Afterward, one passenger remembered seeing "the fence coming" and hearing someone yell: "We're going to crash." Within seconds, the National Airlines DC-4 was skidding along the sleet-coated runway of Philadelphia's International Airport. It ran off the runway, through a ditch. Its landing gear disintegrated, flames shot from a ruptured fuel tank.
Stewardess Mary Frances Housley threw open the door. Men & women rushed for it. One woman jumped with her coat on fire, tore it off and ran from the scene. Pretty, 24-year-old "Frankie" Housley stood by the door, coolly advising her passengers to "take your time." One panic-stricken woman crawled along the aisle away from the door and toward the nose of the plane. Another woman screamed: "Get my baby." Frankie could have jumped. Instead, she turned back into the flaming cabin.
When the wreckage had cooled, firemen climbed in to bring out seven bodiesfive women, two infants. One of the women was heroic Frankie Housley. She was found lying in the aisle with the body of four-month-old Brenda Joyce Smith in her arms.