NEWS NEWS AND MORE NEWS I am going to get all of my memories down, before I forget what I remember!. . . . quote from Stanley Forman

22Nov/122

Logan Airport and Me

Logan Air­port, 1977

Since the tragic yet fas­ci­nat­ing story on the news Novem­ber 21, 2010 about Delvonte Tins­dale a 16 year old who is believed to have stowed away in the wheel well of a plane from Char­lotte, North Car­olina and falling to his death over the down of Mil­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts I have been think­ing about my expe­ri­ences at Logan Airport.

As a kid grow­ing up in Revere, the planes were on a land­ing path over our house. Some­times we thought the plane was com­ing for din­ner.  There was also a small air­port in Revere we vis­ited as a fam­ily to watch the planes land­ing and tak­ing off.

Once in a while when my friends had noth­ing to do we would get on the train and go to Logan to watch the big planes com­ing and going. In those days you could watch peo­ple get­ting on and off the planes on the tar­mac from a roof top bal­cony.  I was there with my good friend Peter Tegan many years ago when Eliz­a­beth Tay­lor landed.  It was just after she left Eddie Fisher for Richard Bur­ton while film­ing “Cleopa­tra.”  To say the least, most of the peo­ple watch­ing were not com­pli­men­tary to her when she walked the tar­mac although I doubt she could hear what was being shouted from where we were.

The first plane crash at Logan I remem­ber had to be in the early 60s.  The plane went off the run­way into Winthrop Har­bor; that stretch of water between Logan and Winthrop. Gene Dixon, one of the great pho­tog­ra­phers I worked with, told the story of hear­ing the first call and fol­low­ing a Boston Police Cruiser through the Sum­mer Tun­nel (there was only one tun­nel in those days and it was two-way com­ing and going from Boston to East Boston). The cruiser was not sure the best access and went up and down the inlet streets of Winthrop and ended up on Dix Street where for­mer Gov­er­nor Edward King lived.  It was a good access point from that side of the tragedy and Gene took what­ever pho­tos he could make from that dis­tance. In high school after the crash one of my teach­ers, Mr. Mil­l­er­ick, talked about the crash and com­plained how many rubber-neckers there were try­ing to get a glimpse of the inci­dent. Truth be known even back then had I been able to get there I would have been there.

When the Boston Fire Depart­ment struck fire box 612 you knew it could be some­thing as that was the fire box num­ber for crashes at Logan. There was a crash in the late ‘70s when an air­plane com­ing in for a land­ing in the fog hit the retain­ing wall on Run­way 33 Left, break­ing apart on impact and burst­ing into flames. The day that hap­pened I was doing an inter­view in New­ton at the home of a widow whose hus­band had been shot through one of their win­dows as he watched TV.  I was with Ed Corsetti (best crime reporter of his era) and we had no idea about the crash.  We left the inter­view and turned on the AM radio to hear about it.  It hap­pened just before noon.

Gene Dixon once again was on the inci­dent and he told the story of being on the Boston Com­mons with other pho­tog­ra­phers and hear­ing the Boston Globe desk call­ing their pho­tog­ra­pher on their two-way radio telling him about the crash.  Gene left imme­di­ately raced to Logan, got through the gate and took a cou­ple of quick pho­tos and left so he could make our evening paper’s noon­ish dead­line.  As he told it, he raced to the scene, took a few pho­tos and raced back to the paper. As he was dri­ving through the Dewey Square Tun­nel (now the Lib­erty Tun­nel) the trans­mis­sion on his car gave out.  He jumped out of his car and hoofed it the rest of the way, prob­a­bly about a mile, but he got in on time to grab Page One of the paper.  He got a hun­dred dol­lar bonus and it cost him about a thou­sand dol­lars for the repair. The money really did not mat­ter as it gave him some­thing to joke about on such an awful story.

There was one sur­vivor; a sol­dier by the name of Leopold Chi­nard from the Portsmouth, New Hamp­shire area.  He died sev­eral months later as he was burned over most of his body.  Kevin Cole was also at the scene and had some great images of a ter­ri­ble crash. I got stuck tak­ing pho­tos of fam­i­lies lin­ing up out­side the South End Morgue to view the bod­ies for identification.

The night the infa­mous World Air­lines Plane skid­ded off the run­away after an ice storm Gene Dixon was once again the first one there, raced out on the run­way and got a great Page One photo.  I was home in Roslin­dale tak­ing a nap about 6:30 PM with the radios blar­ing in the back­ground and I must have been count­ing the box as I remem­ber lying there and say­ing to myself 612 and jumped out of bed and started head­ing for Logan.   It was very slip­pery going and when I came down the ramp to the Tun­nel I skid­ded over a lane or two before I made my entrance. By the time I got there I only went to the gate the plane was assigned to. I pho­tographed the pas­sen­gers as they came back to the gate via a bus.

There are two inci­dents that I was per­son­ally involved in and one of them was a Sat­ur­day in the late ‘70s. It was about 11am and I had just walked out of the photo depart­ment office to go to the news­room when Tom Sul­li­van, the City Edi­tor came run­ning down yelling “every­one out, every­one out there is a plane crash at Logan!”  I took off run­ning down the stairs and rac­ing to the scene. I was really mov­ing and almost missed the ramp to the Xway North to take me to the Tun­nel and Logan. In those days all there was block­ing us from the run­ways at the South Gate was a sign and a guard. My friend from Chan­nel Seven, Richie Suskin, and I arrived at the same time after rac­ing to the scene.  We whizzed past him so fast we must have made his head spin.

FYI, if you did that now a days you would hit a bar­ri­cade and if you made it through that some­one would prob­a­bly shoot you. 

We raced out to where a cargo plane was burn­ing, try­ing to keep up with the fire appa­ra­tus rac­ing to the scene.  No one was both­er­ing us, as every­one was too busy try­ing to save lives. When we got there, I watched Richie go to one side of the crash, being pur­sued by a State Trooper who was at the scene.  I took many pho­tos as the access was great, then got back in my car and fol­lowed an ambu­lance out since I knew they were in con­tact with the tower mak­ing it safe to cross the run­ways.  All the other pho­tog­ra­phers were even­tu­ally brought out there by a Mass Port bus.

There is one more run­way expe­ri­ence I remem­ber very well. It was a week­day and box 612 was struck. All the media raced to the south gate to wait for the Mass Port bus. The bus would take us out to where there was a plane on the end of the run­way. A plane had an engine fire and had aborted take off.

I knew my good friend Billy Noo­nan, a Boston Fire­fighter, was work­ing and since he was the pho­tog­ra­pher with the arson squad he would be going to the scene. I said to a cou­ple of the pho­tog­ra­phers, “In a few min­utes there will be a lit­tle red car with its red lights on com­ing to this gate and I will be get­ting in it.” They just laughed at me.  Next thing they saw was me with my thumb out and the car stop­ping and tak­ing me to the scene.  I got a really good photo show­ing the Mass Port lad­der up, the plane with the escape slides deployed and the city of Boston in the back­ground.  It was a great photo of the incident.

A while later the bus with the rest of the pho­tog­ra­phers showed up.  Every­one started tak­ing pho­tos but by then the lad­der had been taken down and it was just a plane on the run­way. Dick Hur­witz the AP Chief Pho­tog­ra­pher saw me and thought I had come on the sec­ond bus and was glee­ful to tell me how happy he was to have got­ten there before me.  I laughed and said to him “take a look at tomorrow’s paper and remem­ber what you just said.” I kicked butt with my photo.

FYI, recently the fam­ily of Delvonte Tins­dale filed suit against Char­lotte, Charlotte-Douglas Inter­na­tional Air­port and US Airways. 

 

Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
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