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Miracle Passenger


Unfortunately, accidents happen all the time. On this date, in 1951, a horrible accident struck when a Mid-Continent Airlines flight, en route to Minneapolis from Kansas City, crashed at Sioux City, killing fifteen people. Witnesses to the crash said visibility had been fair, but a sudden snow squall blotted out the airplane as it came in for a landing. Instead of finding the runway, it came down in a cornfield. Witnesses could only hear the crash through the storm-the first fatal crash in the airline's 17-year history, and the first ever airliner crash in Iowa.

A Bismarck man was among the ten survivors. His name was Budd Quam, district manager of the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company. He was traveling home after attending a sales meeting in Omaha.

The plane had already aborted one landing, and as Quam later told reporters, the pilot circled the field and began another turn, but the plane banked steeply, and the nose tipped toward the ground.

Quam said, "I could see the ground approaching; it couldn't have taken more than a couple of seconds." The next thing he knew, he was wandering a hundred feet from the crash. He was later surprised to learn of the death toll, especially since his injuries had been minor.

It was a bad stretch for the airline, as another plane had crashed earlier in the week, but all the passengers had safely evacuated before the plane became engulfed with flames. One woman was aboard both flights. She perished in the second crash. Also among the dead were four army privates, the pilot and the copilot.

It was a setback for air travel, and a time of shock and mourning. Who knows why some live and some die? But on this date, Budd Quam of Bismarck survived.

By Sarah Walker


Bismarck Tribune, Friday, March 2, 1951, p.1

Bismarck Tribune, Saturday, March 3, 1951, p.1