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The forward section of SAS Flight 933 floats in dark, rainswept seas off the Southern California coast, a life raft tethered to the right wing. This image was The Times' Page One lead photo on Jan. 15, 1969.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry / Los Angeles Times

Surviving passengers and crew members are helped by rescue workers to ambulances waiting at Marina del Rey. The Point Judith was one of five Coast Guard cutters, private boats and helicopters that rushed to the scene. L.A. Times photographer Joe Kennedy was able to get this image on deadline and rush the film back to the paper. It was on Page One the morning of Jan. 14.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Joe Kennedy / Los Angeles Times

Crash survivor Azalee Supple,at Santa Monica Hospital after she and her husband, David Supple, were rescued. "My wife was a real heroine," David Supple said. "She helped get children and other passengers out on the wing." This photo appeared on Page Three of the Jan. 15, 1969, Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Steve Fontanini / Los Angeles Times

Survivor Johan Almkvist of Stockholm at Santa Monica Hospital. This photo appeared in the Times on Jan. 15, 1969.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Steve Fontanini / Los Angeles Times

A tugboat tows the forward section of the SAS DC-8 toward the beach at Malibu. At bottom, a Coast Guard cutter monitors the operation from a distance.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: R.L. Oliver / Los Angeles Times

The day after the crash, the SAS airliner was still afloat. This image by Times photographer Art Rogers was published on Jan. 15, 1969.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times

The recovered section of the SAS DC-3 sits upside down on a barge at Long Beach Naval Ship Yard.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: R.L. Oliver / Los Angeles Times

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SAS jetliner crashes off L.A. coast, 1969

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Jan. 13, 1969: Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) Flight 933 crashed about six miles offshore in Santa Monica Bay while on approach to Los Angeles International Airport. Fifteen passengers and crew were killed and 30 survive.

The McDonnell Douglas DC-8 aircraft broke into three pieces. Two of the pieces sank. The forward section, including cockpit and wings, stayed afloat for almost a day.

The crash at 7:22 p.m. forced all local news outlets to scramble. Los Angeles Times staffers rushed to the scene, including photographer George Fry.

Tipped off by one of his contacts, Fry managed to get a ride aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Point Bridge based at Marina del Rey.

“It was a hell of a storm,” says Fry, “It was quite a ride out to the crash scene.”

The Point Bridge arrived an hour after the crash, pushing very near to the floating wreckage. Fry was able to shoot this image with a strobe equipped Rolleiflex on 120 film.

“The stobe made the picture,” Fry said.” I knew what the flash would do [in the rain].”

Then the Point Bridge began search operations. “I was stuck on the bridge for several hours.” said Fry, “and I was on deadline.”

Once back ashore, Fry found Times photographer Jack Gaunt was also on board.

“I never saw him and he never saw me,” says Fry. “It was one hell of a storm.”

Fry’s image of the floating aircraft wreckage did not make the Jan. 14, L.A. Times morning editions, but it was Page One lead art for the Jan. 15 paper. In fact most of the images in the above seven-photo gallery were published in the Jan. 15 edition.

Five days later, United Airlines Flight 266 — a Boeing 727 — crashed into the ocean on takeoff from LAX. All 38 on board were killed.

1 Comment

  1. March 17, 2014, 10:11 pm

    I worked for United Airlines that year at LAX. Was a sad period indeed. The DC-8 gear was down and locked. Three heads down looking at a light bulb and no one flying the airplane. ………………………………………………The B-727 was all unavoidable. I offered to replace the number three CSD that was illegally flying around deferred for over 50 hours. A criminal act by UAL. I have all the details being I was the A & P that received the airplane when it arrived. Supervision over road my write up and was sending it back to Denver. I had plenty of time to replace that CSD. On takeoff the number one engine fire alarm rang out. They shut it down. Number two Generator was unable to handle all the load so it tripped off. They hit the water at some 400 MPH. :(


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