Disasters: Family Affair

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The passenger list of Sabena Airlines' 707 Jet Flight 548 for Brussels counted all the types that have become so familiar to airline attendants at New York's Idlewild International Airport. There was the young man bound for Warsaw to the bedside of his cancer-ridden mother, the teen-age wife of a Europe-based serviceman making her first flight, the pregnant young wife of another overseas G.I., the middle-aged priest going to Brussels for a reunion with his parents, the tourists brimming with language books and visions of Notre Dame and Rimini, the comfortably tired Brussels businessman.

But Flight 548 had something special that infected even the travel-weary and the blasé. Bubbly, chattery, their eyes dancing with excitement, came a swarm of 18 young members of the U.S. figure-skating team, headed with their coaches for the world championship competitions at Prague. Fresh-faced and eager, they were 'the cream of America's talented skating stars, experts in a sport that requires hard selfdiscipline, dedication and diligence. In the group were the brother-and-sister teams of Laurie and William Hickox and Ila and Ray Hadley, the married team of Patricia and Robert Dineen, and Coach Edward Scholdan and his son James. The most famous skaters among them were the three Owens of Winchester, Mass. Maribel Owen, 20, won the national senior pairs championship this year with Figure Skater Dudley Richards (he was there, too). Her sister Laurence (pronounced Lo-rahns), only 16, had won the North American championship for women at Philadelphia only two days earlier; her dazzling grace had made her one of the most bewitching youngsters who ever shaved ice on a rink, and she was a sure candidate for top honors in the 1964 Olympics. Their mother Maribel, 49, was one of the nation's top coaches and winner in her day of the U.S. figure-skating championship no fewer than nine times.

The priest, the businessman and the sorrowing son, the ebullient skaters, the pregnant wife and the eleven crew mem bers — all of them buckled in and soared hopefully into the Atlantic night.

Pointed Up. It was shortly before 10 o'clock next morning when the 707 neared Brussels. Something must have been wrong in the cockpit: for the last 20 minutes of flight, Pilot Louis Lambrechts did not contact Brussels Airport. He made a wheels-down approach, but went round again, possibly because a Caravelle jet was taking off. On his second turn, breasting the flat fields near by at 500 ft., he increased his speed, wrapped the giant 707 into an almost vertical bank. Brussels tower flashed the emergency signal, and fire trucks and ambulances began rolling down the landing strip.

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