skies, in broad daylight, was impossible.


Something in the impossibility, in the exceptional safety of the venture, contrasted with the terrible outcome, is so tragic that we cannot help but be stunned and moved. An event like the 1956 midair collision, in which 128 persons lost their lives, makes everyone pause and wonder at it. Many of us are appalled sufficiently to question the meaning of life and the purpose of life, or how we could have been created with such potential for nobility on the one hand, and with such vulnerability to the seeming wrong of having our lives prematurely taken on the other. And then there is the senselessness of it all, of there apparently being no reason or purpose for what happened.


These are a few of the quandaries that are brought to bear. Whether it just happened or happened a hundred years ago, we ask these and many other soul-searching questions, and for us, the living, that is one of the most important reasons to keep the memory of tragedy alive. The more unanticipated, improbable, compelling, and shocking in scope the disaster, the more we learn from it. The accident that is the foundation of this newsletter has all of those qualities, and has them in the extreme. This is ample reason to preserve its memory, especially.


Our group is designed to do just that. We have a website up and running at, the primary purposes of which are to provide an origination point for what we hope will become a fellowship of those compelled by the disaster; and to preserve and teach its history.


The website has a variety of features, some of which are: photos of victims’ family members at get-togethers on anniversaries of the accident; sample reprints of newspaper articles published at the time; an overview of the accident, written by Mike Nelson, author of We Are Going In, a thorough and heartfelt account of the tragedy and its immediate aftermath; short autobiographies contributed by family members concerning the effects the accident had on them and their families; and similar stories written by non-family members who invested greatly of themselves, heart and mind, over a period of many years, and whom we consider to be kindred spirits.


We have several projects already planned, though not formalized as yet, but we feel that a more immediately relevant place to start is for us to simply ask you to join us in our fellowship efforts, by talking to us. Our email address is:




Once we develop a feel for how much of a fellowship this can be, we can then start talking about group get-togethers, lectures, ceremonies honoring the victims, history-oriented projects, and so on.


Communication is the opening benefit of the fellowship, that much and that modest. We invite you to look at our website ~ it can far more adequately express what we’re all about and who we are than this short writing can. We hope you enjoy it, and we hope to hear from you. Check out our blog too, accessible from the website!


Please keep a lookout for our next newsletter around the turning of the year. These newsletters will be mailed quarterly. 


Here’s wishing you a blessed and bountiful Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas!



Barbara Nelson

bn: secretary of Patrons of the 1956 Grand Canyon Midair Collision



PS: Please feel free to forward this to anyone you’d like. Thanks!

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