1955 Cincinnati mid-air collision

The 1955 Cincinnati mid-air collision occurred on January 12, 1955, when a Trans World Airlines Martin 2-0-2 on takeoff from Boone County Airport (now the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport) collided in mid-air with a privately owned Douglas DC-3 that had entered the airport's control space without proper clearance. There were no survivors.

1955 Cincinnati mid-air collision
DateJanuary 12, 1955
SummaryMid-air collision
SiteBoone County, Kentucky
Total fatalities15
Total survivors0
First aircraft

A Martin 2-0-2 similar to the accident aircraft
TypeMartin 2-0-2A
Flight originBoone County Airport
DestinationCleveland-Hopkins International Airport
Second aircraft

A Douglas DC-3C similar to the accident aircraft
TypeDouglas DC-3
OperatorCastleton Inc.
Flight originBattle Creek
DestinationLexington, Kentucky

Aircraft and crews

The TWA plane, flown by Captain J. W. Quinn and co-pilot Robert K. Childress, with air hostess Patricia Ann Stermer, was a regularly scheduled flight bound for Dayton, Ohio, en route to Cleveland. 10 passengers were aboard.[1][2]

The DC-3 was piloted by Arthur "Slim" Werkhaven of Sturgis, Michigan, with co-pilot Edward Agner of Battle Creek, Michigan, and was being flown from Battle Creek en route to Lexington, Kentucky. They were to pick up Mr. and Mrs. Fredrick Van Lennep. Mrs. Van Lennep, the former Frances Dodge, was an officer of the firm that owned the plane and founded the Dodge Stables at Meadow Brook Farm, later moving Dodge Stables to Castleton Farm in Lexington. The plane would have carried the Van Lenneps to Delray Beach, Florida.

Collision and crash

The Martin 2-0-2A had just taken off from the airport on Runway 22 and was climbing in a right turn through a cloud base at 700–900 feet when the collision occurred about 9:00 am.[3] The DC-3 was en route from Michigan flying VFR heading approximately south towards Lexington, KY. The right wing of the Martin 202 struck the left wing of the DC-3. This caused the right wing of the Martin to separate and the DC-3 experienced fuselage, rudder and fin damage. Following the collision both aircraft crashed out of control, impacting the ground about two miles apart. The wreckage of one of the aircraft fell along Hebron-Limaburg Road, two miles northeast of Burlington, Kentucky. There were no survivors from either aircraft.


The control tower, operated by the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA), reported that there was no record of a flight plan for either aircraft. A CAA spokesman said that radio messages from the TWA plane shortly after takeoff indicated the pilot was "alarmed and excited".[4] The spokesman also said the pilot was cleared for takeoff and to make a right turn out.

TWA later filed a $2 million damage suit against the Castleton Corporation of Kentucky.[5]

The probable cause was determined to be operating the DC-3 in a controlled zone with unknown traffic, i.e. no clearance received and no communication with the airport tower.[6]

See also


  1. Lebanon Daily News, Monday, January 12, 1955
  2. The Holland Evening Sentinel, Monday, January 12, 1955
  3. The Daily (Illinois) Register, Monday, January 12, 1955
  4. The Middletown Journal, January 12, 1955
  5. Aviation Daily, American Aviation Publications, 1955
  6. CAA Report

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