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1940 Airplane Crash Killed U.S. Senator Frank Lundeen & Two FBI Agents

Guest Tom Scully

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Guest Tom Scully

Moved from JFK Debate Forum

There are a number of posts already on this thread telling you this, but you don't seem to be replying to the opinion of many who take issue with the tone and the hypocrisy some of his perceive as an "opening shot" in your thread opener.

You assert your main cred.... you're a CT who believes you had success in "breaking through" with your particular theory, and now, you want to define (restrict) where the boundaries are.

I'll say it again, on behalf of a lot of us, sorry, David, you don't get to be "that" guy. Compare yourself and your background, attempting to set the boundaries beyond which you perceive, is the unreasonable, irrational, wilderness of thought and research, with the assertion, sworn to in court, of this super serious, establishment intelligence leader, a man who has devoted his career to "keeping us safe".

Who do you think now seems more reasonable and attractive to the MSM, David, you, Fetzer, or Adm. Inman. Post your ratings of these three choices.

Read the recent article on a mysterious airplane crash that killed a Minn. U.S. Senator, and two FBI agents, because it is not what you think.


Massey Managers Believed Coal Company Was Target of Obama ‘Conspiracy’

By Jef Feeley and Sophia Pearson - May 24, 2011 5:20 PM ET

Don Blankenship, Massey’s former chief executive officer, and Chairman Bobby Ray Inman, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, made clear in sworn testimony that they “firmly believed the company was being targeted by the government,” lawyers for Massey investors who are suing the company’s directors said in filings unsealed today in state court in Delaware.

Inman, a former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, “was unequivocal in his assertions” in pre-trial depositions that mine regulators, union officials, plaintiffs lawyers “and President Obama himself harbored a secret agenda to destroy Massey, and that the large numbers of safety violations Massey received were proof of the conspiracy,” according to the lawyers.


Bobby Ray Inman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

He served as Director of Naval Intelligence from September 1974 to July 1976, then moved to the Defense Intelligence Agency where he served as Vice Director until 1977. He next became the Director of the National Security Agency. Inman held this post until 1981. His last major position was as the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, a post he held from February 12, 1981 to June 10, 1982....


Death of senator from Minnesota still shrouded in mystery

By Albert Eisele | Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009


...However, the Civil Aeronautics Board, ....raised further doubts in November when it issued an 87-page report of its investigation into the accident, even while concluding that the accident probably was caused by an "extraordinary lightning effect."...

....The report noted "the fact that all-metal airplanes are frequently struck by lightning with no injurious results, and that the character of the lightning discharge, as well as its effect on the airplane and crew, in the present instance must be regarded as an extremely unusual occurrence." It added, "Nothing within the ordinary range of experience and no combination of events of which the occurrence could be regarded as at all likely, would have sufficed to have produced this accident."

Roll with it, David, instead of trying to endorse the "serious" people. The MSM is already handling that assignment, and they're doing a heck of a job.

I’m confused Tom because Evan, another moderator, asked us to keep out posts on this thread on the topic of the assassination but shortly after that you post irrelevant stuff like this – you guys need to get your signals straight. So just what are you insinuating, that FDR and/or Hoover killed a planeload of people just to eliminate the senator? If so why do it when 2 FBI agents were aboard? What would be the motive? FDR had a strong majority in both houses of congress. Can you point to Senate votes on aid to the allies or sanctions against the Axis where shift of 1 or 2 votes would have made a difference? Lend-Lease for example passed 60 – 31, with Lundeen’s successor voting in favor so it would have gone 59 – 32 if he lived.



For your edification here’s the crash report


As for the part about Inman I have no idea what you were going on about and doubt David or anyone else did either

I am not insinuating anything related Hoover or FDR involvement in The Lundeen crash, Len. Suspicion was that Sen. Lundeen was under FBI surveillance because of his association with a known Nazi, and because of what was learned, later.


Treason: the story of disloyalty and betrayal in American history

Nathaniel Weyl - 1950 - 491 pages - Snippet view

On August 31, 1940, his secretary found him near collapse. The Senator's head was buried in his hands and he was weeping. "I can't talk about it. I've gone too far to turn back," he said. That afternoon, Lundeen was killed in a Virginia .

WITNESS SAYS HILL USED LUNDEEN FRANK; Mrs. Spielman Testifies Viereck Wrote Speeches for Senator

January 10, 1942, Saturday

HILL LINKS FISH WITH VIERECK ACTS; Convicted Secretary Reverses Testimony in Telling of His Introduction to Nazi Agent MAILED SPEECH ON 'FRANK' Witness Says 125,000 Copies Were Sent Out and He Got 'Tip' of $100 From Defendant

February 20, 1942, Friday

SAYS MRS. LUNDEEN TOOK VIERECK DATA; Former Secretary to Senator Testifies That Widow "Stripped' Files of Records TELLS OF SPEECH-WRITING Witness Asserts Joint Effort Produced Anti-British Attack -- Viereck Paid by Nazi

February 25, 1942, Wednesday



One implicated legislator was the late Senator Ernest Lundeen, Minnesota isolationist, who, it was said, had inserted speeches prepared by Mr. Viereck into ...March 8, 1942


The Memory of Fish

Monday, Mar. 02, 1942

Ham Fish's memory went dead. The gangling, trumpet-tongued Congressman was on the witness stand in Washington, called there to explain his relations with George Sylvester Viereck, veteran Nazi propaganda agent. Viereck was on trial, charged with failing to tell the State Department all about his activities. One Government witness was George Hill, World War I buddy and for some 20 years office clerk to Ham Fish. Because he had once denied knowing Agent Viereck, Hill himself was tried for perjury a few weeks ago, had been sentenced to two-to-six years in jail. He took it like a man who was loyally suppressing a big secret. But in court last week, Hill admitted that:

¶He had served as handy man of a propaganda ring managed by Viereck and Prescott Dennett, Washington publicist.

¶ Ham Fish had introduced him to Viereck, after Fish had held a long conference with the Nazi agent in Fish's private office.

¶ Viereck then instructed him to mail out, under frank of Minnesota's late Senator Ernest Lundeen, copies of an isolationist speech Lundeen made in the Senate.

¶Fish provided Viereck with a mailing list of some 100,000 names.

Ham Fish strode in with majestic dignity. But his memory was in bad shape. He could not be sure whether he had introduced Viereck to his secretary, George Hill. All such details had faded into a fog. Prosecutor William Power Maloney asked suavely whether it was a coincidence that Viereck's views as a Nazi propagandist "coincide so closely with your views as a Congressman at this time." Mr. Fish could still shout. He leaned forward, shouted: "The man who made that statement lies." Maloney asked him whether he referred to Viereck. Fish replied: "I am referring to you. ... I didn't come here to be insulted."

Said Maloney: "I think the American people have been insulted."

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Where you "not insinuating" the plane was sabotaged" Or only "not insinuating" FDR or Hoover were responsible? In the latter case who do think did it and why? In the former case why were the only parts you posted from the article

However, the Civil Aeronautics Board, ....raised further doubts in November when it issued an 87-page report of its investigation into the accident, even while concluding that the accident probably was caused by an "extraordinary lightning effect."...

....The report noted "the fact that all-metal airplanes are frequently struck by lightning with no injurious results, and that the character of the lightning discharge, as well as its effect on the airplane and crew, in the present instance must be regarded as an extremely unusual occurrence." It added, "Nothing within the ordinary range of experience and no combination of events of which the occurrence could be regarded as at all likely, would have sufficed to have produced this accident."

Certainly in the context of the rest of the post the message being comported was that you suspected the crash was not accidental.

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Guest Tom Scully

Len, my responses to your questions appear lower in this post.


Telegraph-Herald - Sep 1, 1940 Milwaukee Journal

Those aboard the plane realized they were going to crash. Rhodes said, because a note dropped by the stewardess, Margaret Carson of Pittsburgh, was found on a farm three miles from the spot where the plane went down.Rhodes said the note asked that whoever found it notify the Pitts burgh office. Investigating officers estimated that she barely got the note out of the plane, perhaps two minutes, be fore it struck the ground...

..Indication that the pilot. Capt. Lowell Scroggins of Washington, may have become lost in the cloud burst and fog came from report of Paul Rogers lumberman who lives near Hillsboro VA and wha told Rhodes he saw the plane heading east not west few minutes before the crash. ...

....At Pittsburgh, headquarters of the Pennsylvania Central, employes said they were of the opinion the plane crashed without much warning since some word could have been expected by radio from the pilot if he had been facing a forced landing...

...Employes of the line at Pitts burgh said another of their planes was flying about eight miles from the scene The company report ed the pilot of that plane report1 ed the weather wasroutine at 3,000 feet and the visibility was good....


1940 air crash took a toll not soon forgotten

By David Maurer

Published: March 01, 2009

...When the investigation was complete, two scenarios were provided for the most likely cause of the crash. Wind shear, a sudden and powerful change in the direction of the wind, was given as one probable cause.

The Civil Aeronautics Board had the last word in the matter, and it came up with a different theory. Its experts thought it was most likely that a bolt of nearby lightning had disabled the pilots....


....But unlike the Wellstone tragedy, the cause of the crash that killed the first-term Farmer-Labor senator remains shrouded in mystery nearly three quarters of a century later. In fact, the FBI has never officially closed the books on its investigation into the possibility that sabotage might have caused what was then the nation's worst aviation disaster. ....

I posted about the 1940 crash resulting in the death of Sen. Lundeen in an attempt to make a point that none of us are qualified to presume what "serious people" should or should not be suspicious or skeptical about, and that the MSM has not shown the integrity or accuracy in its reporting and choices of what to cover, to have earned the distinction to accord it that privilege.

I excerpted portions of the 1940 crash article I thought showed that the investigating panel contradicted its own findings as to the cause of the crash, in that they admitted their determination, a lightening strike, was a low probability event, or possibly unprecedented. (WTC 7 collapse comes to mind as a similar official determination...unprecedented event)

I've now shared with you, everything I know about this incident. The crew member composing and dropping a "note", vs. no radio distress call, indicates there was possibly a three minute window before the crash when the crew member put pen to paper, composed the distress note, and figured out how to drop it out of the rapidly descending, doomed airliner.

I don't see a sabotage or assassination scenario, but apparently the FBI has never let go of its suspicions. In view of that agency's track record, "case closed" could mean, "case open".


FBI’s Robert Mueller Still Engaging in an Anthrax Cover-Up

By: emptywheel Sunday November 1, 2009 6:55 am

Steven Aftergood has just published Robert Mueller’s responses to questions for the record he received from the Senate Judiciary Committee this spring. Chuck Grassley asked Mueller several questions about the anthrax investigation. (The questions start on page 42 of these QFRs.) Mueller’s answers make it clear the FBI was–and is still–trying to cover up details about its investigation of the anthrax attack....


The Circumstantial Case against Bruce Ivins Gets Weaker

By: emptywheel Wednesday May 25, 2011 2:12 pm

...So here’s my summary of the circumstantial case against Bruce Ivins. (Jim White gave me a ton of scientific help with this, but the errors surely result from my own misunderstanding.)

When US Attorney Jeff Taylor announced FBI was closing the investigation in February 2010, he gave the following 7 pieces of evidence that Ivins was the culprit.

First, we were able to identify in early 2005 the genetically-unique parent material of the anthrax spores used in the mailings. As the court documents allege, the parent material of the anthrax spores used in the attacks was a single flask of spores, known as “RMR-1029,” that was created and solely maintained by Dr. Ivins at USAMRIID. This means that the spores used in the attacks were taken from that specific flask, regrown, purified, dried and loaded into the letters. No one received material from that flask without going through Dr. Ivins. We thoroughly investigated every other person who could have had access to the flask and we were able to rule out all but Dr. Ivins. .....

...Here’s what remains of each of these 7 pieces of evidence:

1. The spores in the attack came from RMR-1029 and Ivins controlled access to that flask

The certainty of this claim was seriously challenged by both the National Academy of Sciences report and subsequent reporting on several grounds.

First, the NAS study concluded only that the genetic analysis was consistent with the spores being derived from RMR-1029.

The results of the genetic analyses of the repository samples were consistent with the finding that the spores in the attack letters were derived from RMR-1029, but the analyses did not definitively demonstrate such a relationship.

That only says that whoever prepared the (probable) two separate batches of anthrax may have started with anthrax obtained at some point from that flask. NAS holds out the possibility the anthrax producer may have gotten it from somewhere else, that it was possible to get similar genetic results from other means (that is, suggesting that’s not the only way to have produced the samples found in the letter).

An even bigger problem is the complete lack of attention on what happened to the anthrax after it came from Ivins’ flask, if it did. The NAS later emphasizes this interim step.....

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I'm not following you. You said you don't know much about the crash and think the report contradicted itself but I see no sign you actually read the report even though I posted a link to it several days ago. You suspect "the MSM has not shown the integrity or accuracy in its reporting and choices of what to cover" re:the crash (among other incidents) but I see no signs you looked at more than 1 or 2 articles.

The lack of a distress call is interesting but fits with what many pilots said about the Wellstone crash, that the pilots would have prioritized saving the plane over making a radio call.

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  • 2 weeks later...

TOM, YES I agree with your ideas presented in your post and add this in context. THANKS sg


Vivian Johnson

Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 21:16:54 -0500

Media In America

Instructor: Moti Nissani

Newspapers Snub the Specter of Assassination:

Was Walter Reuther murdered?

In this paper I am going to discuss the death of Walter Reuther and the

suspicious way that the newspapers covered it. My interest in Walter

Reuther arose in part from my experiences as a member of the United Auto

Workers. While at the Walter and May Reuther Educational and Recreational

Center at Black Lake, I saw a film that depicted much about the life of

Walter Reuther and I was fascinated. I wanted to know more about him and

this paper gave me the opportunity to do just that. After completing my

research, I feel that the newspapers engaged in a conspiracy of silence

while reporting on the death of Walter Reuther: they presented information

about the plane crash along with biographical data, but only one paper

addressed the possibility that he may have been murdered.

Walter Reuther died at the age of 62 in a plane crash. He was the dynamic

and charismatic leader of the United Auto Workers (UAW). This second son of

a German immigrant couple was born on September 1, 1907, in Wheeling, West

Virginia. Walter Reuther was born into the labor movement and during his 35

years as a labor leader, he was instrumental in bringing it to its greatest

expansion in American History. His father, Valentine, a socialist, trained

Walter early in trade unionism and encouraged his natural bent for debate.

Walter Reuther was first and foremost a labor organizer, with an

overpowering sense of social justice that shaped his controversial,

temperamental, combustible, and at times unrelenting character. Reuther

developed his passion for social justice from his father. By nature shrewd

and brilliant, he developed a fiery oratorical style that captured the

imagination of millions of supporters. It was not uncommon for Reuther to

hold an audience mesmerized for three or more hours1. As a member of the

UAW, I now enjoy many of the same benefits that Reuther obtained for its


There are some who believe that Reuther was murdered, most especially his

family. It was a dark and rainy night on May 9, 1970 near Pellston,

Michigan. Walter Reuther, his wife May, the architect Oscar Stonorov, a

bodyguard, the pilot and co-pilot were killed in a chartered Lear jet while

en route to the union’s recreational and educational facility at Black Lake.

This new facility had been designed by Oscar Stonorov and was due to be

opened to the membership within a few weeks of the crash. There were three

witnesses who heard the plane before it crashed and then were subsequently

at the scene. Manuel Suarez, a farmer, said “He (the pilot) came over the

house and sounded awful low. It was right above the house, then the sound

stopped and I looked out the window.” Suarez was the first to reach the

crash site and was soon joined by Donald and Sharon Bonter. Sharon Bonter

said “I saw a huge light from our house. I heard a couple of small booms

before the light.”2

In October of 1968, a year and a half before the fatal crash, Reuther and

his brother Victor were almost killed in a small private plane as it

approached Dulles Airport. Luckily for the Reuther brothers, the sky was

clear and the pilots realized the plane was too low and the altimeter was

malfunctioning. The pilots managed a crash landing that allowed all on

board to walk away without injury. Both incidents are amazingly similar;

the altimeter in the fatal crash was believed to have malfunctioned. When

Victor Reuther was interview many years after the fatal crash he said “I

and other family members are convinced that both the fatal crash and the

near fatal one in 1968 were not accidental.”3

There was only one article in the Detroit Free Press that detailed some of

the previous murder attempts on the lives of Walter and Victor Reuther. I

found it strange that only one of the five newspapers discussed the murder

attempts. This article was printed on May 11, 1970. It concentrates on

the murder attempts that occurred in 1948 and 1949, the investigation, and

the reward for information raised by the union. I believe that the murder

attempt in 1938 had been retribution for his union activities at Ford Motor

Company. The article suggests that the two incidents in 1948 and 1949, were

similar because they had been committed by hidden assailants who stood

behind house-side bushes, and fired shotgun blasts through a window. Some

details of the attempts are:

1) In April 1938, two masked gunmen forced their way into Walter Reuther’s

home and tried to abduct him. One of the dinner guests managed to escape

and call for help. The assailants were caught and acquitted in a trial that

was a sham. One of the defendants provided security for Ford Motor Company.

The jury was packed with Ford supporters and the lawyer for the defense

claimed that Ruether had staged the event.4

2) In April 1948, they tried to kill Walter Reuther with shotgun blasts in

his home. Reuther said: “I went to the icebox to get a bowl of fruit salad,

my wife was just a foot from me. I had just made that step and the dish in

my hand just flew into a thousand pieces. In fact, the impact of the thing

knocked me down on the floor, and I tried to get up and I got my arm tangled

up as thought it had been torn off. I couldn’t get up, and I lay there flat

on my back for a second or two. They shot through the both the regular

window and the storm window in the kitchen, and I just lay there on the

floor until they came and took me to the hospital.” He suffered chest and

arm wounds that never allowed him to recover the full use of his right arm

and hand.

3) Victor Reuther was almost killed in 1949 by what appeared to be law

enforcement officials. The Detroit Police claimed that neighbors had been

complaining about his barking dog. The next evening after Victor had given

the dog to family friends, he was shot in the head while in his home. He

suffered the loss of part of his right eye and parts of his jaw.

4) There was an attempt in 1949 to bomb the UAW’s headquarters in Detroit.

The Detroit Police nor J. Edgar Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigation

attempted to discover who the perpetrators were.5

Why doesn’t anyone seem to find it strange that this article was not enough

to spur local or national attention nor any debate in the other newspapers?

If Walter Reuther was indeed murdered or assassinated, there are others with

political enemies and bents toward social justice who have preceded him.

Consider the assassinations of the following individuals:

1) John Fitzgerald Kennedy our 35th president was murdered on November 22,

1963 while visiting Dallas, Texas. Although he and his brother were from a

very wealthy and affluent family, he sought to promote social change and

justice for the victims of discrimination in this country.6

2) Malcolm X was murdered on February 21, 1965. He was labeled a radical

black civil rights activist with ties to the Nation of Islam. He felt that

violence towards those that would do him and his supporters harm was


3) Martin Luther King was murdered on April 4, 1968. He was a black civil

rights activist who advocated change through non-violent means.8

4) Senator Robert Francis Kennedy former Attorney General under JFK’s

administration died on June 6, 1968, one day after he was shot at point

blank range to the head. He had recently announced his candidacy for

president on March 16, 1968 and had just finished giving a speech to his


All of these men were heavily involved in civil rights and the move toward

social justice for all Americans. Why is it that no one seems to find it

curious that some of the major voices for social change were silenced within

such a short span of time?

When I consider what happened to these men, I cannot help thinking about the

death of two of my relatives. Again, their story seems to support the view

that political murders are quite common in the USA. My grandfathers lived

in rural Alabama during the most racist era in American history.

African-Americans could not seek justice in a society dominated by whites.

Segregation left African-Americans in the position of feeling both inferior

and expendable.

My paternal grandfather was murdered after he was falsely accused of raping

a white female. Men came to his home and took him away. He was found a

short time later, beaten to death. My grandmother was left to raise her six

children alone and never remarried. My maternal grandfather was thrown in

front a moving train. His remains were spread about the area of impact. My

grandmother was left to raise her five children alone and she never

remarried. My parents explained that there was nowhere for their families

to go for justice, because they feared reprisals from whites. Both men were

in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Their murders were just as

politically motivated as the others. It is a shame that the political and

social atmosphere of the time would allow such a thing to happen. I believe

that it is basically the same environment that allowed the deaths of JFK,

Malcolm X, RFK and MLK. Is it such a stretch to assume that our government

and other parties may have been involved in Walter Reuther’s death?

I decided to focus my research on May 9, 1970 (the day of Reuther’s death),

through the end of that month. My study was confined to the following

newspapers: Christian Science Monitor (CSM), Detroit Free Press (DFP),

Detroit News (DN), Michigan Chronicle (MC), and New York Times (NYT). The

picture that emerged was quite unsettling. I found 31 articles on the

subject of Walter Reuther’s death. There were five editorials, one

obituary, one article on the National Transportation Safety Board’s initial

report. There was one conspiracy article from my class on Media in America

and one article that discussed previous murder attempts. The rest involved

biographies, details of the crash, and how the UAW was effected before and

after Reuther’s death. As a reader who knew about the appearance of a

conspiracy in this case, I was left with more questions than I had before I

started. A reader who was exposed to the facts printed by the newspapers at

that time, were not given enough information. How could the public

understand the ramifications of Walter Reuther’s death without all of the

facts? Why were the newspapers so unwilling to give it to them?

Many of the newspapers went through the process of trying to explain

something about the life and times of Walter Reuther. I found it strange

that the CSM had one very brief paragraph mentioning Reuther’s death, three

days after the deadly crash. It was on page two and it appeared in a

regular section called The News-Briefly. It was only three sentences long.

It mentioned that Walter Reuther had died along with his wife May, his

affiliation with the UAW, and the size of its membership.10 There was no

other mention of him made during the time frame for my research. Why is

that? Why would a regional paper totally ignore the president of the

largest labor union in the country? A man who had been courted and

consulted by the politically powerful and the corporate world’s elite? Why

did they consider his death to be of so little consequence?

Considering the fact that the DFP and the DN operate within the sphere of

the UAW’s World Headquarters, you would expect for them to have the most

in-depth reports involving Walter Reuther’s death. I found this to be true.

Both papers had many details about his life and the plane crash that killed

him, testimonials, and details about Reuther’s funeral rites. On May 11,

1970 (two days after the fatal crash), the DN set itself apart from all four

of the other papers, when an article was printed asking: What caused the

crash of Reuther’s jet? The DN’s Aerospace Writer, Edwin Pip, wanted to

know how a time-proven airplane, flown by an experienced pilot in reasonable

weather, could suddenly plunge to the ground. Eight investigators from the

NTSB were said to be at the crash site probing the wreckage from the plane,

and that this was the question that faced them.

Pip mentions that there was “absolutely no sign of trouble reported at the

time” (of the crash). Everything appeared normal as the pilot George Evans,

48, started his final approach for landing. One of the pilots radioed that

they had the airport in sight. He notes that witnesses saw the plane’s

bright landing lights wink on as it approached the field. The plane should

have been flying at about 130 miles per hour, only seconds away from

touchdown, but two and three quarter miles short of the airport something

happened. Suddenly the plane--flying on visual rules, not ground

controlled—was lower than it should have been. It sliced off the top of a

50-foot elm tree, and slammed into the ground in a ball of flame. Again,

there was no indication from the crew over the radio that any problem


Officials at Executive Jet Aviation in Columbus, Ohio, where the jet was

based, said Evans was probably one of the most experienced Lear Jet pilots

in the world. He had been with the company three years. Joe Karaffa, 41,

was the co-pilot and had only recently joined the charter firm after his Air

Force career; both men were retired military jet pilots. The Lear Jet is

one of the first jets designed and built specifically for business flying.

It carries a crew of two and six passengers at nearly 600 miles per hour.

They were first put on the market in 1965, but during the first few years

there were a number of fatal accidents. Some were due to aircraft failures,

but most by pilot inexperience. That certainly was not the case with the

pilots flying Reuther’s plane.11

The NTSB’s preliminary ruling of what caused the crash of Walter Reuther’s

plane on May 9, 1970, was printed on May 14, 1970 in the DN. The same

author of the previous article, Edwin Pip, covered the ruling. The accident

investigators said that the twin jet engines of the plane that carried

Walter Reuther and five others to their deaths had flamed out after striking

trees before the crash. The investigators also noted that the Lear Jet hit

trees on a knoll that was 200 feet higher than the airport near Pellston, MI

and a little more than two miles from the runway. The left engine ingested

wood from the trees and flamed out. The right engine ingested wood and

metal from the airplane and also flamed out. Investigators said after that,

the pilots were only passengers aboard the plane. They had no power to

recover. The investigators recovered an altimeter believed to be the pilot’

s and took it back to Washington, DC for analysis.12

The DFR, DN, MC, and NYT all printed the initial findings of the National

Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), but the final report that was released

on December 22, 1970 was totally ignored. The report seemed to focus on the

altimeter found in the wreckage. There were several unusual defects noted

with the device:

1) A brass screw was found loose in the instrument case. If the screw was

loose, it would have left the high by 200-300 feet.

2) An incorrect pivot was installed in one end of a rocking shaft.

3) An end stone was missing from the opposite end of the rocking shaft.

4) A ring jewel within the mechanism was installed off center.

5) A second rocking shaft rear support pivot was incorrect.

6) The wrong kind of link pin, which holds a spring clip in place at the

pneumatic capsule, was installed.

7) An end stone, which supports a shaft within the mechanism, was installed

off center.13

I must admit that I was extremely biased before I began my research. I

believe that Walter Reuther was murdered. I had to make a conscious effort

to remain objective. I must also admit that after reading all of the

articles involved in my research, my feelings have not changed. If nothing

else, my beliefs have been strengthened by the total disreguard for

responsible reporting that I found. Many of us believe that our media is

the last bastion of truth and freedom. That is not what my research has

proven. What I found were newspapers that were very selective about what

version of truth they wished to reveal to the public. Whether this was due

to some form of political subversion or other powerful entities, we may

never know.

Walter Reuther presented a very real threat to our political establishment.

He and his brother Victor had not made things easy for themselves when they

went to Russia in 1932. J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI doctored a letter that Victor

Reuther sent back to the United States to make it seem as if they were

communists. This letter was distributed to political leaders, corporate

heads, and rival unionists to prove that they were communist sympathizers.

J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI would plague Walter Reuther for almost forty

years. He was constantly a thorn in Reuther’s side and Reuther could do

nothing without Hoover documenting the details.14

As if Walter Reuther’s stance on business, political, and social policies

were not enough, consider these facts:

1) Reuther ran ads in the national media and appeared before congressional

committees to denounce the war and call for drastic cuts in the military


2) In January of 1970, three months before the crash, President Richard

Nixon requested the FBI’s files on Walter Reuther.

3) One day before the fatal crash, Walter Reuther sent a telegram to the

White House condemning the war, the invasion, and “the bankruptcy of our

policy of force and violence in Vietnam.”15

One can imagine that this was not well received by the Nixon White House.

One can also assume that this was not well received by any of the

corporations providing material for the American war machine. With all of

this information being public knowledge and not to mention a sensational

story, why did only one of the newspapers (DFP), provide any in-depth

reporting into the possibility of assassination? Why did the other

newspapers remain silent about the possibility that Walter Reuther was


Walter Reuther had made many enemies in both the political arena and in the

world of business through his negotiations for the UAW, and his social

agenda. Some may have felt that he had become too powerful and had to be

stopped! Walter Reuther’s position as the president of the largest labor

union in America provided him with many resources to promote his agenda.

Reuther’s stance on civil rights for African-Americans and the social

programs that he advocated for the poor did not endear him to his enemies.

The previous murder attempts on the life of Walter Reuther, should have been

examined more thoroughly.

The newspapers and our government have remained strangely silent in this

matter. I find it hard to believe that the FBI still refuses to turn over

nearly 200 pages of documents involving Reuther’s death, and correspondence

between field offices and J. Edgar Hoover. Many of the released documents

are well over forty years old, and the pages were totally inked out!16 Is

there some matter of national security involved where our FBI and CIA would

still want to keep so many secrets about the life and death of Walter

Reuther? Who knows what evidence may have been found to either support or

refute those who believe that Walter Reuther was murdered?

The UAW and those in the world who sought social change, lost an incredible

voice for their causes when Walter Reuther was silenced on May 9, 1970. I

had always viewed the information given by our media with a great deal of

skepticism, but now I know more than ever that we must find as many sources

as possible to seek the truth for ourselves. Our newspapers seem to have

lost all objectivity.

Works listed in order cited:

1) Dewey, James. “A Born Battler for Labor’s Causes.” Detroit Free Press.

11 May 1970. 3B.

2) Delisle, Tom and James Dewey. “Walter Reuther is Dead and the Nation

Mourns.” Detroit Free Press. 11 May 1970. 1A+.

3) Parenti, Michael and Peggy Norton. “The Wonderful Life and Strange Death

of Walter Reuther.” 1996. 193.

4) Parenti, Michael and Peggy Norton. “The Wonderful Life and Strange Death

of Walter Reuther.” 1996. 194-196.

5) Mollison, Andrew. “ ’48 Shooting, Still Unsolved, Sent Family into

Seclusion.” 11 May 1970. 2B.

6) Kennedy, John F. American Presidents. 14 March 2000.


7) Malcolm X. 14 March 2000. http://www.webcorp.com/civilrights/malcomx.htm

8) Martin Luther King-A Historical Examination. 14 March 2000.


9) Robert F. Kennedy Biography. 14 March 2000.


10) “The News in Brief.” Christian Science Monitor. 12 May 1970. 2.

11) Pip, Edwin G. “What caused the crash of Reuther’s jet?” Detroit News.

11 May 1970. 11A.

12) Pip, Edwin G. “Reuther plane had a flame out.” Detroit News. 14 May

1970. 1A.

13) National Transportation Safety Board, Aircraft Accident Report,

Executive Jet Aviation, Inc. Lear Jet L23A N434EJ Near the Emmet County

Airport, Pellston, Michigan, May 9, 1970, Report No. NTSB-AAR-71-3.

14) Parenti, Michael and Peggy Norton. “The Wonderful Life and Strange

Death of Walter Reuther.” 1996. 194.

15) Parenti, Michael and Peggy Norton. “The Wonderful Life and Strange

Death of Walter Reuther.” 1996. 200-201.

16) Parenti, Michael and Peggy Norton. “The Wonderful Life and Strange

Death of Walter Reuther.” 1996. 206.


The Wonderful Life and Strange Death of Walter Reuther

excerpted from the book

Dirty Truths

by Michael Parenti

City Lights Books, 1996, paper



(co-authored with Peggy Noton)

In recent decades, organized labor has endured a serious battering from conservative interests in both government and the corporate world. As progressives in the AFL-CIO try to rally their forces, they would do well to remember those few especially dedicated and gifted union leaders who understood the broader social and political dimensions of the labor struggle. Among such leaders looms the great figure of Walter Reuther. Rising from the ranks to spearhead the creation of the United Auto Workers (UAW), Reuther brought a special blend of unfaltering progressivism and efficacy to the U.S. political scene. For this he earned the wrath of powerful corporate and political interests. On the evening of May 9, 1970, Reuther, along with his wife,

The Early Struggle

Eight months before his death, Reuther reflected on the broader dimensions of labor's struggle: "The labor movement is about changing society . . . . What good is a dollar an hour more in wages if your neighborhood is burning down? What good is another week's vacation if the lake you used to go to, where you've got a cottage, is polluted and you can't swim in it and the kids can't play in it? What good is another $100 pension if the world goes up in atomic smoke?" Reuther was the kind of labor leader who unsettled the higher circles: militant, incorruptible, and dedicated both to the rank-and-file and a broad class agenda.


In 1958, at a GOP fundraiser, Senator Barry Goldwater declared that "Walter Reuther and the UAW-CIO are a more dangerous menace than . . . anything Soviet Russia might do to America."

... A two-page ad in the Wall Street Journal (9/22/58) ran an inch-high headline: "WILL YOU LET REUTHER GET AWAY WITH IT?" The ad warned: "Walter Reuther is already within reach of controlling your Congress. The American Labor movement has now become a political movement with the objective of establishing a socialist labor government in control of the economic and social life of this nation."


Hoover's Vendetta

FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover certainly never lost his violent bitter taste, stalking Walter for some forty years, using undercover informants and illegal bugging equipment. Reuther was on friendly terms with several Democratic presidents who submitted his name for positions on presidential boards and commissions. In each instance, Hoover successfully blocked Reuther's appointment by secretly circulating disinformation packets to the White House and members of Congress, featuring the doctored "For a Soviet America" letter and testimony by individuals falsely accusing Walter of communist affiliations.

Both the CIA and the FBI monitored Reuther's foreign travel, taking note of public comments of his that "might be construed as contrary to the foreign policy of the United States?' During World War II, Hoover made preparations to put all three Reuther brothers in custodial detention. He was ultimately dissuaded from doing so by John Bugas, chief FBI agent in Detroit.

In his early Detroit days, Walter had formed an alliance with communists within the union in order to combat conservative labor factions and company bosses. In 1938 he severed this association and some years later, after gaining control of the UAW board, he launched a purge of dedicated UAW organizers who were communists or close to the party. In 1949, he played a key role in the expulsion of eleven unions accused of being communist-led.

Over the years, Reuther denounced communism at every opportunity, seeking thereby to legitimate his own status as a loyal American. Like so many on the Left then and now, he did not realize that those who fight for social change on behalf of the less-privileged elements of society are abhorred by conservative elites whether they be communists or not. For the industrialists, financiers, and leading politicos, it made little difference whether their wealth and power was challenged by "communist subversives" or "loyal Americans?' The communist label was used in attempts to smear and delegitimate Reuther. But it was not an obsession with communism that caused them to hate and fear Reuther but an obsession with maintaining their privileged place in the politico-economic status quo.

At the same time, Reuther was critical of right-wing radicalism. In 1961, Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked him, Victor, and Joseph Rauh, an attorney for the UAW, to investigate the ultra-Right. (Reuther was a close friend and advisor to the Kennedys.) The resulting report warned of radical right elements inside the military and urged the president to dismiss generals and admirals who engaged in rightist political activities. The report also faulted J. Edgar Hoover for exaggerating "the domestic Communist menace at every turn" thus contributing "to the public's frame of mind upon which the radical right feeds."


From the first days of the AFL-CIO merger in 1955, irreconcilable political differences existed between Reuther and AFL-CIO president George Meany, a cold-war hawk. Under Meany, the AFL-CIO entered into an unholy alliance with the CIA in order to bolster conservative, anticommunist unions in other countries. These unions, as Victor Reuther describes them, were run by people who were "well soaked with both U.S. corporate and CIA juices. It was, in effect, an exercise in trade union colonialism."

In early 1968 the UAW withdrew from the AFL-CIO and joined forces with the Teamsters and two smaller unions to form the Alliance for Labor Action (ALA), with a membership totaling over four million. The Teamsters gave Reuther a free hand on political and social issues. With Nixon in the White House and the bombings in Indochina escalating to unprecedented levels, Reuther ran ads in the national media and appeared before congressional committees to denounce the war and call for drastic cuts in the military budget. While the AFL-CIO was proclaiming its support for Nixon's escalation of the war and his anti-ballistic missile program, the ALA was lobbying hard against both.

Nixon's invasion of Cambodia and the killing of four students at Kent State University prompted Reuther-the day before his death-to send a telegram to the White House condemning the war, the invasion, and "the bankruptcy of our policy of force and violence in Vietnam?' By 1970, Reuther was seen more than ever as a threat to the dominant political agenda, earning him top place on Nixon's enemy list.


The Fatal Crash: Some Disturbing Evidence

The struggles of Walter Reuther's life should cause us to give more than cursory attention to the questionable circumstances of his death. Here are some things to consider:

First, as president of the largest union in the country, Reuther had the resources for advancing his causes on the national scene as did few others. He was an extraordinarily effective proponent of socioeconomic equality and an outspoken critic of the military-industrial complex, the arms race, the CIA, the national security state, and the Vietnam war. For these, things he earned the enmity of people in high places.

Second, in the years before the fatal crash there had been assassination attempts against Walter and Victor. (Victor believes the attempt against him was intended as a message to Walter.) In each of these instances, state and federal law-enforcement agencies showed themselves at best lackadaisical in their investigative efforts, suggesting the possibility of official collusion or at least tolerance for the criminal deeds.

(In this context, it might be noted that in January 1970, only three months before the fatal plane crash, the Nixon White House requested Reuther's FBI file The call came from Egil Krogh, a Nixon staff member who was later arrested as a Watergate burglar. The file documented Reuther's leadership role in progressive and antiwar organizations. In 1985, when Detroit newsman William Gallagher asked why Nixon had wanted the file, Krogh was evasive, claiming a lack of memory.)

Third, like the suspicious near-crash that occurred the previous year, the fatal crash also involved a faulty altimeter in a small plane. It is a remarkable coincidence that Reuther would have been in two planes with the exact same malfunctioning in that brief time frame...


In a follow-up interview with us, Victor further noted:

Animosity from government had been present for some time [before the fatal crash]. It was not only Walter's stand on Vietnam and Cambodia that angered Nixon, but also I had exposed some CIA elements inside labor, and this was also associated with Walter .... There is a fine line between the mob and the CIA There is a lot of crossover. Throughout the entire history of labor relations there is a sordid history of industry in league with Hoover and the mafia .. . . You need to check into right-wing corporate groups and their links to the national security system

Checking into such things is no easy task. The FBI still refuses to turn over nearly 200 pages of documents regarding Reuther's death, including the copious correspondence between field offices and Hoover. And many of the released documents-some of them forty years old-are totally inked out. It is hard to fathom what national security concern is involved or why the FBI and CIA still keep so many secrets about Walter Reuther's life and death.

Reuther's demise appears as part of a truncation of liberal and radical leadership that included the deaths of four national figures: President John Kennedy, Malcolm X Martin Luther King, and Senator Robert Kennedy, and dozens of leaders m the Black Panther Party and in various community organizations. Whether Reuther's death was part of a broader agenda to decapitate and demoralize the mass movements of that day, or whether such an agenda existed at all, are questions that go beyond the scope of our inquiry.

Suffice it to say that Victor's belief, shared by Walter's daughter Elizabeth Reuther Dickmeyer and other members of the family, that the crash was no accident sounds disturbingly plausible. Despite the limited investigation there is enough evidence to suggest that foul play was involved. The untimely death, of this dedicated and effective progressive labor leader raises disquieting questions about the criminal nature of state power in what purports to be a democracy.


In C. Wright Mill's words: "What people are interested in is not always what is to their interest; the troubles they are aware of are not always the ones that beset them. . . It is not only that [people] can be unconscious of their situations; they are often falsely conscious of them."


One can see instances of false consciousness all about us. There are people with legitimate grievances as employees, taxpayers, and consumers who direct their wrath against welfare mothers but not against corporate welfarism, against the inner city poor not the outer city rich, against human services that are needed by the community rather than regressive tax systems that favor the affluent. They support defense budgets that fatten the militarists and their corporate contractors and dislike those who protest the pollution more than they dislike the polluters.

In their confusion they are ably assisted by conservative commentators and hate-talk mongers who provide ready-made explanations for their real problems, who attack victims instead of victimizers, denouncing feminists and minorities rather than sexists and racists, denouncing the poor-rather than the rapacious corporate rich who create poverty. So the poor are defined as "the poverty problem." The effects of the problem are taken as the problem itself. The victims of the problem are seen as the cause, while the perpetrators are depicted as innocent or even beneficial.

Does false consciousness exist? It certainly does and in mass marketed quantities. It is the mainstay of the conservative reactionism of the 1980s and 1990s. Without it, those at the top, who profess a devotion to our interests while serving themselves, would be in serious trouble indeed.



Mon Nov 24, 2008 at 02:42 PM PST

by AJ Weberman


The fatal plane crash of Walter Reuther, a liberal who was head of the United Automobile Workers union on May 9, 1970, also raised questions.

In 1933 Victor and Walter Reuther had lived and worked in the Soviet Union. They were favorably impressed with pre-Stalinist Marxist-Leninism. In 1937 Walter Reuther became the leader of a United Automobile Workers insurgent faction that included Communists. The FBI reported: "He ran for the Common Council in Detroit in the 1937 election on a Communist Party of the United States of America ticket." [FBI 61-9556-283, p8] In 1940 J. Edgar Hoover stated: "Walter Reuther was one of the Reuther brothers of the CIO, an avowed Communist, who was educated at the propaganda college in Moscow; was sent to this country eight or nine years ago, and was active in the Detroit area." It was suggested to the FBI by one of its informants that Walter Reuther's anti-communism was insincere, and merely a self-serving ruse in his quest for power. Walter Reuther was characterized as a Communist mole within the labor movement. The Communist Party of the United States of America had tried to recruit Walter Reuther, but was unsuccessful. In June 1963, Victor Lasky reported that Walter Reuther had urged United States Attorney General Robert Kennedy to curb the FBI's war on Communism. [NY Journal American 6.5.63]

David Halberstam related the President Kennedy planned to replace John McCone as CIA Director with Jack Conway, Walter Reuther's chief political lobbyist. In 1966 Victor Reuther told Drew Pearson and The Los Angeles Times that many of the AFL/CIO's overseas operations were conduits for the CIA. Victor Reuther named CIA labor operatives and CIA-founded unions. He described AID and AIFLD as CIA conduits. This allegation angered former CIA Staffer Thomas Braden and he revealed that in 1967, that some time between 1950, and 1954, he gave the Reuther brothers $50,000 of CIA funds. Braden was born in Dubuque, Iowa, on February 22, 1918. As World War II approached, he enlisted in the British Army. When the United States entered the war, he served in the OSS. He joined the CIA in 1950 as Special Assistant to Allen Dulles. In 1948 Braden married the former Joan Ridley, whom he met when she was on Nelson Rockefeller's staff.

Walter Reuther admitted having taken the money, and said that Braden had tried to recruit his brother Victor as a CIA agent: "Victor was contacted by Tom Braden at the U.S. Embassy in Paris and asked to become a CIA agent, using as a 'front' his position [with the CIO]." Braden stated: "Victor spent the money, mostly in West Germany, to bolster labor unions there. He tried undercover techniques to keep me from finding out how he spent it. But I had my own undercover techniques." Braden gave Walter Reuther the money in $50 bills.

Although funding non-communist labor unions was a common practice, had Walter Reuther misappropriated any of these funds, the CIA would have been able to get a handle on him. Victor Reuther wrote: "I was still in Paris when the transfer of the $50 bills took place. The $50,000 was obviously an attempt to silence us..."

In 1960 NIXON called Walter Reuther "a labor leader-turned- radical politician." In 1962, Walter Reuther, a member of the Tractors for Freedom Committee, helped conduct negotiations to release the Bay of Pigs Brigade prisoners from Cuba. NIXON called this "submission to blackmail."

On May 9, 1970, Walter and May Reuther, Oskar Stronorov, William Wolfman, George Evans and Joseph Karrafa were killed when their Executive Jet Aviation M43EJ Lear Jet crashed at Emmet County Airport in Pellston, Michigan. Victor Reuther wrote: "Like others, I have been haunted continually by the question, 'Was the crash accidental?' There had been so many attempts on Walter's life. But from the intensive FAA investigation, the facts seem to say clearly that it was caused by human error, not neglect..." The FAA/NTSB found "no indication of sabotage." An examination of the reports by Barfield and Kollsman Instruments, on which the National Transportation Safety Board based their findings, told a different story.


The National Transportation Safety Board report stated that "while all systems were irreparably damaged [including the co-pilot's altimeter], information was nevertheless obtained from a few units. The captain's altimeter showed a reading of 1400 feet M.S.L. with an altimeter setting 29.75 inches..." This was similar to the altimeter reading uncovered after the crash of October 1964. The altimeter was sent to Barfield Instruments, and then to James W. Angus at Kollsman Instruments for examination. The Kollsman Instrument's report stated: "No identification was present to trace the specific instrument type and date of manufacture. The mechanism construction isolated the unit to one of three major types, each of which had numerous variations, none of which were TSO certified. All of these types were essentially military." Had an untraceable altimeter been substituted for the original? Had this altimeter been constructed and tested so that it would fail at a specific, critical time during the flight?

The jet Walter Reuther was on had been initially assigned a ferry job from Columbus to Akron, Ohio. The plane refueled at Akron and went on to Detroit's City Airport, then on to Detroit's Metro Airport. According to Victor Reuther: "It was on the ground only 20 minutes, taxiing in and out before it loaded Walter and his party at 8:44 p.m. The Lear Company maintained that it was impossible for anyone but trusted officials of their firm to have known who was to use the plane..." Steven I. Schlossberg, who conducted the investigation of the crash for the United Automobile Workers, reported: "In view of the fact that almost no one outside of top officials of Executive Jet could have known the identity of the passengers and there was little, if any, chance for ground tampering of this airplane, it appears to me that further investigation on a private basis is unwarranted." David O. Norris, a private detective hired by Elizabeth Reuther Dickmeyer, youngest daughter of Walter Reuther, discovered evidence to the contrary: "Just hours after the crash a reporter from the Detroit News talked to the night dispatcher at Butler Aviation who said he knew that Walter Reuther was on the plane." Mrs. Dickmeyer stated that her father was going up to Black Lake almost every weekend, and that information would not have been hard to discern. Twenty minutes on the ground gave the saboteur enough time to change an altimeter. Aside from the fact it had no past, there were many other strange things about the captain's altimeter:


A report from the Barfield Instrument Corporation dated May 19, 1970, stated: "One of the set screws was out of the rocking shaft, allowing the calibration arm assembly to be loose in the shaft. There was an indentation adjacent to the missing set screw hole. The set screw, which was missing from the rocking shaft, was recovered from within the case. Inspection revealed charred aluminum in the brass screw threads. The rocking shaft screw hole was inspected and found to have the threads torn out."

A report from the Kollsman Instrument Company stated: "If the questionable calibration arm set screws were loose..."



The screw had not fallen out due to worn out or damaged threads. Photographs of the set screw revealed normal threading. The screw hole shaft had its threads "torn," or drilled out. This was why it popped out. This was consistent with the indentation mark near the screw hole, that looked like a mark a left by a high speed drill bit that had drilled in the wrong area, then quickly withdrawn. The proper hole was located, and the threads were drilled out. The set screw was put back in place. The altimeter looked intact, even though it had been tampered with. As the rocking arm rotated, erroneous information would be transmitted to the dials from the altimeter's pressure capsule.

The Kollsman Instrument Report: "If the questionable calibration arm set screws were loose at the time of the approach under concern, the instrument would probably have indicated high by roughly 225 to 250 feet." This finding was based on a test during which the rocking shaft "calibration arm set screw was loosened. The unit was exposed to 10,000 ft. pressure altitude, then the return scale error readings were recorded."

This error was significant. Walter Reuther's jet had been cleared for an instrument landing and broke through scattered clouds at 400 feet. But it landed short of the airport, and crashed into 50-foot elm trees. The jet engines were immediately stopped by the branches. The momentum of the plane took it 269 feet farther, cutting through the trees; then it exploded into a ball of fire. The bodies were burned beyond recognition except for dental records. The crash occurred because the pilot thought he was flying higher than was indicated by the altimeter readings. Weather conditions that day were reported as "scattered clouds at 400 feet, measured ceiling 800 feet overcast, visibility seven miles, thunderstorms and light rain showers, wind at ten knots." The crew was experienced: Captain Evans with 7760 flight hours and his copilot, Karaffa, with 6533.

The loose set screw could not be explained. A Kollsman Instrument Report attempted to explain the indentation: "Examination of the shaft indicated physical damage adjacent to the questionable screw hole in the shaft. Further microscopic examination leads to the belief that this was due to causes other than upset by staking, due to the lack of upset material adjacent to the depression, and hole shape. It was more likely caused by high heat and pressure of a part laying in contact. A staked depression would deform the adjacent holes and shaft as noted in Photo 45 which was purposely done on an equivalent shaft at room temperature." The altimeter, however, had only been partially opened by crash events and the rocking shaft in question was still shielded by the altimeter's case. It could not have been caused by "a part laying in contact." Click HERE to see this. The Barfield Report never addressed itself to where the drill mark came from, or how the threads had been torn out. The Kollsman Report speculated that the damaged threads, and loose screw, might have been caused by heat damage: "Examination of a similar rocking shaft exposed to 1100 degrees Fahrenheit, believed to be higher than that which the subject instrument was exposed to, showed that with a thread which is unabused, and with a properly tightened screw:

a) the screw did not come out due to high temperature exposure:

letter b= there is an aluminum deposit on the brass screw threads under load:

c) the thread in the shaft tapped hole, Photo 39, is not damaged to the extent shown on Photos 24, 25, 26 and 27."

This ruled out heat damage as being responsible for the threads being torn out.


The investigators at Kollsman agreed with those at Barfield that the set screw was in place during the crash. The Kollsman Report stated: "Examination of the calibration arm, Photo 31, and 32, and the end of the questionable screw show discolorations whose shapes tend to confirm that this screw was in position at the time of exposure to high temperature. The questionable calibration arm set screw is reasoned to have been in position at the time the X-ray pictures were taken (analysis of the X-ray, Photo 10, and Photo 5 NTSB picture) and Photos 11 - 14 allow the conclusion that the questionable calibration arm set screw was in the shaft at the time the X-ray was taken and the stains on the calibration arm indicate that the arm position was reasonably correct." The Barfield Report, which was based on the primary examination of the unit, agreed: "One of the set screws was out of the rocking shaft, allowing the calibration arm assembly to be loose in the shaft. However, a bright spot on the arm in the area indicated (ref D) was in position in line with the set screw hole at the time the mechanism was removed from the case."


No test was conducted to determine if the set screw, sitting in a drilled-out thread, would leave a similar mark; with the threads torn, it could not have left a bright spot or stain on the shaft, since there would have been a total absence of tension. Even if there were tension, the screw would have left traces of movement on the shaft. When recovered, the rocking shaft was bent, so the screw must have changed position. The screw was tightened prior to the drilling-out of its base threads, so that the screw left the proper mark on the shaft. The fact that the screw was still in place after the crash, and was in a virtually pristine condition, while the threads that surrounded it had been obliterated was, furthermore, never addressed. There were several other problems with the construction of this altimeter:


According to a Kollsman Instrument report, the same rocking shaft that contained the missing set screw "has the improper pivot on the forward end." The Kollsman report stated: "One of the pivots which supports the rear of the rocking shaft was incorrect in that it is intended for a ring stone application only. If it was placed in the end of the shaft that did not have an end stone, it means that the improper jewel installation in the rocking shaft A was noted." Click HERE to see this.


The correct pivot was conical, the incorrect pivot was flat. The technician that placed the wrong pivot should have realized that the end stone had been "installed in an inverted position." On the opposite end of the same rocking shaft the end stone was missing and the ring jewel was pushed off center. The forward jewel for this shaft was damaged (oval recess) but not cracked. A drawing of this shaft and its jeweled bearings pointed out several areas of "possible interference" with the altimeter's accuracy as a result of these mismatches. Click HERE to see this.


The link pin of the same rocking shaft was incorrect. "Pin installed was a P/N 371-80 (should be 1357-37)." The correct link pin ends were flat, while the incorrect one was tapered on one end. The Kollsman Report stated: "The link from shaft A to the capsule is the unit which had the improper link pin in the spring clip on the capsule."


Any part that comes into contact with the altitude capsule itself is critical. The technician who assembled the altimeter had made too many mistakes in the same area, to have done so innocently.

The Kollsman report concluded: "Considerable reinspection of altimeters of same repair history is recommended to ensure that the altimeters in service are in accordance with the manufacturer's recommended standards regarding parts used, assembly techniques, and calibration/compensation." [Reuther, Victor The Brothers Reuther Houghton-Mifflin 1976; NYT 5.8.67, 5.11.1970; Kollsman and Barfield reports; NTSB records]


In April 1993, Victor Reuther received documentation of the preceding information. He stated: "I've had very strong suspicions from the day the accident occurred. I'm convinced there was tampering with the altimeter and, although the plane was on the ground for only a short time, it was time enough. The full story was not told. When I wrote my book I had not seen these files. I relied on the then-General Counsel of the United Automobile Workers, Steve Schlossberg, who I know from later experience was not too eager to make the investigation terribly thorough...He was more interested in passing the reigns of power to the new president, Leonard Woodcock, and getting the Reuther years behind him, so I felt he was too quick to accept the findings...he is now in Washington as the official representative of the ILO [international Labor Organization]..."


Schlossberg had made reference to a faulty altimeter in his report: "This possibility is discounted because there were two altimeters in this particular Lear Jet, but the instrumentation is still being checked." Schlossberg was sent a copy of this analysis and contacted. He stated that as he understood it, the cause of the crash was a faulty altimeter. He took the technicians' word there was no evidence of sabotage. Steve Schlossberg told this researcher: "It's not my field. The technical part of the report was like a foreign language to me. I was impressed with the honesty of the people who were doing this." He did not believe Walter Reuther's death was the result of a conspiracy, nor did he believe CIA had any motive to assassinate him. He elaborated: "Walter Reuther became a dove in the middle of the Hubert Humphrey - NIXON election. He was very much a hawk. A wonderful guy, but he was for the war. He was Johnson's biggest supporter. Walter finally opposed the war, but he never made it into a crusade. In the future he probably would have, he was a wonderful guy and it's too bad he didn't come around earlier. But when he did come around, it was great, and who knows what he would have developed into. Probably something wonderful."

HEMMING commented: "Sabotage of the altimeters would not do the job. Every instrument rated pilot sets the field elevation published on the front of the control tower when he takes off. You check if what the tower just gave you is correct. He'd know something was wrong. The fact it was a war surplus altimeter is strange. They don't put them in Lear Jets. Instrument Landing System, ILS, is a separate instrument you are viewing that had the cross-hairs. You're going up against an instrument pilot who's been through partial panel training, where you have a failure of half your critical instruments. You don't file with just one clue. There was also a radar altimeter."


NIXON called Walter Reuther's death "a deep loss." With Walter Reuther dead, AFL-CIO President George Meany's hawkish views on the Vietnam war went unopposed. Of the Vietnam war, Walter Reuther had stated: "It has divided this nation. It is wasting our resources that we need at home and it is tarnishing our moral credentials in the world." Victor Reuther: "My brother came out against it and that opposition persisted through the Johnson years. Vietnam soured the relationship between Johnson and my brother."

Victor Reuther now believes that sabotage was involved in his brother's death; however, he did not believe it was the CIA: "What I did not garner from the material you sent me was that it was the CIA...there are all kinds of wing groups, who could hire sophisticated people; there was a history of right-wing attacks on us." It was explained to Victor Reuther that an intelligence agency was often involved in sabotage of a sophisticated nature. Victor Reuther wondered if organized crime or the Communist Party was involved. It was pointed out to Victor Reuther that no mafia figures had offered valid information on the plane crash. Victor Reuther conceded that this was true. He added that he believed the altimeter had been tampered with during the earlier plane crash, and that the two accidents were related.

Edited by Steven Gaal
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  • 2 weeks later...

I found the actual NTSB crash report of the Ruether crash. The account posted above contains several distortions:

1) A brass screw was found loose in the instrument case. If the screw was loose, it would have left the high by 200-300 feet

The screw was in place up to the point the altimeter was disassembled, the suspected it might have been loosened by the fire, but a test was inconclusive:

Examination of the X-rays revealed that the locking screw was in place prior to disassembly. Considering that the screw may have loosened because of heat, a similar calibration arm mechanism was placed in an oven and heated for 2 hours at l,100 F. This screw was found were found on its threads. The hole from which it was removed displayed to be tight when examined. The test screw was removed and aluminum deposits torn and broken threads similar to those of the accident calibration arm.

http://libraryonline.erau.edu/online-full-text/ntsb/aircraft-accident-reports/AAR71-03.pdf pg. 9, PDF pg 11

…The FAA/NTSB found "no indication of sabotage." An examination of the reports by Barfield and Kollsman Instruments, on which the National Transportation Safety Board based their findings, told a different story.


The National Transportation Safety Board report stated that "while all systems were irreparably damaged [including the co-pilot's altimeter], information was nevertheless obtained from a few units. The captain's altimeter showed a reading of 1400 feet M.S.L. with an altimeter setting 29.75 inches..." This was similar to the altimeter reading uncovered after the crash of October 1964. The altimeter was sent to Barfield Instruments, and then to James W. Angus at Kollsman Instruments for examination. The Kollsman Instrument's report stated: "No identification was present to trace the specific instrument type and date of manufacture. The mechanism construction isolated the unit to one of three major types, each of which had numerous variations, none of which were TSO certified. All of these types were essentially military…

I found no trace of the supposed Kollsman or Barfield reports on the Net. Another webpage written by Webberman* has what purports to be links to images of the Kollsman Report but they are dead and there is no trace of them on the Internet Archive (as if they never existed). Text searches and my skim of the NTSB report turned up no hits for: ‘angus’, ‘barfield’, ‘military’ (‘armed’, ‘air force’), ‘trace’ or ‘tso’. The only report mentioned was the board’s own preliminary one of the crash. The only mention of Kollsman or any variation of the word manufacture was:

The altimeters were originally manufactured by Kollsman, and had been purchased by Lear Jet Industries. They were remanufactured by Instrument and Flight Research, Wichita, Kansas. The captain's altimeter had been in operation in the copilot’s instrument panel for 3,046.9 hours after remanufacture. It was then removed from the aircraft and overhauled by Coll-Aire, Inc., an FAA-approved repair station, and installed in the captain's panel of N434BJ. The reason for the overhaul was an "out of the accident, the altimeter had accumulated 485.4 hours since overhaul tolerance" condition which occurred September 28, 1969. At the time of the accident, the altimeter had accumulated 485.4 hours since overhaul.

Two other altimeters overhauled by Coll-Aire for Executive Jet, Inc., were sent to the Kollsman Instrument Company for examination. Some had never been on an aircraft since overhaul. These altimeters were found to be out of tolerances. Another overhauled altimeter was sent to the Aero-Sonic Company. It was found to be unrepairable.

[ibid pg 10, PDF pg 12]

* http://karws.gso.uri.edu/Marsh/Bay_of_Pigs/nodule23.htm

Odd that if the NTSB “based their findings” on “the reports by Barfield and Kollsman Instruments” that not only is there no independent confirmation of their existence but the safety board’s report made no mention of the them or the first company and the second was only mentioned in passing.

Worse Webberman omitted that his speculation that the altimeter was ‘untraceable’ and might have been switched when it was being refueled was directly contradicted by the NTSB report. Note that: i) it had been in the plane for AT LEAST 3 532.3 flight hours before the crash ii) was last reinstalled almost 500 flight hours before the crash and iii) its entire history from manufacture till crash seems to be known.

His failure to mention that there had been previous problems with the exact same altimeter and that there were problems with other altimeters ‘repaired’ by the same company were intolerable omissions by a dishonest crank with an agenda.

None this precludes the possibility that the plane might have be sabotaged, after all Ruether had a lot of powerful enemies but light is not going to be shown on the case by the likes of Weberman, he should stick to ruffling through people’s trash.

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