Archive for the ‘Airstrips and Airports’ Category

A PLANE CRASH IN HOFFMAN ESTATES

March 15, 2015

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.

plane crash

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.) 1871

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.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
Eagle2064@comcast.net

Airplane photo compliments of the Village of Hoffman Estates’ website.

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TOUCHING DOWN IN SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP

April 18, 2010

During WWII it was a fairly common sight to see Stearman bi-planes buzzing the skies of Schaumburg Township.  Flying out of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, these training planes practiced touch and go landings at an airstrip in the photo above.  This strip was directly on the SE corner of the intersection of Schaumburg and Barrington Roads. 

The planes flying overhead were a wonderful source of distraction during the war years.  Several of the oral historians whose histories are on the Local History Digital Archive remarked how they madly waved to the pilots and, quite often, the pilots would wave back by tipping their wings.  Mr. Engelking called them his buddies!

There were a couple memorable incidents that the historians remembered though.  The Gerschefske girls spoke of the pilot who tried to go under the wires along Roselle Road, caught a wing and tipped over.  One of their friends took a picture but the Navy didn’t approve and took her camera away from her. 

Mr. Leonhardt recalled how one winter a plane ran out of fuel and was forced to land rather abruptly on the Fred Springinsguth farm.  As a result the motor and propeller were damaged.  The incident happened around 12:00 noon and the pilot walked to their farm to contact his base.  They did not arrive to pick him up until 6:00.  The next day the engine and propeller were replaced on the spot and the plane was towed to Schaumburg Road.   Without further ado, the pilot used Schaumburg Road as its runway and took off going west.  As was remarked on the video, there wasn’t much traffic to worry about then!

During this time, the property was part of the Gertrude McNaught farm that was called Rolling Acres.  It was purchsed from William Schuneman in 1937 by Gertrude and her husband Norris, who was the co-founder of Duro Metal Products in 1916.  Mr. McNaught died in 1942 and his widow later married his business partner, William Odlum.   It  became known as the Odlum property and was eventually sold for development in 1986.

Many thanks to one of the blog’s consistent readers for passing on the photo and providing incentive for an interesting posting.