The Seattle Air Charter plane was carrying 27 Yale students back to Connecticut after visits to their Northwest homes over the holidays. The weather at Boeing Field was cold and foggy and below visual minimums for safety. Although two flights had recently departed, United Airlines cancelled its remaining flights for the night. Although ice on the wings of the twin-engine DC-3 was treated with alcohol, pilot Emmett G. Flood, refused to fly the plane. Another pilot took his place, but witnesses reported that owner William J. Leland was at the controls.
At approximately 10:05 p.m., families and friends watched from the airport administration building as the plane took off and then veered right. The plane crashed into a Boeing hanger and burst into flames. Two Boeing mechanics on duty nearby assisted in rescuing survivors.
Those killed were:
- William J. Leland, owner of Seattle Air Charter
- George William Chavers, 33, pilot
- Kenneth Love, 38, co-pilot
- Noel Brown, 18, Seattle
- Harry C. Franzheim, 19, Seattle
- Osbjorn George Reese, 24, Seattle
- Wallace Hartley, Mercer Island
- Leonard Wickman, Bellevue
- Russell Palmer, 27, Vancouver, Washington
- Ralph D. Laird, Camas
- David Bruce Hearles, Portland
- James L. Bryan, Portland
- Don Lee Garrett, 20, Portland
The accident was apparently caused by ice on the wings.