Pan Am Flight 759 Crashes in Kenner
July 9, 1982
Times-Picayune Graphic by Dan Swenson
Pan Am Flight 759,
operated by a Boeing 727-235, N4737 Clipper Defiance, was a regularly scheduled passenger flight from Miami to San Diego,
with en route stops in New Orleans and Las Vegas. On July 9, 1982, the plane that made this route was forced down by a microburst
and crashed into the New Orleans suburb of Kenner. All 145 people on board, as well as 8 more on the ground, were killed.
The crash had the highest number of aviation fatalities in 1982, and as of 2013 remains the fifth-deadliest air disaster to
occur in United States territory.
The aircraft, a Boeing 727–200, construction number 19457/518,
built in 1967, was delivered to National Airlines on January 31, 1968. The aircraft name was 37 Susan/Erica and was registered
as N4737, and remained part of the National fleet until the merger with Pan Am where it was renamed as Clipper Defiance. On
afternoon of the accident, the aircraft was carrying 137 passengers and one non-revenue passenger in the cockpit jumpseat,
along with a crew of seven. The captain was Kenneth McCullers.
Flight 759 began its takeoff from
Runway 10 at the New Orleans International Airport (now Louis Armstrong New Orleans International), in Kenner at 4:07:57
PM central daylight time, bound for Las Vegas, Nevada. At the time of Flight 759's takeoff, there were thunderstorms over
the east end of the airport. The winds were gusty and swirling. Flight 759 lifted off the runway, climbed to an altitude of
between 95 and 150 feet, and then began to descend. About 2,376 feet from the end of runway, the aircraft struck a line
of trees at an altitude of about 50 feet. The aircraft continued descending for another 2,234 feet, hitting trees and houses
before crashing in the residential area about 4,610 feet from the end of the runway.
was destroyed during the impact, explosion, and subsequent ground fire. A total of 153 people were killed (all 145 passengers
and crew on board and 8 on the ground). Another 4 people on the ground sustained injuries. In one of the destroyed houses,
a baby was discovered in a crib covered with debris that protected her from the flames. Six houses were destroyed; five houses
were damaged substantially.
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause
of the accident was the aircraft's encounter with a microburst-induced wind shear during the liftoff, which imposed a downdraft
and a decreasing headwind, the effects of which the pilot would have had difficulty recognizing and reacting to in time for
the aircraft's descent to be stopped before its impact with trees. Contributing to the accident was the limited capability
of then-current wind shear detection technology; this, along with the similar crash of Delta Air Lines Flight 191 three
years later led to the development of the airborne wind shear detection and alert system and the mandate by the U.S. Federal
Aviation Administration have on-board windshear detection systems installed by 1993.
A memorial to the
crash victims is located at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Kenner. (WIKI)
The current I-10 Twin Span Bridge was constructed after the original bridges were extensively damaged
by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The first of the new spans opened to eastbound traffic on July 9, 2009. On
April 7, 2010, the second span was opened to traffic and the old twin spans were permanently closed to traffic. The approaches
to the westbound lanes were completed with a ribbon cutting ceremony on September 8, 2011 and the opening of all 6 lanes the
following morning. (WIKI)
Jazz trumpeter, composer, singer, and bandleader Wingy Manone was born in New Orleans on February
13, 1900. He died on July 9, 1982 in Las Vegas. Manone was born Joseph Matthews Mannone in New
Orleans, Louisiana. He lost an arm in a streetcar accident, which resulted in his nickname of "Wingy". He used a
prosthesis, so naturally and unnoticeably that his disability was not apparent to the public. (WIKI)
The New Orleans Cotton Exchange, founded, February 11, 1871 ceased trading on July 9,
1964. Its constitution, adopted on January 24, 1871 stated the organization's purposes as: ...to provide
and maintain suitable rooms for a "Cotton Exchange" in the City of New Orleans; to adjust controversies between
members; to establish just and equitable principles, uniform usages, rules and regulations, and standards for classification,
which shall govern all transactions connected with the cotton trade: to acquire, preserve and disseminate information connected
therewith; to decrease the risks incident thereto; and generally to promote the interests of the trade, and increase the facilities
and the amount of the cotton business in the City of New Orleans. To further these goals, the Exchange had, in
addition to its board of directors and officers, several committees, each devoted to a particular aspect of the institution's
overall activities. These committees dealt with membership, information & statistics, trade, classification & quotations,
finance, credits, and books. By the early 1960s the Exchange was suffering from the decline in volume in trading of cotton
futures. This, coupled with changes in the regulation of trading by the federal government, led to closure of the institution
on July 9, 1964. An effort to revive the business as the New Orleans Cotton and Commodity Exchange in the mid-1970s did not
succeed. The Cotton Exchange occupied three successive buildings at the corner of Carondelet and Gravier Streets in the New
Orleans Central Business District. While the last of these structures, built in 1920, remains standing and is known as the
Cotton Exchange Building, it passed out of the hands of the Exchange in 1962. (NOPL)
NOPL photo -- Tug-of-war competition from the July 9, 1944 edition of the Times-Picayune, pre-dating the 1947 establishment of NORD.
In late April, 1922, the Mississippi River broke through the levee in front of the Poydras plantation
in St. Bernard Parish, flooding large portions of the parish. For the most part, the levees held the river back that year,
but there were breaks at Myrtle Grove and Ferriday as well as at Poydras. The Poydras crevasse eventually reached a width
of 1500 feet--so wide that cars had to be ferried across the break. Here we see an automobile being towed off of a temporary
ferry over break in levee at the St. Bernard Crevasse, July 9, 1922. (NOPL)
A Fly Swatting Contest? Odd as it sounds, this contest was conceived by Playgrounds Commission President
Mrs. A.J. Stallings and involved 32 children, both white and African American, who, among them, exterminated 4,474,750 flies
during a three week period in June and July. The first place winners received $10, and the second and third
place winners got $5 -- pretty good cash for kids in 1912! (NOPL)
In 1907 the New Orleans Playgrounds Commission operated many play areas but only one segregated playground
for African-American children -- the Thomy Lafon Playground at Magnolia and Sixth, which opened on July 9, 1907.
The Town of Metairie Ridge
Metairie residents lobbied to remove the gambling houses which came before them from their new upscale neighborhoods. C. P.
Aicklen, co-owner of Borden-Aicklen Auto Supply Company was selected as chairman of the anti-gambling Metropolitan Municipal
League which circulated a petition for incorporation as a town disassociated from Jefferson Parish government officials who
flagrantly turned a blind eye to gambling and liquor laws.
The boundaries of the new town would be
Shrewsbury Road, the Illinois-Central Rail Road tracks, the Bonnabel Canal, and the Orleans Parish line. This would include
the Beverly Gardens, Metairie Inn, Victory Inn, Tranchina Night Club, the Metairie Kennel Club, and the DeLimon dog track
– these contributed the vast majority of taxes collected in the area. Incorporation as a town would allow more tax revenue
for municipal improvements, which made the prospect a double-edged sword regarding pro and anti-gambling interests.
Although 7,500 people lived in the district only some 900 were registered voters whose signatures could carry
weight on the petition which required a two-thirds majority. 500 voters purportedly signed the petition for a city/town charter.
Governor Henry L. Fuqua received the petition and approved it in 1926. The new town of Metairie Ridge,
Louisiana would be headed by Aicklen as mayor, W. J. Dwyers as marshall, F. W. Bogel as clerk, and E. Howard McCaleb as city
attorney. The first ordinance adopted by Mayor Aicklen and endorsed by new Governor O. H. Simpson created the City of Metairie
on July 9, 1927. Aicklen announced that he would shut down gambling houses by working with the new municipal
On November 26, 1928 the Supreme Court of Louisiana decided that the City of Metairie Ridge
had been illegally incorporated because not enough signatures were included on the petition. Jefferson Parish District Attorney
Archie T. Higgens and Judge L. Robert Rivarde along with pro-gambling factions had prevailed. In December 1928 the city was
dissolved and gambling remained active although largest operations moved to Jefferson Highway and River Road. In January 1929
taxes collected by the now defunct city, amounting to $22,00, were turned over to Jefferson Parish. #036llm
Margaret Statue is Dedicated
July 9, 1884
On November 20, 1835
a young Irish-born woman, her husband, and young daughter arrived in New Orleans on
the ship Hyperion. They had left their home in Baltimore because they were advised that his health might improve in
the southern climate. He died shortly thereafter and, within months of his death, the beloved baby girl also died.
Margaret Haughery was a 23 year-old illiterate, uneducated, penniless, childless widow in a city she barely knew. Her
life had been touched by great loss before. At the age of nine her parents died of yellow fever in Baltimore.
She is often quoted as saying, 'My God! Thou hast broken every tie: Thou hast stripped me of all. Again I am all alone'
She began working in the laundry of the St. Charles Hotel and was touched by the plight of orphan
children she could see on the streets through the window while she ironed all day, everyday. She vowed to help the Sisters
of Charity in their efforts to care them. She not only applied her meager savings and sparse spare-time to their care,
but also collected clothing and furniture, and begged for food and cash donations from nearby businesses and restaurants.
In 1936 Margaret moved in with the nuns at Poydras Asylum and purchased and cared for two cows who provided milk for the children.
She went into the streets, with a cart, to sell and deliver any milk not needed by the children. Her industriousness
and hard work resulted in a successful commercial dairy which owned about 40 cows. In 1841, she moved with the nuns
to open the New Orleans Female Asylum on New Levee Street, now Convention Center Boulevard. (Photo on the left -- circa
1842 Portrait of Margaret with Two Orphans by Jasques Amans, New Orleans)
In 1880, she acquired a bakery at 70 through 78 New Levee Street which grew into one of the largest in the city. As
before, the first products went to the orphans, the rest was sold. Working in partnership with the Sisters of Charity, Margaret
fed not only orphans but the city's needy adults. She generously supported St. Theresa's Asylum, St. Elizabeth's Asylum,
St. Vincent's Infant Asylum and other similar institutions. It has been estimated that, while living, she donated about $600,000
to charitable endeavors. In addition, she personally cared for yellow fever victims, widows, and Confederate Veterans.
Upon her death, on February 9, 1882, she bequeathed most of her $50,000 estate to the
poor of New Orleans. Participants of her funeral ceremonies included Archbishop Napoléon-Joseph Perché,
13 priests, Mayor Benjamin Flanders, Lieutenant Governors George L. Walton and W.A.
Robertson. Thousands, including prominent politicians, businessmen, and other members of the clergy, attended her funeral.
As did the orphans and their caregivers. The people of New Orleans lined the streets to mourn the passing of her remains
to St. Patrick's Church and St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 (her remains were later moved to St. Louis No. 3).
She became known, during her lifetime, as “The Bread Woman of New Orleans". A century and a quarter later,
we know her as simply "Margaret" and are reminded of her life devoted to children by the statue at Margaret Park
in front of the old orphanage. The story of the building of the statue attests to how beloved she was by so many. Almost immediately
after her death an executive committee was formed, and headed by George Horter, to raise funds for a memorial. Rich
and poor contributed and the $6000 needed to make it a reality was soon collected. Alexander Doyle, who was working
on the Robert E. Lee statue for Lee Circle, was commissioned to design Margaret's statue. His model was sent to Italy,
where the monument was carved in fine Carrara marble. In keeping with Margaret's frugal personal lifestyle, Doyle portrayed
her sitting in her favorite plain wooden chair, clothed in a simple dress and shawl. Her left arm is draped lovingly
around a young boy whose face reflects his love for her. Those who knew her, were astounded by its likeness.
statue was shipped from Carrara, Italy on April 24, 1884. In May, the city pondered its fate as the
ship Castalla, which was thought to have transported it, ran aground off the coast and was forced to throw over part
of its cargo to become afloat again. It was more likely transported on the steamer Italia, from Livorno on
May 6 of that year. Two sections of the seven-foor pedestal had already arrived in New Orleans.
monument was placed on a triangular plot of land (adjacent to the Louise Home for girls) which had been a dumping ground but
was cleaned up and planted with flowers and grass. It is surrounded by Calliope, Camp, Erato and Pryatania streets and
is named for her -- Margaret Place. At its dedication, on July 9, 1884, children from every orphanage
attended. Governor Francis T. Nicholls was the principal speaker. Notables and humble people from throughout town
gathered, as did Mayor J. Valsin Guillotte and members of the city council. The statue bears one word only, her
The statue is often said to be the first dedicated in the memory of a woman
built in the United States. It is, in fact the first built by popular subscription. A public monument (built with tax dollars
) honoring Hannah Duston, who fought an Indian attack in 1697 was erected in Haverhill, Massachusetts in 1861. A second
monument to her was erected in 1874 on the island in Boscawen, New Hampshire where she killed her captors.
Thirteen years later, on October 8, 1895, Margaret's memory was still dear to New Orleanians. When a fireworks
show titled "Last Days of Pompeii" was held at Athletic Park (Canal at St. Patrick streets) it included "a
fine portrait of the Margaret Statue in lines of colored fire" -- 30 feet by 25 feet in size. Eighteen years after her
death, from May 24 to May 26, an orphan fund raiser offered a prize for the best recreation of the Margaret Statue created
with flowers and flags.
In August 1912 vandals broke the index finger from the right hand of the
statue, creating public outrage. But it was not until June 1925 that the Committee of Public Property, headed by John Klorer,
authorized stonecutter W. E. Martel to repair the damage. The Margaret Park Commission had requested the repair and were planning
to beautify the park, again. When Albert Sidney Conner, the boy who had posed for the statue as a three-year old, died
on November 30, 1913 at the age of 31, the news of his passing was noted.
In 1936 the statue was
cleaned after a campaign was held to raise funds. During the late 1960s a public school was named for Margaret. It served
pregnant teenagers who were not allowed to attend their home schools. When the Pontchartrain Expressway was built, an on-ramp
hid Margaret Place from much public view. From the early 1960s through the mid 1970s, Margaret Day was observed at the
park on the anniversary of Margaret's death. By the mid 70s, the neighborhood had fallen into deep disrepair and the
statue was surrounded by a tall fence topped with barbed wire. In 1988 the Margaret Place Restoration Project, in partnership
with the Parkway and Parks Commission raised funds for its restoration. In the 1990s, following removal of the Camp
Street expressway ramp, the Parkway Partners along with the Coliseum Square Association refurbished the statue. (Photo