Historical Images of Porter County

United Airlines, NC13304
Chesterton, Indiana

Date: 1933
Source Type: Postcard
Publisher, Printer, Photographer: Max Rigot Selling Agency, American Colortype (#269)
Postmark: None
Collection: Steven R. Shook
Remark: This postcard image shows what is known today as Midway Airport in Chicago, Illinois. The airplane at the lower right of this image is a Boeing 247, which entered commercial service in 1933. This particular Boeing 247 possesses a registration number of NC13304; it entered commercial service on April 7, 1933, and was the fourth production Boeing 247. On October 10, 1933, this airplane crashed on the Jackson Township farm of James Smiley (Northwest Quarter of Section 15, Township 36 North, Range 5 West; southeast of the intersection of 400 East and 1000 North) while on a transcontinental flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Oakland, California. The airplane was on its Cleveland to Chicago segment when it exploded en route at approximately 9:00 pm. Eyewitnesses stated that they saw the airplane in flames at an altitude of 1,000 feet and that a second explosion occurred after the airplane had crashed to the ground. Investigators of the disaster, including the U.S. Bureau of Investigation, found that "...the tragedy resulted from an explosion somewhere in the region of the baggage compartment in the rear of the plane. Everything in front of the compartment was blown forward, everything behind blown backward, and things at the side outward.... The gasoline tanks, instead of being blown out, were crushed in, showing there was no explosion in them." Those involved with the investigation concluded that crash had been due to a bomb, with the explosive agent believed to be nitroglycerin. The historical significance of the NC13304 crash is that it is thought to be the first proven act of air sabotage in commercial aviation. Despite a very intense investigation, no suspect has ever been identified or charged in this bombing, and the case remains unsolved.

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Image and related text prepared by Steven R. Shook


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