Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian. This column originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter. The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.
It’s been more than 50 years since that terrible plane crash occurred on March 8, 1964. The plane crashed into the Golubski home, 112 Arlington St., just before midnight. The chartered DC-3 two engine plane was returning from a skiing trip to the Boyne mountain area, Pellston, Michigan when the plane came down in the residential area of Hoffman Estates. It was trying to land at O’Hare airport.
There were 28 skiers, members of the Snow Drifters Club of Aurora, and a crew of two on the plane when it crashed into the Golubski house. It took two hours before the fire department could reach the pilot and co-pilot and free them from the cockpit that was buried in the garage of the home. Unfortunately, the co-pilot died in the crash. The passengers were able to quickly leave the plane with just cuts and bruises. Ambulances were sent from Chicago to help take the injured passengers to Northwest Community Hospital for treatment.
Fire Chief Carl Selke said that pilot, Virgil Provonost, told him during the rescue that they “hit some turbulence and we were unable to lift up. We were able to turn off the engines before hitting.” As the plane came down, it clipped a pole bringing down the wires and setting off the fire alarm at the nearby school. Fire trucks arrived quickly. They were concerned that the fuel in the plane would be ignited. Several of the men disconnected the wiring to the batteries to prevent a spark that could set everything ablaze. Firemen from Elk Grove, Bloomingdale and Hoffman Estates took part in the rescue. (The photo below is Parcel A in mid-construction. Arlington Street is in Parcel B.)
There have been many stories about how the plane crashed. One story tells of how the pilot mistook the lights on the street as the O’Hara runway. I’ve heard this story many times. But the pilot is never quoted as saying this. Since there were no lights along the highways or on the streets of Hoffman Estates at that time, I never understood how street lights could confuse the pilot.
Ken Rogner, who had the Shell gas station on the corner of Roselle and Higgins told me he was one of the first to arrive at the crash scene. Because he had a thin build, he was asked to try and work his way into the cockpit to rescue the crew. Many of the neighbors also came to offer help but where warned to stay back because of the threat of fire.
Miraculously the five members of the Golubski family were unharmed but in shock at how close they came to serious injury or even death due to the plane crash that seriously damaged their home.
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
Airplane photo compliments of the Village of Hoffman Estates’ website.