I recently posted several photos of a tragic aircraft collision in 1969 that left several people dead, accompanied by the following text:
A set of photographs from the tragic collision of two aircraft in 1969 near Fairland, Indiana have sat in my dad’s file cabinet in the garage throughout my entire life. I was always fascinated by them when I was a kid, and I’d occasionally show them to friends when they came over.
“My dad has a picture of a severed foot.”
“Come on, I’ll show you.”
Anyway, pardon the flippancy–I was just a kid, after all.
I never knew the story behind that crash until today, when I saw the pics while going through his old things and it occurred to me to Google it. 84 people died. It was major national news then and it’s still spoken of to this day by people who remember it.
The following pictures are presented solely for your historical edification. My dad did not take them, but I don’t know who the photographer is. It was someone he knew–a friend, perhaps. If these are your photos or those of a loved one, please let me know so that I can thank and give proper credit to whoever documented this tragic event for posterity. As you view these, think of the lives that were shattered. Think of the children left fatherless. The carnage on display in these pics alone(I have others) is staggering in its implications. Mangled bodies with severed appendages, burned beyond recognition. 84 of them. It must have been a truly awful sight to behold for those who were there. If your loved ones died in this crash, please be aware that two of these photos are extremely graphic.
I went back and took pics of the rest of the photos, in light of how big of a deal I’m finding out this crash was. One of them was stamped with the photographer’s name: Robert Brant.
From his Findagrave.com page:
He was a well known photographer and also took pictures for the Shelbyville Dem. paper, a local history buff and genealogist. He was known for sleeping in cemeteries when ever he was doing genealogy research. He served in the Navy in WWII, Shelbyville Fireman from 1945-1977 and then served as a special officer with the Shelbyville Police dept., 50 yr member of F&AM No 28 and a member of the Blue River Lions Club. and National Rifle Association and associate member of FOP. He and Helen Elizabeth Smith had 2 children that I know of John Robert Brant II, who died October 23, 1975 and Anne Elizabeth Brant.
Bob went to Monroe County, Tennessee to look up relatives of the Walker family. They lived up in the hills and when he went to their home he was greeted with shotguns. Bob explain who he was and they put the guns down and greeted him warmly.
That’s it, then. That’s how my dad knew him. From the Shelbyville Fire Department, where he(my dad)essentially began working as a firefighter at the age of sixteen.
I like the idea of something left behind by someone in the distant past resurfacing and being appreciated. This Bob guy sounds like he was a really interesting person, and I’m glad I was able to find at least some info on him. I wonder if he took these, and what the story was behind them? Maybe I’ll look into it and save that for another post:
Anyway, here are John Robert Brant’s photos of the Allegheny Airlines crash site: