First Proven Case of Air Sabotage
A Boeing 247 operated by United Airlines and registered as NC13304 was destroyed in midflight by a nitroglycerin bomb over Chesterton, Indiana, on October 10, 1933.
The flight, carrying three crew and seven passengers, originated in Cleveland and was destined for Chicago. All aboard died in the crash.
This is thought to be the first proven act of air sabotage in the history of commercial aviation. No suspect has ever been identified or charged in this incident.
On October 10, 1933, a Boeing 247 propliner operated by United Air Lines and registered as NC13304, crashed near Chesterton, Indiana. The transcontinental flight, carrying three crew and four passengers, had originated in Newark, New Jersey, with its final destination in Oakland, California. It had already landed in Cleveland and was headed to its next stop in Chicago, but exploded en route. All aboard died in the crash, which was proven to have been deliberately caused by an on-board explosive device.
At 8:46 p. m. the ground station at Chicago heard the pilot's laconic "Okay.". . . A few minutes later country folk near Chesterton, Ind., 50 mi. southeast of Chicago, were frightened by a terrific explosion overhead. They ran from their houses to see No. 23 gyrating crazily in the sky. its tail broken off. With its cabin lights ablaze, the plane spun to earth, whipped off the tops of a clump of trees, crashed on its back with another earsplitting blast. Towering flames did the rest. Investigators soon discovered this was no ordinary crash. A good ship, flown in good weather by a company which had lost no passenger in six years and 40 million miles of multi-motored flying, does not simply collapse. Engines had not failed. Fuel tanks had not exploded. There was no fire in the air. The investigators found several curious points of evidence: The baggage compartment and toilet had been smashed to smithereens. The inside of the toilet door was pockmarked with bits of metal; the other side was unscathed.
A Boeing 247 operated by United Airlines and registered as NC13304 crashed near Chesterton, Indiana, on October 10, 1933. The flight, carrying three crew and four passengers, originated in Newark, New Jersey. It had landed in Cleveland and was headed to Chicago, but exploded en route to its final destination of Oakland, California. All aboard died in the crash.
Eyewitnesses on the ground reported hearing an explosion at about 9:15 p.m., and told of seeing the plane in flames at an altitude of about 1,000 feet. A second explosion followed after the plane crashed.