Park Slope Plane Crash – Brooklyn, New York - Atlas Obscura

Park Slope Plane Crash

One of the deadliest American air disasters is nearly forgotten in Brooklyn. 


No memorial at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Sterling Place in Park Slope, Brooklyn, marks the site of the one of the worst aviation disasters in American history.

On December 16, 1960, a United Airlines Flight 826 landing from Chicago and TWA Flight 266 coming from Ohio collided in mid-air. The TWA Lockheed Super Constellation plummeted onto Staten Island and the United Douglas DC-8 plane crashed into the brownstones of Park Slope.

All of the TWA passengers were killed on impact, but no pedestrians were harmed on the ground in Staten Island. The United plane was attempting to reach LaGuardia Field, but lost control and crashed at the corner of 7th Avenue and Sterling Place.

Debris from the United plane and sections of fuselage pummeled the buildings and sidewalks in Brooklyn, one piece falling on the McCaddin Funeral Home, causing embalmed corpses to fly into the air and onto the street. The Pillar of Fire Church was engulfed in flames and the left wing of the plane slashed through the apartment building next door. In the middle of the intersection, the entire tail section fell upright. Debris included numerous wrapped Christmas presents thrown from the plane, mingled with bricks ripped from the buildings.

There was one United flight survivor: eleven-year-old Steven Baltz. Although he was taken breathing to New York Methodist Hospital, he died 26 hours later from burns and broken bones. The Phillips Chapel at the hospital has a memorial plaque including the five nickels and four dimes Baltz had in his pockets.

All 128 passengers and six people on the ground were killed in the disaster. A new condominium building stands where the plane crashed and there are small reminders of the damage at the quiet Park Slope intersection. The bricks on top of 126 Sterling are different from the rest of the building and repairs are visible on the upper floors of many buildings on Seventh Avenue.

This crash helped lead to the formation of modern air traffic control systems.


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