How the press captured the historic moment

The day death came from the sky

Press accounts from December, 1960, detailed the horror of the crash, still indelibly imprinted on the minds of anyone who experienced it. Here are some synopses:

“Brooklyn never looked more drab. The tenements, the brownstones, the faded red brick fronts merged in a grey-white blur. It was snowing again and people grumbled about the weather.

Coming so soon after Monday’s blizzard, another snow seemed about the worst thing that could happen.

It wasn’t.”

Associated Press

“A broken and torn DC-8 jet, which had been United Air Lines’ proud Flight 826, bound for Idlewild from Chicago with 84 people, fell out of the sky into Brooklyn. Part of the jet cut through the roof of one house. Engines, fuselage, cargo, bodies cascaded with thundering crunches onto the street; rivulets of jet fuel skittered and splashed crazily and ignited into billows of flame, which in turn touched off the gasoline tanks of parked cars.”

Time magazine

“The scene in Brooklyn, where one plane fell in a densely populated district, reminded one witness of the bombed and burning villages of the Korean War.”

New York Times

“ ‘I first thought it was a missile,’ said Father Raymond Morgan of St. Augustine Church. ‘It was a terrible sight. I ran back into the church and got the holy oil. I saw six bodies burning in the wreck, then there were explosions and I was driven back by a sheet of flame.’ ”

Ottawa Citizen