61 years after Mpls. plane crash, 15 lives get honored

  • Article by: TOM MEERSMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 26, 2011 - 9:51 PM

Current and former neighbors, relatives of those who died, and others will be in south Minneapolis on Saturday when a memorial marker is unveiled.

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Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board workers, from left, Mark Hallberg, Kent Ansell and Richard Guthier positioned a memorial 2.5 ton boulder with a cast-aluminum plaque on Friday morning in Minneapolis. The worst plane crash in Minneapolis history will be remembered Saturday as a marker is dedicated for 15 victims who died when a twin-propeller plane crashed into a south Minneapolis home on March 7, 1950.

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

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The most deadly plane crash in Minneapolis history will be remembered Saturday afternoon with a marker dedication for 15 victims who died when a twin-propeller plane crashed into a south Minneapolis home on March 7, 1950.

CRIPPLED FLIGHT?

Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 307 tried to land at the Minneapolis airport in a snowstorm but on final approach to Wold-Chamberlain Field was slightly off-course. Its left wing clipped the top of the flagpole at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. The plane aborted landing and began to turn for a second attempt when its wing fell off. At 9:02 p.m. it nose-dived into a two-story stucco home at 1116 W. Minnehaha Parkway. All 10 passengers and three flight crew members died in the inferno, along with two children in the home's upstairs bedrooms.

THREE SURVIVORS

Diane Doughty, then 15, was watching a Minneapolis Lakers basketball game on television with her parents in the first-floor sunroom. The three of them escaped by diving out the windows; all suffered cuts and burns. The youngest Doughtys -- Janet, 10, and Tommy, 8 -- were among those killed.

WHY A MEMORIAL NOW?

It was Mark Kaplan's idea. The south Minneapolis resident and former City Council member said the victims never had a memorial and deserved to be remembered. Many people who lived in the neighborhood as children remember the crash and are now in their 70s and 80s. Kaplan said they won't be around in a few decades to tell their stories, so the marker will also be important to preserve local history.

THE MONEY BEHIND IT

The memorial is a cast aluminum plaque mounted on a 2.5-ton boulder. To pay for it, Kaplan raised $3,500 from individuals, including current and previous neighborhood residents, descendants of victims and others. No tax money was used, although the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board agreed to allow space for the memorial on park land across the street from the crash site.

THE CRASH SITE

The Doughty house was destroyed by the crash, and a one-story home was built later at the location. It received a new house number: 1114.

WHO WILL BE THERE?

Diane Doughty will speak, as will children and grandchildren of some passengers who died in the crash. Others invited include the pilot's wife, daughter and family, and the sister and relatives of one of the flight attendants.

WHEN AND WHERE?

The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. at Lynnhurst Park building, at 50th Street and W. Minnehaha Parkway. Attendees will walk about four blocks to the site of the new historic marker across from the house at the crash site. The unveiling will occur at 2:30 p.m., followed by a 3 p.m. reception at the park building. The event is free and open to the public.

Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388

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