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Vintage Airliner Crash Revealed in Found Negatives

Vintage negatives...of a plane crash? I’m in!

I admit it. I have more items than the time to go through them all. While searching for old photos of a local hospital in my attic, I came across some celluloid negatives I forgot I had. Everyone has the same instinctive reaction, right? Hold them up to any light source for immediate processing. Rather than the usual family poses, these showed jumbled wreckage amid broken trees.

The easy part was processing them. I teach audiences during my presentations how to use their smartphones to quickly process negatives in the field, it really is easy. The hard part? I now had a mystery on my hands. Looking at the images of the badly mangled wreck you can see there are no identifying markings and few features for comparison.

I had to make a few assumptions to get started - the negatives were from a Danbury, Connecticut collection which included many items form the 1930s. Searching airline crashes in CT and the 1930s without a maker or or owner is still a wide search.

I posted to a few aviation message boards and while I didn't get the right answer, I got pointed in the right direction. Using those pointers, I found this headline:

“1934 Bethel Plane crash injures 7”

My summary of the article I found : In 1934 a united Airlines flight from Ohio made a stop in Albany on its way to New York City. The last leg would be a night and wasn’t a problem until the plane ran into bad weather and heavy fog. Off course and low on fuel the pilot picked Tucker field - the name of Danbury municipal airport at the time.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t reach anyone at the airport to turn on the runway lights. Using a hand held spotlight on board provided no help with visibility.

There was no alternative but to make a blind attempt. The images show the result. Three miles away from Tucker field they clipped trees on one for the surrounding hills and crashed. The good news is there were no fatalities, however, 7 went to the hospital with serious injuries.

Crowds gathered to view the dramatic wreckage scene and had to be turned away by police. In one of the images you can see an officer standing guard.

Now if I could only find that crash site....

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