1956 airline disaster at Grand Canyon

Another piece of history of the 20th century often overlooked: June 30, 1956, two airliners collided over the Grand Canyon.

The newsletter of the Grand Canyon Association featured a good, concise story with photos this summer. It’s in .pdf format.

6 Responses to 1956 airline disaster at Grand Canyon

  1. Pam says:

    PS– I guess that explains bad dreams about fires, too.


  2. Pam says:

    92 children! No wonder it has such a lasting effect. The 50th anniversary is coming up next year. I liked their what else happened that day/year page, too.

    The school was a two story structure built in 1910 but remodeled and added to numerous times in the intervening years. While legally in compliance with the fire safety laws of the time, the school was woefully unprepared for any kind of fire. There was only one fire escape, no sprinklers, no automatic fire alarm, no smoke or heat detectors, no alarm connected to the fire department, no fire-resistant stairwells and no fire-safe doors from the stairwells to the second floor…

    In the only positive outcome of the tragedy, sweeping changes in school fire safety regulations were enacted nationwide, no doubt saving countless lives in subsequent years.

    That’s why those tube slide fire escapes were invented and stuck on the sides of schools. California schools were mostly 1-story “temps” because of the baby boom and in-migration. But the older, two-story schools, especially the ones back East, all had those slides or extensive add-on steel stairs with cyclone fence sides.

    Thanks so much. What a subtle but long-lasting impression on little kids that was, even a decade or more later. You noticed the Santayana quote?

    The description and organization of the web site reminds me a lot of the one you found for the largest school massacre.

    92 children!


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Pam, the later crash at Grand Canyon was in 1986. Two tourist aircraft collided, a helicopter and a Twin Otter. A couple of weeks earlier I’d flown with the pilot of the Otter, on about the same route. The flights were very controversial at the time, and the Park Service and FAA were at odds with each other and all the groups involved. FAA took the event as an appropriate time to declare a moratorium while new rules were worked out.

    I vaguely remember the Mt. Erebus crash

    Catholic school fire in Chicago? I don’t recall it at all. I’ll go look.


  4. Pam says:

    The environmental disaster question needs narrowing (I can think of dozens and that just gets up to the invention of agriculture.)

    I think there was a later plane crash at the Canyon which altered how tourist flights were handled. Evidently, anyone could fly anywhere above the canyon for a looksee. A comparable tragedy was Mt Erebus and Air New Zealand, in early 80s. They used to have special flights to Antarctica. Actually, it was a booze flight for the passengers but the pilots were caught up in the peculiar light of the polar regions and flew straight into the mountain.

    What do you know about the Catholic school fire in Chicago?
    I remember it in Life or Sat Evening Post; much later had a fellow Beloiter relate his experience in Iowa with a nun as teacher who survived the fire (not good; untreated PTSD) and Stan the Barber in Bethel AK just related how the story was well-known in Minnesota when he was in parochial school. Seems everyone was stunned for sometime afterwards, in the days before CNN.


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