Friday, April 22, 2011


I said in my first post that I'd been working on VANISHED for going on seven years.  Actually, it's been more like seven and a half years:   I first saw the "old photograph" of the woman kneeling at the TWA mass grave in Flagstaff that started me on the path to writing this book in November of 2003.

In those seven and a half years I've learned more about the 1956 Grand Canyon air disaster and its victims than I ever would have thought possible back in '03.  But I still have a lot of unanswered questions.

The answers to some of them died with the passengers and crew members of TWA 2 and UAL 718.  But the answers to others may still be "out there", waiting to be revealed ... maybe by some of you.

Here are some of the questions I'd most love to learn the answers to:

  1. Are there any surviving photographs of the Mainliner Vancouver (UAL DC-7, N6324C)?
  2. Are there any photographs of the aircraft / passengers / crew members taken at LAX on the morning of June 30, 1956?  Or for that matter, any photographs / post cards / letters / etc. relating to the crash victims dating from shortly before the crash?
  3. Who was the TWA employee named "Miller" on whose TWA pass crash victim Robert Ernest Sanders was traveling?
  4. Are there any surviving copies of any of the television / newsreel / radio reports about the crash?
  5. Who was the lady who reported seeing smoke in the Canyon from the Desert Watchtower on the afternoon of June 30, 1956?
  6. Was there really a young Navajo girl ("Yazzie Gray Eyes") who also reported seeing smoke in the Canyon that day?
  7. Are there any surviving copies of the July 1, 1956 Extra edition of the Flagstaff newspaper?
  8. What was the source of the "Ancient Indian Legend" regarding a protective spirit in the Canyon referred to in the Los Angeles Times on July 3, 1956?
  9. Whatever happened to the fund Arizona Governor McFarland established to build a memorial to the crash victims at the Grand Canyon?
  10. Did "Mary and Robert Hickman" (the alleged 129th and 130th victims of the crash) really exist?  Were they really on board one of the aircraft involved in the mid-air?  If so, who was the pilot / relative of theirs who brought them aboard?  Whatever happened to "Mrs. Annie S. Hickman", the person who reported that they had died in the crash?
  11. Were there seat assignments on either / both aircraft?  Former airline employees I've spoken with believe it unlikely that there was assigned seating on either flight ... but obtaining a copy of the victims' seat assignments, if they existed, would be something like my personal Holy Grail of crash-related research (I'd LOVE to know who sat where on each plane, and who sat next to whom).
  12. Does anyone have photographs of (or more info about) the following crash victims?
    • John A. Barry (TWA passenger)
    • Staff Sgt. Robert Vernon Beatty (TWA passenger)
    • Rosemary Ferry Bishop (TWA passenger)
    • Stephen Bishop (TWA passenger), Rosemary's infant son
    • Gertrude Agnes Coyne Book (UAL 718 passenger)
    • Milton Barry Carlton  (UAL 718 passenger)
    • Carol Jean Church (UAL 718 passenger), age 6; traveling with her grandfather, Albert Vogt
    • Frank H. Clark (UAL 718 passenger)
    • Leon David Cook, Jr. (UAL 718 passenger)
    • Chester Arnold Crewse (TWA passenger)
    • Helen Colleen Crewse (TWA passenger), Chester's 15-year-old daughter
    • Selma Louise Davis (TWA passenger)
    • Robert Earle DeLonge (TWA passenger)
    • Elizabeth Francis Doering (UAL passenger)
    • Lt. Thomas W. Doyle (UAL passenger)
    • Almeda Inez (Babb) Evans (TWA passenger)
    • Donald Lloyd Flentie (TWA passenger)
    • Stella Blum Fuchs (UAL passenger)
    • Walter M. Fuchs (UAL passenger), husband of Stella
    • Janice Tracy Haas (TWA passenger)
    • James K. Hadfield (UAL passenger)
    • Lillian Ruth Hahn (UAL passenger)
    • Mary Hickman (alleged TWA or UAL passenger)
    • Robert Hickman (alleged TWA or UAL passenger)
    •  Eugene B. Hoffman (UAL passenger)
    • Harry Robinson Holman (TWA passenger) - supposedly "knew the pilot" - which one?
    • Russell Charles Huber (UAL passenger)
    • Wayne Gardner Jeffrey (TWA passenger)
    • Francis Robert Johlie III (UAL passenger)
    • Sidney Roland Joslin (TWA passenger)
    • Donald F. Kiel (UAL passenger)
    • Ted M. Kubiniec (UAL passenger)
    • Ray Oliver Lasby (UAL passenger)
    • Sally Lou Laughlin (UAL passenger)
    • Lois Marie Laxton (TWA passenger)
    • Michael Anthony Laxton (TWA passenger), 4-year-old son of Lois
    • Howard John Maag (TWA passenger), infant son of crash victims John & Claire Maag
    • William H. Markey, Jr. (TWA passenger) - brother of crash investigator W. Dixon Markey
    •  Carl G. Matland (UAL passenger)
    • John J. Muldoon (UAL passenger)
    • Gerald Murchison (UAL passenger)
    • Dwight B. Nims (UAL passenger)
    • Floyd A. Nixon (UAL passenger)
    • Marietta Thompson Noel (TWA passenger), wife of crash victim Richard Curtis Noel
    • Elsie W. Osterbock (UAL passenger)
    • Commander John Walker Payne, USN, Ret. (TWA passenger)
    • Hugo Pekruhn (UAL passenger)
    • Neal Alan Power (TWA passenger)
    • David Karn Robinson (TWA passenger), 11-year-old son of Jeannette
    • Geoffrey Brian Robinson (TWA passenger), 8-year-old son of Jeannette
    • Jeannette Karn Robinson (TWA passenger)
    • Alexander Eugene Rosenblatt (UAL passenger)
    • Esther Fair Sharp (TWA passenger) - corresponding secretary for the NAACP
    • Russell A. Shields, Jr. (UAL passenger)
    • Thomas J. Sulpizio (UAL passenger)
    • Donald L. Winings (UAL passenger)
That's it for tonight; I work tomorrow and Sunday.  Happy Easter, everybody!


  1. Am very suprised to find this site. I just decided to google my dad's name (he was a passenger on one of these flights).
    I was only 4 1/2 yrs old when he was killed. My mother (his wife is alive at nearly 94yrs old).I will share this site with my brother and sister.
    Kathleen R Natale (Lasby)

    1. Kathy,

      Grand Canyon National Park wants to contact family members regarding National Historic Landmark status for the crash site. I'm a volunteer, helping the park find family members. Would you and your brother, sister and mother if she's still living like to provide your contact information? Let me know. My email is
      Karen Greig

  2. I do have some photos of Almeda Babb Evans on Find A Grave Memorial# 63841698. She on one of the few with a body intact enough to be sent home for burial.

  3. I have some articles and a photograph of Milton Barry Carlton from The Springfield Independent (Springfield, VA) from about a year or two prior to the crash. He was elected the 2nd President of The Springfield Civic Assoc. and the article on that has his photo and a small bio on him. I have forwarded this to your email. Please check your spam folder to make sure it didn't go there. I will have more to add for him once I know you have received the articles I attached to the email. Thank you for what you are doing to honor those lost.
    Robyn Carter
    Springfield Historian