Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Air Error

August 10, 1947
Los Angeles

Ladera Park was filled with picnickers, friends and families enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon. One group was comprised of co-workers from Douglas Aircraft. Among them, George Porter, 33, of 531 Richmond Street, El Segundo. Porter decided to leave the party, but not entirely—he returned to Ladera Park later in the afternoon in his two-seater plane and buzzed the ampitheatre down at tree-top level. Three times he circled the bowl, terrorizing those on the ground. Recreation Director George T. Blair squinted at the craft to get the numbers so he could report the reckless pilot. But there was no need: on the fourth go-round, one wing hit a branch and down into the ravine came George Porter and his flying death machine.

Instantly killed were Porter, Mrs. Eula Walters, 29, of 1731 West 51st Place and two-year-old Myrna Lynn Coffey, of 1135 ½ E. 68th Street. The baby was in her mother’s arms when wreckage from the plane hit them both. Also injured was Mrs. Walters’ 4-month-old, Kenneth Dale, whose baby buggy was spattered with engine oil. Mrs. Walters and Mrs. Coffey had just been on the croquet grounds, where their husbands heard the impact and raced to discover the horror.

Porter’s passenger, wife Brownie Belle Porter, survived the crash and is in fairly good condition at Harbor General, with a fractured collar bone, mild concussion, dislocated hip and possible internal injuries.

Captain Sewell Griggers of the Sheriff’s aero squad is attempting to determine from what airport Porter took off, while Vermont subdivision deputy Sheriffs James E. Christian and W.J. Grater examined the wreckage.

Suggested reading: The Illustrated History of McDonnell Douglas Aircraft : From Cloudster to Boeing

1 comment:

Larry said...

Letters to ‘The Times’

North Broadway Tunnel

In the many years I have lived in Highland Park and the Sycamore Grove district I have had occasion to drive through the N. Broadway tunnel quite frequently. I have noticed that the approach to the tunnel from the north side of the city seems to detract from the appearance of our Civic Center.

Frequent traffic accidents cause unavoidable delays that tie up the streetcars which serve the northeast side. Recently a young woman was abducted by some hoodlums while she was attempting to walk through the tunnel at night.

Why not cut back the hills on either side of the tunnel and open up this bottleneck in the uptown section of Los Angeles? The valuable business frontage that would result from this operation would much more than compensate for the cost of the improvement and our Civic Center could then be completed in a more attractive setting.

Los Angeles.

+ + +

Building contractor Robert Beryle regarded the 762-foot Broadway tunnel, excavated in 1901 through Fort Moore Hill, as his masterpiece. Another crew was building the 1,045-foot 3rd Street tunnel at the same time and an informal competition developed between the two to see which would be finished first.

In 1949, the city decided to remove Fort Moore Hill, where another Beryle building, Los Angeles High School, was located, as well as the Broadway tunnel.

Beryle died Oct. 17, 1949, at the age of 90, a few days before the arch, all that was left of the Broadway tunnel, was pulled down. In his final days, Beryle often told his family stories about the tunnel’s construction, so they kept the secret that it had been destroyed.

In 1948, The Times’ list of tunnels included:

*The Newhall tunnel, completed by the Southern Pacific in 1876 and excavated by Chinese laborers.
*The Hill Street tunnel, built by Pacific Electric in 1913.
*The 2nd Street tunnel, 1924.
*Pacific Electric Subway, 1925.
*Tunnel linking Vermont and Western Avenues in Griffith Park, 1928.
*Sepulveda Boulevard tunnel, 1930.
*Figueroa tunnels on the Arroyo Seco Parkway, 1931-1936.
*Tunnel beneath Crenshaw Center department stores, c. 1948.