On December 16th, 1960 a Trans World Airlines Lockheed Super Constellation collided midair over Brooklyn with a United Airlines Douglas DC-8. The T.W.A. flight – a slow moving propeller plane – was heading from Columbus, Ohio en route to LaGuardia. The other plane, a much more advanced jetliner, was destined for Idlewild airport (JFK) with 77 passengers from Chicago. Had he not been running late and missed the flight, passenger #78 on United 826 would have been Sir Edmund Hillary. All together, the crash killed 134 people, being one of the worst air disasters at the time. It is a fascinating story that was highlighted extremely well on the NY Times City Room blog.
One of the many new things I learned from the coverage in the Times, was that in addition to being skilled aviator, T.W.A. co-pilot Dean Bowen was also a talented photographer. Through his travels he used Kodachrome to document life as he saw it. A commenter in one of the NYT posts pointed readers to a Flickr set of Bowen’s images – truly wonderful stuff. It’s a terrible thing that happened over Park Slope 50 years ago, but some solace can be found in Mr. Bowen’s images live on in all of their color and amazement.