N730JP 707-131F was owned by Jet Power, operated by RODEL Enterprises (Hector Rodriguez and Joe Coversano). I got a contract with LAB (Bolivia) to fly cargo flights Miami-SRZ Santa Cruz through a friend who was LAB manager and rep in Miami. I was already checked out on this 707 (right seat) so in addition to my commission I got to fly it to build time. One day we came from Borinquen Puerto Rico with a Circus onboard and the next day the airplane would fly to Houston and Santa Cruz. In the middle of the night I got sick and called capt. Baldwin that I was not feeling good enough to go on the next flight.
The plane left the next morning without me and within 24 hours crashed on take-off in Santa Cruz killing a bunch of people on the ground (mostly kids as it crashed on a school) It was the 13th largest accident in the world at the time-as far as ground victims were concerned. Hector suffered a nervous breakdown and disappeared while LAB asked me to take charge of the mess in behalf of RODEL, that included flying to Bolivia immediately, going down to Santa Cruz (and even identify the members of the crew), where people with shotguns were waiting to lynch me at the hotel.
As LAB disavows any relation to the airplane, "it was a Miami cargo airplane." Thus I became VP of RODEL, which then changed to Worldwide Air Leases and I became a partner with him (and did all the flying in marginal airplanes while he sat on the desk counting money)... A water wagon...short legs and a lot of smoke...another ground lover like the Convair 880.
In the News
PLANE CRASH - ploughs through crowded street - worst aviation disaster in Bolivia's history
Santa Cruz- Bolivia began three days of national mourning today for more than 100 of its people killed when a chartered United States cargo plane plowed through a street crowd and into a group of young soccer players at practice in this city.
The three American crew members of the Boeing 707 also were killed.
At least 100 Bolivians were taken to hospital, a government spokesman said, adding that some were hovering between life and death. He said at least half the victims were children.
A spokesman reported 84 bodies, including those of the Americans, had been identified.
Officials said it was the worst aviation disaster in Bolivia's history. President Hugo Banzer flew to Santa Cruz, 350 miles southeast of La Paz, ordered three days of national mourning and said he would lead the funeral procession Thursday morning.
The four-engine plane was owned by Jet Power Inc. of Miami and was being flown by another Miami firm, Rodel Enterprises, for the Bolivian firm Lloyd Aerero Boliviano. After delivering oil well machinery and other cargo from Houston, it took off empty Wednesday afternoon from the airport on the edge of the city. It faltered just after takeoff.
"People at the scene said they heard an explosion before it fell and saw fire in one of the motors on the left wing", a Bolivian air force officer told reporters.
The plane clipped the tops off several big trees, demolished a corner of the Julio Gutierrez primary school, mowed down a line of people on Avenida de Ejercito and crashed into a practice field outside the municipal soccer stadium where a number of people were watching two boys' teams scrimmaging.
The pupils at the school were home for lunch, but the caretaker, his wife and three children who were in the building were killed, an air force official said.
Another official said about 50 people were killed in the street, about 40 died at the soccer field and eight boys were suffocated in a locker room of the stadium by smoke from the burning plane.
Debris and bodies were strewn across the soccer field.
Jet Power Inc. said the three crew members were Captain Charles Baldwin; first officer Lee Marsh; and flight engineer Leslie Bennett. All were from the Miami area.
An air force officer said the planes's instruments indicated that one of the engines on the left wing failed. The black box flight recorder was recovered and given to investigators.
Billy Baldwin, son of Carman and Isabella Baldwin and grandson of Lewis Baldwin who operated a general store at Oakland fro more than fifty years. Bill was born July 1, 1915 at Oakland and received by Baptism into Oakland United Church September 27, 1915. During an eventful boyhood spiced with pranks and escapades Billy attended Oakland Public School and Scotland Continuation School.
He served with the R.C.A.F. and the R.A.F. over Europe in World War II. Transferring to the U.S. Army Air Corps, he had a further tour of operations over Germany and Italy, as well as in the Toyoko sector. After the war, he flew commercially in many parts of the U.S.A. and touched all continents except Australia during a career of thirty-five years in war, passenger, and cargo flying.
On August 11, 1950 Bill married to Dorothy Stickler at Enfield, Conn. Their son Stuart, and daughter Deborah, were born in New Jersey, spent part of their childhood in Texas, and then the family spent 15 years in Bierut, Lebanon, out of whicj Bill operated as a pilot with the Lebanese Airways. His most recent planes were the 707 jets. Their son, Stuart, and his wife Judy lived in Dubai on the Persian Gulf where Stuart works on offshore drilling. Deborah, receiving her secondary education in England, now studies at University of Miami, where Bill and Dorothy have lived since his "retirement" last April. Bill was serving as a Captain with L.A.B. Airlines with weekly 707 flights to South America.
N730JP history file: TWA N744TW 1959/1971 IAI N744TW 1971/1974 Phoenix Airways HB-IEG 1975 Jet Power N730JP 1975 Lsd. to ARCA Colombia HK-1773 1975 Lsd. to Trans Global N731JP 1975 Lsd. to Air India N731JP 1976 Rodel Aero N730JP Lsd. to Lanica N730JP 1976 Lsd. To Lloyd Aero Bolivia 1976. Photo: Werner Fishdick