Today, September 1, marks the 60th anniversary of the crash of TWA Flight 529. N86511, an L-049 Lockheed Constellation, departed Midway at 0200 en route to Las Vegas. The aircraft crashed at 0205 in Clarendon Hills killing all 73 passengers and 5 crew on board. At the time, it was the deadliest single airplane disaster in U.S. history. The CAB concluded the probable cause was "... the loss of an AN-175-21 nickel steel bolt from the parallelogram linkage of the elevator boost system, resulting in loss of control of the aircraft."
Tonight, WGN Channel 9 News will air a special report on the accident during their 9 pm broadcast. One of our members, the late Elmer Maze, lived a short distance from the accident site and as an 11-year-old boy, heard this aircraft crash.
It is with a sad heart that I announce the passing of one of our own historians, Elmer Maves. Elmer "flew west" on July 5, 2021.
Elmer was champion of commercial propliners and had the dubious distinction of having been eyewitness to a terrible aviation disaster, that of TWA Flight 529, early in the morning on September 1, 1961. Along with Elmer, who was 11 at the time, was his brother Charlie, who is today an expert on propliners and an aviation enthusiast.
The accident haunted Elmer for 60 years and he was elated to recently learn of the new memorial marker being erected close to the site of the disaster, for which there will be a memorial ceremony marking the Flight 529 crash 60 years ago, Sept. 1st.
— Dave Kent 7/21/2021
I regret to inform the Midway Historians of the passing of two of our members:
John Daraska the holder of the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award has Flown West. John, spent the majority of his career at MDW, having started as a fueler with TWA in 1957. In 1958, John enlisted in the Air Force and served 4 years maintaining B-47's, B-52's, and KC-135's. Returning to civilian life John went to work for B&M Aircraft as an A&P at both Elgin and Rosell. He also served as Director of Maintenance for Graubart Aviation VPZ. In 1966 he was hired as Director of Aviation for MDW Mooney dealer Illinois Aircraft, then Morgan Aviation and Arcy Aircraft Sales. As a Commercial pilot, he also flew as Co-pilot/Mechanic for Chicago & Southern Commuter Airlines, Executive Airlines and Rynes Airlines. In 1973 John started J&D Aircraft Maintenance in 1973 at MDW and for many years had his business in the original TWA Hangar/ CHA Hangar 5240 W. 63rd St. Our condolences go out to his family. May you have a smooth ride and tailwinds, John.
Will Martin has also Flown West. Will was the owner of P-51"El Gato Rapido." El Gato was based at MDW for a number of years. Will was the author of the book "So I Bought an Air Force: The True Story of a Gritty Midwesterner in Somoza's Nicaragua". Will attended our Spring meeting in 2014 and entertained us with his stories of buying and flying P-51's and P-47's from the Nicaraguan Air Force. At the same time he was selling A-26's and flying them down to Nicaragua — many of these aircraft passing through MDW. This book is a great read capturing the excitement of dealing with a dictator in the "Wild West" of a Central American country and living with continually changing "deals". Will founded the Squadron 4 Warbird Chapter of the EAA. The EAA has established a scholarship fund in Will's name that will provide young people the chance to learn to fly. If you wish to donate, visit www.eaa.org/donate and select "Other Named Scholarship" then enter "Will Martin Flight Training Scholarship." Our condolences go out to Will's family. May you have a smooth ride and tailwinds, Will.
Until we meet again,
President -- The Midway Historians
In Memory of Our Friend
Clifford Eugene "Gene" Smith