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TWA Flight 529 Plane Crash Memorial

Remembering one of the deadliest passenger jet crashes in US history

Friends and Family Members to Join in on the Occasion Whose Cause Was Attributed to a Missing Bolt

September 1, 2021 2:04 pm.

Prairie Trail Park, Willowbrook, IL

A memorial will be held on Wednesday September 1st to mark the 60th anniversary of the crash of TWA Flight 529. The ceremony will take place at the site of the new permanent memorial that has just been finished at Prairie Trail Park in Willowbrook, IL.

In 1961, this crash had been ranked the deadliest aircraft accident in the nation’s history. The crash killed all 73 passengers and the 5 crew members on board.

The plane, a TWA Lockheed L-049 Constellation, had originated from Boston before making stops in New York, Pittsburgh, and then Chicago-Midway. It was bound for Las Vegas before its final destination in Los Angeles.

Just after takeoff and 11 miles west of Midway Airport TWA Flight 529 crashed in an open field in what is now known as Willowbrook. The open field is encompassed between 59th and 61st Streets to the north and south, and Bentley Ave and Clarendon Hills Road to the east and west.

The Civil Aeronautics Board who investigated the accident concluded that the probable cause was the loss of a 5/16th inch bolt which was missing from the linkage of the elevator boost mechanism.

After the crash many stories came out about some of the passengers and crew. A few of the noteworthy recounts are:

TWA Hostess Barbara Pearson – Was planning on resigning after this flight to devote her time to motherhood. She was pregnant and expecting a child TWA Hostess Nanette Fidger – Had only been employed by TWA since May of 1961. She had one more flight to complete then she was going to be getting married.

Two local serviceman US Navy man John Kilroy and US Marine Terry Lee Jones where returning to California after completing leaves at home.

Francis Gilliam was looking forward to returning to her husband in California after visiting her parents in Massachusetts with her four children.

Richard and Florence Maloney and their five children had been visiting family in Philadelphia before returning home to California on the fateful flight.

Edward Chamberlain and his wife Nancy along with their four children were on their way home to California after a family vacation in Europe.

September 1st 2021 has been declared Trans World Airlines Flight 529 Memorial Day by the State of Illinois.

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