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Flashback 1972: United Flight 553 crash
United Airlines Flight 553 crashed into a row of bungalows on West 70th Place, in Chicago, while approaching Midway Airport on Dec. 8, 1972, killing 43 of the 61 persons aboard, and two in a home. The plane left Washington, D.C., for Omaha and was about to make a planned stop in Chicago when the pilot was instructed by the control tower to execute a "missed approach" pattern. As he went around for another landing attempt, the plane struck tree branches and then some bungalows before plowing into the home of Veronica Kuculich. She and her daughter, Theresa, died.
Also killed in the crash was U.S. Rep. George Collins, who represented a West Side Chicago district. His death set the scene for his wife, Cardiss Collins, to take his seat in Congress. The wife of Watergate conspirator Howard Hunt was also one of the victims, and she was carrying $10,000 in cash in a briefcase. After the money was found in the debris, there was concern that it might have been linked to the financial dealings surrounding the President Richard Nixon slush fund to which defendants in the Watergate case had access. That gave rise to speculation that the crash might have been sabotage. But the NTSB ultimately ruled the crash was due to pilot error.
December 8, 2012