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95 Dead in Jamaica Bay Plane Crash

Mar. 1, 1962 - Ninety-five persons were killed today in a jet airliner crash in Jamaica Bay, New York City. It was the highest toll involving a single commercial airplane in U.S. history. The American Airlines Boeing 707 crashed an hour before the city started a spectacular welcome to Lieut. Col. John H. Glenn Jr. The four-engine aircraft had just taken off for Los Angeles from Idlewild Airport at 10:07 a.m. It was making a turn three miles southwest of the field at Idlewild, Queens, when it suddenly went nose down from a height of 700 feet. None of the 87 passengers and 8 crew members had a chance as the airliner plunged into cold water only 50 feet from shore. The plane exploded into flaming fragments that scattered over Pumpkin Patch Channel and the nearby marsh. Those killed included W. Alton Jones, an oil executive on his way to join former President Eisenhower in California for a Mexican fishing trip, and Admiral Richard L. Connolly, president of Long Island University and a decorated hero of World War II. The disaster occurred on a beautiful sunny morning with clear blue skies, the first fair day after almost a week of rain and fog that had delayed or canceled hundreds of flights.

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